Why do we Test?!

I was listening to a great podcast series by Jeffrey Kluger on the topic of Space called It’s Your Universe.

it's your universe- TIME

During the first episode of the series he explained that, even though the formal reasons why NASA invests billions of Dollars in space exploration is in order to advance humanity, the real reason is that the people at NASA explore Space is simply because it’s there.

As he said it:

The whole point of the Journey,
is the Journey!

As I heard him explain this logical but fascinating point I could not stop but think if there is a parallelism to our work, and to the reasons behind our testing…

Why do we Test?

I asked some people in Twitter and Facebook the other day and I got some answers worth mentioning.

For example, the people who test in order to ensure the product is released with good enough quality.  Or those who test to “to be part of making a better world, to help people” – this is a really good reason if you ask me!  And we can even go as far as mentioning those who test because no one else will do it, or at least no one else will do it right.

But I am interested here in the deeper question…

Do we test because of Quality, or is there a more primitive brain need (a limbic brain urge perhaps?) that drives us to test?

Just as Astronauts and Cosmonauts enroll into their “profession” because they have the bug of exploring “The Final Frontier”, maybe many testers find this type of satisfaction from discovering that “Extremely Hard to Find Bug” before the product is released to millions of users!?

OK, OK.proud to be a tester
No need to get agitated here!
I know I am comparing between people who fly on top of about 2,000 tons of fuel for a living, to guys like you and me that the biggest risks we take is whether to order the Hamburger or the Beef Burritos for lunch….  But you see where I am going here.

We are here for the Value, not for the Bugs, but…

I will be the first person to come forward and say that the job of the tester is not to find the bugs, but to provide stakeholders with visibility into the product to make their decisions…  yada yada yada! 😉

But as only another tester will understand, there is a mindgasm related to finding those bugs that you are sure no one else would find in a thousand years, and that by finding them you just saved your company thousands or even millions of Dollars!

We don’t do it because of the glory.  After all, what glory is there in finding the issues that should not have been there from the start.  We do it for the challenge!

Anyone who has ever completed a “very hard” personal challenge, such as to quitting smoking, graduating from College, losing 5 Kg, or finishing a 10K race will know.  There is a great level of personal satisfaction that comes from achieving a hard and demanding task that required the skills and perseverance that only you could provide.

This is the same feeling we testers get from discovering those important and hard-to-find bugs.

Next time someone asks, you do it because you like it!

The bottom line is that if you feel something like the way I described in these preceding lines, it means that you are into testing because you derive satisfaction from it.

There is no shame in accepting this!

And so, next time someone asks “Why are you a tester?” you can simply answer him or her that you do it because you like it, and you enjoy the challenges that testing provides you as part of your work!

Train testers to enjoy their achievements!

No less important is the need for us, experienced testers and test managers, to help junior and beginner testers to enjoy their achievements.

motivationJust like when you reinforce a kid by celebrating their first steps, or their good grades, or their sport accomplishments; in just this same way we need to celebrate the good bug findings of our testers in order to reinforce their feelings of achievement!

As trivial as this may sound to some of you, I have been in organizations where bugs were kept as quiet as possible so as not to hurt the feelings of the programmers.  And all this is good and fine, but WHAT ABOUT THE TESTERS?!?!

We need to look for a smart way of celebrating the great “saves” of our testers without vilifying the developers.

Think about this…

Why do YOU test?  

Do you have any story of a Fantastic Discovery or Great Achievement in testing that gave you great satisfaction?

I would like to ask you to share it, so that other testers (both beginners and experienced testers) can learn from it and get more motivation to exceed at their jobs!

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  • Cristian Pintilie

    I think it is a primitive need. If you didn’t have it, you couldn’t live in the present.
    It forces you to think through all of the areas that form the main concept to the smallest details.

  • Federico Toledo

    Great post Joel! I couldn’t agree more!
    I personally prefer automation and performance testing (however, I also like exploratory testing) and I believe in what you said, actually, when I teach software testing I usually say: if you think that testing is boring as they say, probably you have never tested yet, not appropriately. And if you think that testing has no technical challenges, that’s because you just follow test scripts, executing actions. If you try to use your mind to do efficient testing you will find a very challenging task, where you can use different tools to achieve what 100 hundred testers couldn’t achieve in one day. And there you have another mindgasm 🙂

  • Alex Langshall

    Testing is a blast. My “I’m a tester” moment was when I found a bug in a product that occurred when you imported at 3000×3000 pixel image. The developer said: “How do you have a 3000×3000 image… oh, right…”

  • joelmonte

    I really like this approach, I believe that testing tools is and specially tools that might not have been intended for testing in the first place but can be levered into testing provide great satisfaction (and a kind of MacGiverish feeling) that help us be more professionals and passionate on what we do.

    Cheers!

  • joelmonte

    I love those “Homer Simpson DOH” moments 🙂

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  • Nice post! It was worthwhile for me to read this article based on software quality testing services. But can you suggest me some articles based on mobile application testing, cloud testing? Like I found some blogs written by TCS or Astegic. Thanks!

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