Soft Skills Every Mobile Tester Should Have

The following is a guest post by Daniel Knott, Lead Software Test Engineer at XING’s mobile team and avid blogger (More about the author below)

Mobile technology has changed dramatically in the last decade. With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, mobile devices have faced a revolution. The devices are packed with powerful hardware and sensors, nobody could ever imagine to fit into these little devices.  

However, it’s not only the hardware that made the difference but also the software. Modern mobile operating systems like iOS and Android providing a rich set of features including smart assistants and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

cell phone evolutionLooking back the last decade especially mobile testers had to learn a lot about mobile technologies, from how to test in different environments, how to establish mobile test automation and how to handle device fragmentation. These are all technical skills a mobile tester or a software tester must have to succeed. But what’s with the soft skills of a mobile tester?

If you are following the testing industry and community, you know already THE most important skill every software tester must have. It’s communication. Software testers have to communicate in a precise and clear way that all the different stakeholders they are working with will understand possible problems or questions.

However, there are other important soft skills a mobile tester should have.

Soft Skills of a Mobile Tester

  1. Coaching

coachingAnother important soft skill is coaching. A mobile tester must be able to coach the whole team in terms of quality thinking. The testing part of a team should never be a one-person show.

One tester in a team, especially a mobile tester, can never test a mobile app on its own. The system, where the app under test is running, is complex and offers many potential pitfalls to cover. The app not only needs to be tested on a single device but on a wider range of different operating systems and devices, the keyword here is device fragmentation.

Therefore, a mobile tester should learn how to train and coach developers, agile coaches, designers, and product managers to support the testing activities in the team. Everyone in the team must have a quality mindset in order to think about a high-quality app from the beginning of the development cycle.

In most cases, the software tester has the knowledge about software quality and how to test and she or he should start with pair or mob test sessions to share the knowledge within the team.

  1. Tenaciousness

Reporting bugs or quality problems of a mobile app during the development phase can be exhausting and difficult. Depending on the severity of the bug, it’s likely that not every bug will be fixed before the app gets shipped to the customer.

However, in some cases, it’s very important that mobile testers are tenacious and have enough arguments to convince the developer or product manager that it’s important to fix the specific issue before going live. The keyword here is “Bug Advocacy”. The Association of Software Testing is providing a training on bug advocacy which is really important for every mobile tester to work through.

On the other hand, a mobile tester must be tenacious because it’s part of the job that the mobile app needs to be tested over and over again. Depending on the app, e.g. a gaming application test automation might not help to takeover repetitive tasks to give a mobile tester more time to focus on critical parts of an app.

  1. Creativity

creativityEspecially mobile testers must be creative during their daily work life. The huge amount of possible hardware and software combinations is impossible to cover. Depending on the use case of the app and the customers base, a mobile tester should start to create different kinds of scenarios before the implementation starts.

For example, the possible input gestures of a device. Is the app able to handle 5 fingers inputs? Or is the app able to handle fast movement while it’s being used? The creativity of a mobile tester can make the difference to provide the customers with a high-quality app.

There is More to Have

The three mentioned soft skills are by far the most important ones for mobile testers. However, there are more soft skills next to communication which are good to have or to practice to become better in them. There is:

  • Curiosity
  • Constant learning
  • Critical thinking
  • Asking questions
  • Ability to listen
  • Time management
  • Prioritization

How to Practice the Soft Skills

Knowing that there are important soft skills to have as a mobile tester is not enough. One needs to practice them, and a good starting point is always our team or product.

Write down the soft skills you think you have and practice them. If you want to learn new things, start reading books or blogs on the mentioned skills.

If you are not (yet) part of a software development team or you don’t want to test your soft skills with your colleagues, there are other ways to try.

There is weekend testing, where you can meet with other testers to improve your skills. Then there is the platform uTest where you can register as a crowd tester to test all kinds of products. Last but not least there are testing events, called testathon around the world, where you can group up with other testers to test a product.


About the Author

Daniel Knott


daniel knottDaniel is a mobile testing expert working as Lead Software Test Engineer at XING’s mobile team. He started his software testing career in 2003 as a trainee at IBM. After his time at IBM, Daniel studied computer science with a focus on software development and testing. Since 2009, Daniel has worked for companies such as Accenture, AOE and XING. He is experienced in several mobile test automation tools such as Robotium, Calabash for iOS/ Android, Espresso and Keep It Functional. With the help of this tools, he developed a fully automated testing environment for Android and iOS.

Daniel likes to share his knowledge and therefore he started to share his experience on his blog as well as in several testing magazines. Daniel is a well-known mobile expert, a speaker at various conferences in Europe and since 2014, he is the author of the book Hands-On Mobile App Testing.
Follow on Twitter: @dnlkntt

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