There is always the big question of where should you as a tester (or your team as the testing team) be investing your time.
– Should you be running as many tests as possible?
– What about automating test cases? To make sure you can run these tests faster and re-use them all the time.
– There is obviously a case for taking time aside to research new technologies, testing tools and methodologies?
– And what about coaching and training others in your organization (e.g. Developers, Business Analysts, etc)? This way they will run tests together with you, to share on the burden of testing when needed?
All these are true. These are important tasks that are needed if you want to succeed in testing.
More importantly, this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the large number of things you should be doing (as a tester!) to provide more value to your organization.
Thank God we have managers to decide for us, right?
OK, so there are a number of things you should be doing. Many of these things are really important.
But the problem is that since all of these things take time, it means that they are competing for the same resources and they need to be prioritized somehow or by someone.
Who can do this? Who has the visibility, authority and understanding?
Many times this will be the responsibility of a QA or Test Manager.
But lately we see more and more testers working on very small teams, or even working as a single tester within a larger Agile team, and if this is the case then who can make this call?
The answer is trivial:
It’s time to become a Broken Comb
I don’t quite remember on what conference I heard this concept, but it is still a good one. We need to behave as a Broken Comb Type of Tester.
A tester who “is” a broken comb has a wide basic knowledge in testing, enough to do a decent job in most of the basic testing tasks. And then there areas in which s/he has deeper knowledge and can do an even more expert job.
It is called a “broken” comb because the model expects the person to have different levels of knowledge in different areas and so the diagrammatic explanation looks like a broken comb (see below).
The reason it is important to become a broken comb is simple, you want to be versatile enough to handle a wide variety of tasks, depending on the needs of your team and organization.
And it is also time to learn to think by yourself
But being versatile is not good in itself, you still need to know when to apply each of these areas of knowledge.
Or in layman terms, you need to decide what is important at what time!
The only way to know what to do is by understanding your project good enough to know what is needed now and what will be needed in the coming days/weeks.
Once you know that, you need to think where you will be more valuable and this will tell you where to invest your time.
The really hard part about knowing where to invest your time is that your priorities will change constantly. This is the nature of our current state of development, and so this is not a one-time process.
You need to make it part of your routine to sit down, look at the current project, and then analyse where is your time needed. After you know this, you will need to decide what things you will ask someone else to do, and what things you will not do as they are less important to the success of the project.
Learning to say NO, and learning to get up after you fell down
Obviously, telling NO to people will automatically turn you into a bad person, some of them will think less (or even horrible things) about you, and it will be a hard part of your job. But looking at it coldly, it is the only way to do it.
So, be strong, and as long as you are confident in your decisions make sure to carry on forward.
Rest assure :-), you will surely make mistakes! But just like any other leader in history, your success depends as much on your victories, as on how you reacted when you made mistakes along the way.
If your organization does not tolerate mistakes made in good faith and as part of a learning process, go ahead and look for another organizations that does.
Focus on value and let your team tell you how you are doing
Let’s finish up from where we started, to understand why we are doing all these things.
We are trying to understand where is our work more valuable to the organization. We also understand that we have less resources and time than what we need to do everything we would wish to do.
Based on these 2 points you will need to understand where to focus in order to generate the higher value. It is as simple as that!
The thing that may make this easier and less painful is to enroll your team on this process together with you. Make them part of the inputs, and share with them your outputs. Be open to new ideas and to criticism. But also learn how to stand your ground when needed.
With time you will reach a place, a process, and a position where you can spend less energies convincing your team that you are doing the right thing, and spend more energies on doing this thing you think is right.
And let me know how it is going in the comments.
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