While many (within the testing fraternity & some outside it) know that testing is not a easy task, it is also a fact that the intricacies of it and more specifically the fact that
- testing is infinite
- (hence) bugs in a ‘tested’ application are as likely as bugs in your house after pest control
- thinking and creativity play a very important role
- testers are as important as any project members
is not well understood or appreciated by the influential powers-that-be who are responsible for application development & management. Again Quality today is not what it used to be maybe caused by complex technology at play, indifference (‘chalta hai’ attitude), business rush to implement yesterday, etc.
How many times has it happened in a testers life when he has been at the receiving end of something unpleasant & much more than his peers in development have had to face. The spoken word, actions and events cause unpleasantness and in its wake heartburn, frustration and demotivation. In extreme cases it has been known to provoke the disgruntled to even move away from the ‘hostile’ environment little aware that the environment and people could well replicate in other places albeit in different form and intensity.
While poor testing needs to be condemned and measures put in place for improvement straightaway, what happens at times is that problems in testing tend to be looked at in isolation rather than in toto and small problems tend to be magnified beyond proportion. What happens then is a vilification of the testers work who is not given the space or time to explain the gravity of the problem.
The barbs, retorts, bad press, insinuations, allegations of poor workmanship / quality against a testers work ranging from the subtle to the profane is what a tester has to many a times endure with a lump in the throat containing words full of blood.
How many times has it happened that the cause of a leaked defect / poor quality is always the tester and the finger wags in one direction only. On the flip side project success parties and award ceremonies are hogged by the developers with the tester clapping listlessly, his heart hammering with flashbacks in his mind about the information he dug hard and the bugs he reported after nightfall. How many times has a tester ruminated — “Is it worth it and didn’t I deserve more??”.
When elements go against the tester – What does the tester do? How does he protect himself? How does he motivate himself and carry on?
Some examples of the barbs that hurt and what a tester can do to rally himself.
“WHY WAS THAT BUG NOT FOUND? WHY DID IT LEAK?”
When an escalation about a escaped bug from a customer hits the inbox of a senior exec. the first reaction is always to call the tester who tested it and ‘overlooked’ the bug.
Whilst this comes by instinct & is understandable, what does the tester do? Well just like he painstakingly understood the application in all its ramification he would have to ask for time to understand the escaped bug just as well and ask himself whether he erred. After investigation if he finds he did, he has to admit it, store the learning and move on without drowning himself in despair. On the other hand, if he could not have caught the bug say due to the environment not available, change made without his knowledge he would just as with the former case, pass on that information to the senior exec. with the necessary critique.
“DEVELOPMENT IS THE MORE ARDUOUS TASK AND EASILY THE MORE CREATIVE”
Whilst development remains an act of creation and all that goes with it there is no doubt that testing requires:
- investigative skills to understand and explore the application many-a-times beyond the written / spoken word (implicit requirements/observations based on common-sense, logic, convenience).
- structured thinking/creativity to systematically probe and ask questions of the application by using the deployed code, data, environment and outside elements and combinations of it.
- maturity by being holistic and pragmatic when reporting bugs, issues, observations about the ‘correct’ state of the application.
- negotiation skills for understanding and setting expectations about time available to test
- quality of forthrightness – to say what is.
The above is a succinct barometer of a tester and he will know how to react and reason if he is skilled as such and acting accordingly.
“WHY IS TESTING TAKING SO LONG? WHY IS THE PRODUCTIVITY SO LOW?”
“WHY IS SO MUCH TIME NEEDED FOR TESTING? WHY CANNOT WE DO WITH LESS?”
With testing driven by many variables and there being no ‘right’ methodology to estimate time required for testing – the time available for testing will be just that – imperfect. Within this world of uncertainty the tester has to forever be aware of happenings around him (e.g. delayed development or incomplete release or tardy application behaviour), move with stealth and learn to adapt within changing situations at short notice, testing with alacrity to reveal the state of application to help information gathering and decision making. In desperate situations the success or lack of it will be dependent not on what testing cannot do but what they can (based on what they chose to test).
This is not a barb but it happens and a source of pain.
ON BEING DESERVING AND OVERLOOKED FOR ACCOLADES AND AWARDS.
What does the tester do? Here the responsibility vests with those managing the testers (test leads / test managers) to educate and apprise about testing (from testers mindset to test dashboards) supported by metrics that tell and conclude a story without any suspense. Via this practice of sustained reporting transparency to the men who matter, if successes are highlighted in green (along side ambers for ‘watch outs’ and reds for blips/failures) it may happen that the agony aunt visiting the testers on the award day would instead metamorphose into a gracious aunt with prizes in hand.
Despite the education and transparency, if accolades do not materilaise when it should, then what does the tester do? Well he should shrug, take a new lesson in self-motivation, bottle that hurt and uncork it when the next application becomes ready to test – only this time, he must think and test harder and make it count more than the previous one. Also he must use the hurt within to embolden further his passion for testing. It will only take him higher!!