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Saturday, December 28, 2019

New Year's Resolutions for Software Testers

I love New Year's Day!  There's something exciting about getting a fresh start and imagining all that can be accomplished in the coming year.  The new year is an opportunity to think about how we can be better testers, how we can share our knowledge with others, and how we can continue to improve the public perception of the craft of software testing.

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Here are some suggestions for resolutions you could make to improve your testing and the testing skills of those around you:

Speak Up
Because testers are sometimes made to feel like second-class citizens compared to software developers, they might feel timid about voicing their opinions.  But testers often know more about the product they test than the developers, who are usually working in one small area of the application.  This year, resolve to speak up if you see an issue with the product that you think would negatively impact the end user, even if it isn't a "bug".  Similarly, speak up if you find a bug that the team has dismissed as unimportant, and state why you think it should be fixed.  Advocate for your user!  Make sure that the product your customers are getting makes sense and is easy to use.

Pay Attention in Product Meetings
I'm sure my Product Owner would be sad to read this (sorry, Brian!) but I find product meetings boring.  I know that the small details of the user's experience are important, and I'm so glad that there are people who care about where a notification badge is displayed.  But listening to the discussion where that decision is being made is not very exciting to me.  However, I am so glad that I am included in these meetings, and every year I resolve to pay more attention to product decision-making than I did the year before, and to contribute when I have information that I think will be helpful.  Attending product meetings allows me to hear why certain choices are made, and also helps me think about what I need to test when a new feature comes available.

Do Some Exploratory Testing
I suspect that most of us have some area of the application we test where we have a sneaking suspicion that things aren't working quite right.  Or there's a really old area of the application that no one knows how to use, because the people who initially built and tested it have since left the company.  But we are often too busy testing new features and writing test automation to take the time to really get to know the old and confusing areas of an application.  This year, resolve to set aside a few hours to do exploratory testing in those areas and share your findings with the team.  You may find some long-buried bugs or features that no one knows about!

Streamline Your Operation
Are there things your team does that could be done more efficiently?  Perhaps you have test automation that uses three different standards to name variables, making the variable names difficult to remember.  Perhaps your methods of processing work items isn't clear, so some team members are assigning testing tickets while others are leaving them for testers to pick up.  Even if it seems like a small problem, these types of inefficiencies can keep a team from moving as quickly as it could.  Resolve to notice these issues and make suggestions for how they can be improved.

Learn Something New
This year, learn a new tool or a new language.  You don't have to become a master user; just learn enough to be able to say why you are using your current language or tool over the new one you've learned.  Or you could discover that the new language or tool suits your needs better, in which case you can improve your test automation.  Either way, learning something new makes you more employable the next time you are looking for a new position.

Share Your Knowledge With Your Team
Don't be a knowledge hoarder!  Your company and your software will be better when you share your knowledge about the product you are testing and the tools you are using to test it.  Sometimes misguided people hold on to knowledge thinking it will make them indispensable.  This will not serve to keep you employed.  In today's world, sharing information so that the whole team can be successful is the best way to be noticed and appreciated.  Resolve to hold a workshop for the other testers on your team about the test automation you are writing, or create documentation that shows everyone how to set up a tricky test configuration.  Your teammates will thank you!

Share Your Knowledge With the Wider World
If I had one wish for software testers for the year 2020, it would be that we would be seen by the wider tech community as the valuable craftspeople we are.  If you are an awesome software tester- and I'm guessing you are because you are taking the time to read a blog about testing- share your skills with the world!  Write a blog post, help someone on Stack Overflow, or present at a local testing meetup.  You don't have to be the World's Most Authoritative Expert on whatever it is you are talking about, nor do you have to be the Best Speaker in the World.  Just share the information you have freely!  We will all benefit from your experience.

What New Year's resolutions do you have for your software testing?  Please share in the comments below!




13 comments:

  1. Hi Kristin,

    Nice blogpost. I would like to learn test automation and coding. So going to code like a developer and test like a tester.

    Thanks,
    Bharath

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    Replies
    1. That sounds like a great plan for 2020, Bharath! :-)

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  2. Thanks for another timely blog. Even I have similar thoughts in my mind :).I saw some blogs with hi-fi content which may not be adoptable quickly, but your blogs contain details that can be useful for any tester in their day to day work.
    I'll definitely start writing a blog in 2020.

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  3. Great content! Thank you and Happy New Year!!

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  4. I will definitely try to implement you suggestion within self and my team.

    Thanks a lot... :)

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  5. Excellent post, Kristin. I admire how you come up with great content so consistently. I'm going to write these on a card and stick it up at my desk.

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  6. Happy New Year!

    As always, very nice post!

    My resolution for this year is to create a testing team in my company.

    Since testers became agile and were moved from a testing team to the dev teams, they have lost the team spirit among them. I feel this has created a big gap on the product level; each tester cares only about their team's user stories and efforts but not about the final product. This has also reduced dramatically the experiences, skills and ideas we share.

    I have realized this issue for two years now, but always waited for someone else to take a step. This year I decided to go out of my comfort zone and try to bridge this gap.

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    Replies
    1. This sounds great, Despina! At my company the testers are dispersed to the development teams as well. We testers keep in touch by having a Slack channel and by having monthly meetings and workshops where we discuss issues and teach skills that are important to us. Good for you for taking the initiative at your company! :-)

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