Sunday, May 2, 2021

A growing problem to be solved soon

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Somehow the current batch of testers are more inclined towards Automation, call themselves SDET / Automation engineers and look down on the role of functional tester. I am not here to stir up another debate of which term is the right term to use. My concern is somewhere else - The understanding of "testing" as a craft and focus on the "testing skills". 

 Some of the questions have no answers with this batch of testers: 
  • Why do we test? (We test to automate - Yes, I was shocked on listening to this answer) 

  • How do you test this product? (I will automate using - Automation is one of the activities based on the context. Don't approach testing with tools. Use tools if they help you in testing) 

  • What kind of bugs have you found? (UI, Usability..) 

  • When was the last time you designed your tests? (Oh, we received them from the manual or functional team and we went ahead and automated them) 

Garbage In - Garbage Out

All I can say is: Garbage in - Garbage out! I am not against automation. Automation is very useful. It helps you achieve the things that you might not be able to do without the tools. 

Without having the right test ideas, what are you going to automate? 
Won't they be incorrect or way too shallow? Think about it. 
Are the checks even valuable? Are they going to answer the questions that matter? 

So, now without your test ideas being strong, I don't understand how you can add value as a tester!

Systematic Product Modelling 
Have you seen the testers who say that they have not tested the feature and hence have no idea about the feature even though it is part of the same product they are testing? On top of it, the two features would even be interacting with each other. Why would one not want to learn about the whole product? 

  • Do we even spend enough time and the right techniques to model the whole application? 

  • Do we think across layers - UI, API, DB?

  • Do we think about the different users - the first-timer, the legacy, just started, the one who has not updated?

  • Do we understand how the data flows across features and how it gets transformed?

  • Do we know the defaults?

  • Do we know how the product is marketed?

  • Do we know the complaints the users raise to our customer support teams?

  • Without modeling the overall application, I wonder what use is the automation skill?

  • Isn't it a very narrow-minded approach?

  • Won't the power of automation be well used if you exactly know where to use it rather than using it at every opportunity? 

Who /also/ encourages them?
Think of all the questions that are asked in the interview. 
  • How much do we focus on the fundamentals? 

  • Do we jump straight to the tools?

  • Do we fill up the positions even if we know that this tester is not a well-rounded tester?

  • Do we give higher emphasis to automation skills?
Check out the job descriptions that are posted as well. No mention of the core skills. The tools form the majority of the JD. We can't blame the testers with such JDs.

Soon, we will get to a state where testers have no idea what testing is, the bigger picture, the multi-dimensional aspect of quality, and how one can add value. We should get away from the zone of robots with tools ready to automate anything and everything without understanding testing.

The next time you have a chance to influence any of the above three factors - "Decide what to automate", "Knowledge of the product", "Interview the testers", dive in and help the industry move ahead!

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Sunday, January 3, 2021

A-Z of Testing Tips: A for Awareness

Wish you all a very happy new year 2021.
Let us use the experience gained in 2020 to make the best use of 2021.

Based on the talk given at #TestFlix -, I want to expand my eight minutes talk into a series of blog posts. 

Here is the first of such posts where I will talk about A - Awareness


Awareness Stage

  • The four stages of awareness and knowledge
    Know that you know
    Know that you don't know
    Don't know that you know
    Don't know that you don't know

    Where are you in these four stages w.r.t testing?

  • Awareness of your time
    Many testers when test, are not even aware of what they are upto.
    Do you know how much of your time is spent on which activity in testing?

  • How do you test?
    Is there a structure of how you test and most of your actions are consciously thought of?
    Do you just follow someone's instructions without even understanding the why behind the how?

  • Industry trends
    Are you so behind the trends that someone who interacts with you feels that you are ages behind, especially if you are supposed to be the expert at that task?
Be super-aware of what's happening both in the industry and also when you test, work with your team members. I have seen many testers perform actions and chit chat or play games that they have absolutely zero idea of what's happening on the system. They are not testing. They are going through the motions, as they say. Don't be one of them.

If you are not aware, how will you improve?
If you don't improve, be ready to be replaced by someone who is less expensive than you :)

Application Stage:
  • What's your next step?
    Once you know that you have to be aware, what will you do now?
    Do you know in which situations you need to improve? Based on that you can now focus on improving.

    For example, if you feel that you make a lot of mistakes in understanding the requirements, pay attention to what you do when they are being discussed. Are you really listening or waiting for your chance to speak? I know that it is not as easy as I have written in the sentence above. And that is where the practice - conscious practice - comes into the picture.

    Remember that if you know and you don't apply in situations which demand application, it is as good as not knowing. 

  • Being more self-aware
    It comes down to habits, retrospections and the cost of mistakes. Being aware 100% of the times in 100% of the activities might be taxing. Instead pick certain high value/cost activities and practice being aware. Slowly, you might observe that you are getting better at self-awareness, till it becomes part of your muscle memory.
Growth Stage
  • Did you follow-up?
    Many, almost everyone wants to improve. The first stage is to be aware that one needs to improve. The second is to take actions. The third (growth stage) is to evaluate the actions taken and the results and course correction (if needed). 

    I have seen many take the first two steps and then lose track because they are not tracking it. If you don't track, unless you have mastered it and made a habit part of your muscle memory, the chances are high that you might get back to old habits.

    Let me give one classic example here:
    When the appraisals happen, the majority promise that they will act on the feedback. The first few weeks after the appraisals, you see the changes. Then the changes disappear. To grow, one needs to be aware of the key items all the time and not just temporarily. 

  • Any changes required?
    You tried few changes, you now see the results. What do you do now? Are the actions yielding the right results or do you need to do any more changes? Close the loop.
To summarise:
  • Be aware of what you do
  • Be aware of what's expected of you
  • Do the necessary changes
  • Review after performing the changes

The full talk is available here: A-Z of Testing Tips 

My other videos: YouTube Channel

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