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3 Steps to Survive and Thrive as a Software Tester
“Everyone’s a tester.”
If you’re a software tester, you’ve likely heard those words many times, especially if your company is making the move toward agile software development . Many agile run teams have the view that testing becomes the responsibility of the team at large, rather than any individual member, and so what place does a software tester have?
That may be an appealing notion to some business leaders, but it’s not so attractive if you’re a software tester. Here’s the good news, though: It’s not true. Dedicated software testers are still essential, even in the context of agile testing.
But they do need to adapt. Here’s how:
1. Know your domain – and not just testing
How do software testers fully justify their value as companies shift from waterfall to agile?
By becoming, and remaining, experts in their domains. Testers need to know their systems better than the product owners.
Typically, the product owner is going to act as the main intermediary between the stakeholders and the dev team. In many, perhaps even most, cases the product owner isn’t going to have the time to dig deep into any particular application – they’d have to oversee too many apps for that to be feasible.
This is especially true for large enterprises that are making large but gradual shifts to agile testing. ( Side Note: I experienced this first hand at a large enterprise company making the shift from Waterfall to Lean and Agile initiatives) As these companies transition to smaller teams, software testing environments are likely to be very flexible, and the product owners will have massive portfolios of applications.
“Software testers provide hands-on knowledge of the application that compliments the product owner.”
Software testers that want to survive and thrive need to make sure they possess the hands-on knowledge and expertise that compliments the product owner. That means understanding how the business processes work with system applications and, just as importantly, what ways does the current system hinder the objectives of the business.
Going through the testing motions in a vacuum was never best practice for software testers. Today, it’s not nearly enough.
2. Speak up
Going along with that last point: Software testers need to be not just able, but also willing to speak up and contribute to the software development team beyond what was expected in the past.
In this blog post I emphasized the idea that testers in scrum environments need to become advocates for the end user. That requires more than simply running through a test and reporting on whether it succeeded or failed – it means you need to think about whether the requirements themselves. After all, if your testing meaningless or misguided requirements, the results don’t really matter. The best, most valuable testers will speak up when this is the case.
Of course, it’s not always easy to have your voice heard, as Software Testing Help explained. That’s why you need to combine a willingness to speak up with excellent communication skills.
You need to be willing to speak up.
3. Embrace new software testing tools and strategies
A big part of the value that dedicated testers can deliver is a unique set of tools and capabilities. As Kevin Dunne points out in this blog, testers and developers have varying skills and approach problems differently. Agile software teams need both perspectives and human resources to deliver the best products as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Software testers can further prove their value by embracing new tools and testing techniques as they evolve. For example, most testers have done manual or functional automated testing, but now they need to experiment with BDD testing, test-driven testing, session-based testing and so on to make sure they are not sticking with their same old habits. As new technologies roll out to your business, maybe it’s time to role in new ways of testing.
By making a point of remaining forward-thinking and on the cutting-edge of what’s possible for agile testing, you’ll be able to survive and thrive not only as companies make the transition to agile, but also once the agile transformation is complete.
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