Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Variety is the spice of Test

One of the reasons I decided to get into software testing was the appeal it had as a job which would keep me interested and not become repetitive and boring, as so many jobs can be.  I think software testing can be as interesting as you want to make it, within reason.  My main caveat would be that you have a much better chance of achieving job satisfaction if the company you work for has the right attributes of a forward thinking company, such as one which adheres to as many of 'Deming's 14 Points' as possible; which can be seen at the following web page (

One of the main factors I've found in maintaining interest in is continual reading around the subject of software testing, including not only books specifically about testing, but also books covering wider subjects such as the industry you're in or books about how our minds work.  Although not directly related to testing, the knowledge gained from many other areas can be useful to have in the back of your mind when testing.  One example is Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, which is a book about how we appear to have two distinct ways of thinking about things, the instinctive gut reaction (thinking fast) and then secondly the more conscious considered approach (thinking slow).  I intend to write about my thoughts on this book in a future blog.

I started using Twitter about 6 months ago and have found it a great way to access lots of current thoughts, trends and blogs from people who have vast experience of software testing.  There is no shortage of views and ideas and twitter has become part of my daily routine.

Although testing our product is classed as my main role, there are lots of interactions with other areas of the company necessary to fulfil my role as a tester.  As we're all based in the same building those interactions are usually immediate and face to face so feedback loops are short and progress is made quickly.  We also release new kits on a regular basis and constantly add new, and improve existing features.  So although we have a stable product, we as individuals and as a company are in a constant state of progression in terms of continually improving and polishing our skills and our service.  This goes not only for myself and the test team but everyone in the company; we are all pulling in the same direction.

So my job not only involves testing, it also involves meetings with the product owners to discuss upcoming product enhancements and planning how best to test them.  It also involves working closely with developers to get visibility of the features as they are created first hand and as early as possible.   That way I can find out how they intend to code the requirements, with an eye on testability and automation of tests where possible.  The more of the predictable, repetitive tests that can be automated the better as that leaves the more unusual scenarios, which only a human tester can carry out and/or interpret.  That is the sort of testing I want to be doing as it engages my mind and allows me to be creative.

It's this variety which keeps my job interesting and I hope any non testers who read this can take it from me that getting into software testing is well worth the effort.

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