Monday, 25 October 2010

I’m a tester, I can’t waste time doing testing activities?

I was involved in a discussion one day about the regression testing activities and more implicitly, the post execution activities. Someone was making a point that validating the results and outcomes of the Tests was ‘taking too much my time’.
This point intrigued me and my initial thoughts were ‘ok, so what did these validations prevent you from doing that was more important, than a key aspect of your actual job?’ I simply don’t get this.
As a tester, you have many aspects to your job but the general thesis is this, you create and execute Test Cases (be it exploratory or scripted checks) with the intention of finding out information to provide feedback on the health of a project. As part of this execution, there is an inevitable ‘wash up’ activity that involves verifying the results. That is, to say, did the outcomes match what was expected or is there a potential issue? There is no way around this, the results need to be verified (do you ever hear TV talent shows say before a result is announced, ‘the results have been counted but we don’t need to VERIFY them’ – NO).
If you don’t verify the results, how can you:-

• Provide meaningful information?
• Find out if there is a problem?
• Carry out further testing?
• Improve your testing?

How you do this verification is a different discussion. If it is manual, it will take longer than if you have automation that can spit out results and potentially examine them as well.
It is my belief that automation has been the best and the worst thing that has happened to testing in the past number of years. It has helped improve monotonous checking, increase the speed of provision of information through quicker execution and when used properly, extremely powerful to various areas of testing such as reporting and data entry. However, I believe automation has made testers and testing LAZY. Some Testers (as well as Managers) now see automation = testing and anything that cannot be automated is not worth testing. Further to that, some testers are seeing executing automated Tests as their entire testing activities…period. In other words, the automation runs when it is finished, I am done and nothing else is required. This is equivalent to saying it NEEDS to provide Passes and the Green bar so as to not mean I spend time verifying the results.
This mindset is damaging to the core aspects of testing and actually quite insulting to the good intentions of the keepers of the testing industry.
All Testers want to be providing value, being involved in the creation of the next big Testing thing, creating solutions. However, all Testers need to be true to the core aspects of their job; the creation of Test Cases, Test Case execution and Test Case execution FOLLOW UP.
There are no workarounds here, no quick fixes, its simply part of ‘doing your job’. If you are a tester who doesn’t believe in these facets of your job, my advice is quite simple ‘Testing is a waste of your time, time for a career move’.