Monday, 28 March 2011

The Principled Tester

What type of Tester are you?
Are you the ‘process driven’ tester? Are you the ‘checks pass so we are ok’ driven tester? Or are you the ‘fly by the seat of my pants, full on exploratory son of a gun’ tester?

All have their roles in the Test industry, there will always be companies who need each of the types (and more!) mentioned above.

The type of Tester you are really comes from within. It depends on a number of things; such as attitude, intelligence and experience. Overall though, every Tester worth their salt will have their principles. That is to say, they hold dear various things that are important to them when it comes to Testing. Some don’t, some are very much 9-5 type Testers with no real genuine interest or passion in what they do or the consequences of their actions. In my eyes, those people shouldn’t even be classified as Testers, they are hired hands doing (more than likely) a below average job. Eventually those people are, or will be, weeded out.

But back to the true Testers, yes, they have principles. I would hazard to guess if we pulled into a room, some of the world’s best Testers, their principles would differ…but probably only by a hairs breadth!
Their language explaining it may vary, their rating of their principles may differ, and some may even see them as not being principles but just part of their make-up. However, hair splitting aside, they will be similar. Core principles are common among good Testers.

Now, whilst I wouldn’t attempt to place myself in such exulted company as among the best Testers in the world (whomever they may be), I believe I have ‘some game’ and see myself very much so, as a Principled Tester.

I place my Testing principles at the very forefront of what I do for a living and indeed, influence me in my job every day. I wish not to impose these on anyone, but for the record they are below. I call it my T.E.S.T.S. approach.

Test the right things
Knowledge of AUT with a Test Journey in Mind

End the day never satisfied
Must do better mantra
How can I improve that?

Strength of Purpose
Willing to admit you may be wrong – Humility
Stand by your theories and thoughts – don’t be swayed because others have
Stay true to your testing compass
Take ownership for testing the product/application

Methodical mindset
Attention to detail
Going the extra mile, run the extra Test, answer the nagging ‘what if’

Speak the truth to power
Your job is to provide information not ‘the sugar coat message’
No Testing is better than poor Testing
Keep others honest

They are in no particular order, but to get the T.E.S.T.S. handle in there, I had to play with the order ever so slightly

Whether we like it or not, Testing is a results driven business. We have project delivery time constraints and managerial pressure and expectation for the right message.
One would think this type of environment wouldn’t lend itself to allowing for principles? It can!

You can still deliver on time, give the right message and be principled.
Project delivery on time can be achieved as long as you provide the evidence which details what you have found as a result of your Testing, on time. Testers are not in the project delivery business, that is not their job. If someone else wants to deliver based on your evidence, with or without your recommendation, that decision is theirs.

Managerial pressure for the right message will always be there, but if the message you provide is that you have found issues/defects that are detrimental to what the project states it should do, then you have delivered the right message because it has provided information related to the health of the project.

Again, what Managers do with that message is not the Testers job.
So you have delivered on time, gave the right message AND stuck to your principles.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely put.

    What I see here is a set of principles that suggest that you have invented testing for yourself, as James Bach often puts it. So that's another principle that I think is worthy: a principled tester takes ownership of their relationship to the craft.

    To me, the "on time" part doesn't mean providing all the information that's possible to provide by a given date. Instead, reporting "on time" means being able to provide, articulately and cogently, the most important, relevant information of which you're aware, at any moment the client requests it—and seeking to discover that information constantly.

    ---Michael B.