In any profession or field, there is a difference between being a good professional and being an exceptional professional. On the same lines, anyone can be a good testing professional; however, it takes some unique skill set to be an exceptional tester. No application is ever bug free, and the success lies in nailing the most crucial bugs by being devious and curious.
Testing is not just a job; it’s also about imagination, and critical thinking. It is about not accepting anything at face value, and maintaining a questioning mindset for the product. If you wish to be exceptional, you always expand your knowledge and hone your testing strategies for improvement. So, as a tester, what mindset and skill dimensions that you should invest in, what areas to be avoided, how to make best use of available resources? Here are few tips that can help you gain that competitive edge:
1. Gain Perspective– As a tester, there are many different aspects to be considered in addition to comparing specifications with the implementation. These include consistency with the comparable products, user expectations, history of the product and so on. Your judgement will be better if you know what is important for your business. To gain perspective, talk to the customers, interact with customer supports, and have a day out with the marketing team.
2. Aim for Quality– Never shoot for quantity, as identifying few important glitches and bugs is going to be much more valuable than testing volumes.
3. Prioritize– Prioritizing is important. Rather than focusing on the minute details of the application, pay attention to the mission critical parts and identify the most valuable bugs first. This helps the development team to address critical issues as quickly as possible.
4. Improve Verbal and Written Skills– Conveying information is almost as important as finding an important piece of information. As an excellent tester, you need to have excellent written communication skills to write test cases, bug reports etc. which are important part of QA. These artefacts should be detailed, and easy to understand. Sometimes you will be in a situation where you will have to defend your findings, and explain why they are relevant. Describe your findings and be alert to the new information that comes up in the communication.
5. Learn from Mistakes– And not only yours. We all make mistakes, however, these mistakes must help you learn, understand and not repeat them. Prioritize better, communicate better, plan better. Constantly ask questions, and incorporate your knowledge to bring positive changes in your work and approach. It might be a good idea to keep a track of your past bug reports and understand which ones created confusion, and how could you have written them differently for better understanding.
6. Eye to the Details– Observation is the ability to notice significant and important details. As a tester, you need to observe the situations that are unusual. Slow down and observe by looking closer and keep your channels wide open. Go beyond the checklists.
7. Think like the User– Keep in mind that you need to find each and every possible bug before the software is deployed and used by the end customers. Don’t be humble, question everything, and do not take anything for granted. If you don’t understand something, chances are, neither would the end user. At the same time, maintain a healthy scepticism about the capabilities of the product while exploring its limitations and capabilities. It is important to maintain a balance between curiosity and questioning every decision made. Testing needs objectivity and fresh perspective. Keep an open mind and keep the end users’ perspective in mind.
8. Efficient Reporting– Make your bug report informative by adding screen shots and sufficient details. This will help developer understand the bug clearly and fix it. Give information such as when, how, where, under what OS, on which devices and so on. Free your report from irrelevant information so that it can influence right people to act.
9. Have Passion– Being passionate about what you do is the key to excellence. Stay informed about your field, attend trainings, do courses and certifications, do whatever you can to immerse yourself in QA. Keep in mind that knowledge is not static, especially in the technical domain. Improve your technical education, as well as understand how the machines work. BBST (Black Box Software Testing) and RST (Rapid Software Testing) are the two basic courses that are recommended for every tester as they give extensive hand-on experience to different test scenarios. Continual learning is the most important personal value. Invest in yourself.
In addition to these, it is equally important to have social skills to have collaboration, humour to sustain your sanity and staying focused, and practicing your skills to reach higher level of proficiency. Find the areas for improvement and make your actions self-reflective. Seek help when required.
Becoming an exceptional tester is a constant journey. Keep in mind: Testing is all about information discovery and information delivery. Test On.