Quality Assurance, that misunderstood and much-maligned function within the SDLC is indubitably an essential part of the development process, and given the recent trend towards automation I have put together this listicle, drawn from my recent experience working with QA’s, in an effort to aid you, the indispensable tester on your journey to QA greatness. So here are six things I have learnt in my work in the QA space that should help improve your Quality as a QA Tester and Assure that you will be great!
1. Strong communication skills
From what I have learnt, as a great QA you will be an excellent communicator and will take the time to describe bugs accurately, extensively and descriptively. When combined with an efficient defect raising system that emphasises the swift raising of issues, bugs will be better understood, addressed faster and therefore the project will reach completion sooner, benefitting the QA, the Development team and the entire company. The testers I have spoken to have praised working in close proximity to the Development team, as this facilitates efficient and comfortable communication, and will help develop a closer relationship with the Development team to foster the healthy conflict that will allow the faster clarification and swifter resolution of any issues.
Additionally, from my conversations with testers, a degree of confrontation skill also seems to be of some importance, the ability of the QA to be confident in raising issues, ensuring that any bugs are accurately described to the development team, and understood. In my opinion, a great QA must be confident and diplomatic enough to raise difficult or frustrating issues without alienating the development team, and be able to stand their ground regarding any contention over the validity of issues raised. From what I have learnt, it seems a great QA must tread the fine line between healthy conflict and potential hostility with the Development team.
As a QA, despite the seemingly repetitive nature of many of the tasks at hand, a mechanical mindset appears to be the antithesis of a great QA’s; Humanity delights in breaking the rules and it is the irrational nature of user behaviour that will identify bugs post-release. My conversations with QA’s responsible for manual testing have conveyed the impression that a great QA will exhibit this investigative attitude and click where they’re not supposed to, in efforts to deviate from a logical approach. Curiosity rather than frustration in the face of defects is what appears to help contribute to defining a great QA; it is the desire to learn why a defect has occurred and to source the root of the issue, that seems to elevate a QA Tester from good to great.
4. Technical Acumen
The technology market is ever-changing, so it would also appear wise to stay ahead of the curve in the testing world, I would suggest that as a great QA one should seek exposure to new technologies, and attempt to build as much experience as possible with them to secure positions using these new technologies or platforms. For example, gaining experience with automation or mobile testing prior to securing such a role illustrates both a willingness to learn and a proactive approach to tackling new technologies; this understanding will hopefully be noted, and help improve the value seen by potential clients or employers. Crowdsourcing sites are an ideal way to acquire such testing experience.
5. Business nous
From my experience, I have gained the impression that a great QA will be able to talk through both the companies, and individual projects they have worked on, with an understanding of how their actions helped the project reach its goals. This wider understanding of the business needs of the client will illustrate an understanding of why you were testing and what you were testing for, this understanding may be non-essential regarding the completion of your tasks, but comprehending the wider goals of the business will, with any luck, be recognised by any potential employers as making you a potential asset to their company.
Finally, while a good QA will be excellent at establishing what is wrong with the project they’re working on, and accurately delineating defects, in my opinion a great QA will understand what is right, and strive for a product that is as close to this ideal as possible. This understanding of the ideal will result in a proactive approach to testing the product, a wider view that will result in a QA Tester that understands and can help guide the team or company in the direction they should be moving in, to achieve the best product they can; This is, I think, a great QA.
In terms of the current trend towards automation, as well as being a topic too extensive to address here, and one of great value to companies seeking to streamline their QA process, this trend does not spell the end of the QA Tester. Automation tests can check that the product successful fulfils its function, and are faster and more consistent than manual testers, but fail to test the product beyond its function; it is the manual exploratory testing of an inquisitive QA that finds the bugs that would otherwise be unnoticed. Such tests also free the QA Tester from the responsibility of testing software for function and checking all the buttons on an application work; This allows the QA to focus on bugs that would otherwise go unnoticed, and on understanding what is right for the particular product you are testing, in other words, assuring its quality.
I hope my thoughts in this listicle can help propel you, the invaluable QA tester, on your journey to excellence, and I would love to hear your opinions, suggestions and insights regarding any other thoughts that can help the inestimable QA Tester achieve greatness!