Thursday, April 29, 2021

I don't trust your testing and how to change that

Over the years, I have been senior to a lot of testers. I've been in the position to refuse to give them work. I have been in the position to select what their primary focus in teams becomes. I've been in position to influence the fact they no longer work with the same thing. 

Being in position of this kind of influence does not mean you have to be their manager. It means you need to have the ear of the managers. So from that position, inspired by the conversations we had with Exploratory Testing Academy Ask Anyone Anything session, I am going to give you advice on how to work to be appreciated by someone like me. (note: it means NOTHING really, but a thought exercise)

Let's face it: not all testers are that great. We all like to think we are, yet we don't spend enough time in thinking about what makes us great. 

So lets assume I don't trust your testing and you want to change that - a tongue-in-cheek guide to how-to. 

1. Talk about your results

I know I can search your bugs in Jira and no matter how much folks like me explain that not everything is there, in reality a lot of it is there in organizations that believe that work does not exist without a card in jira. Don't make me go and search. 

Talk about your results:

  • the information you have found and shared with the developers ("bugs")
  • the information you have found and could teach others ("lesson learned", "problems solved")
  • the changes in others you see your questions are creating
  • the automation you wrote to test, the automation  you rewrote to test, the automation you left behind for regression purposes
  • the coverage you created without finding problems
Small streams, continuously, consistently. 

2. Create documentation in a light-weight manner

You can lose my trust with both too much and too little. Create enough, and especially, create the right kind. Some of it is for you, some of it is for your team. 

If you like tracking your work with detailed test cases, I don't mind. But if creating test cases does not intertwine with testing, and if it keeps your hands off the application more than hands on it, I will grow suspicious. Results matter - make your results tell the story of what you create for you makes sense for you. 

If others like using your detailed test cases, I will also make you responsible for their results. I have watched good testers go bad with other people's test cases. So if you need detail and make detail available for others, I expect you to care that their results don't suffer. Most likely I'd be looking out for how you promote your documentation for others and be inclined towards suspicion. 

If you don't create documentation, it is just as bad. The scout rule says you need to leave things easier for those who come after you and I expect you to provide enough for that. 

3. Don't get caught being forgetful

A good tester needs to track a lot of different levels information and tasks. If you keep forgetting things, but you don't have your own system of recalling them, this raises a concern. 

I don't want to be the one who reminds you on you doing your work. Once is fine, repeatedly reminding and you should recognize you have something to work on. Like prioritizing your work to manageable amounts. Or offloading things into notes that help *you*. You are responsible for your system, and if you are not, trust will soon fade away. 

If you create a list of things to test, test them. If you don't test them, tell about it. And never ever tell me that you did not know how to, did not ask for help and let bugs slip just because you didn't work your way through a rough patch. 

4. Do your own QA of testing

After you tested, follow through what others find. Don't beat yourself up, but show you make an effort to learn and reflect. Have someone else test with you or after you. Watch later what the customers will report. Make an effort to know.

5. Co-create with me or pretty much anyone

Like most people, I have self-inflated sense of self and I like the work I have done. Ask me to do the work with you, co-create idea lists, plans, priorities, whatnot and by inserting a bit of me into what really is you most likely makes me like what you do a lot. 

Pro tip. This works on actual managers too. And probably on people who are not me. You also might gain something by tapping into people around you, and just seeing you use others makes you appear active, because you are! 

6. Mind the cost

Your days at work cost money. Make sure what you cost and what your results are are balanced. Manage the cost - you make choices on how much of time you give on a particular thing. Be thoughtful and focus on risks. 

Time on something isn't just a direct cost of the time. It is also time away from something. In the time I spent writing this article, I could have:
  • Had a fruitless argument over terminology with someone on the internet
  • Set up a weather API and tried mocking it
  • Read the BDD books - Formulation that I have been planning on getting at all week
  • Played a fun game of Don't Starve Together
  • ....
We make choices of excluding things from our lives all the time. And I will have my perspective on *your* choices of cost vs. results. 

All in all, I think we are all on a learning journey, and not alone. Make it show and allow yourself to improve and grow.