What do you think testers need to do to be taken seriously

This question had raised in Lean coffee session at the TestBash. @FriendlyTester was kind enough to share th list. Thank you for that.

As soon as I saw the topic, I thought I should collect my thoughts on it. I too have faced the challenge in every company I had been and was able to overcome it as well. I believe these are common experiences of many others but here goes.

Learn the product by asking questions

I was a software developer before back in the era where we used Visual Basic , and then I thought testing is fascinating and wanted to change my career and never looked back. Ever since when I joined new companies, role of the tester was not recognized or either recognized but not taken seriously . We testers sit at the back of the room where cool kids – the developers, architects and business analysis take the lead.
I was never happy with this. I am a person who ask questions until I understand what’s going on and do not wanted to be ignored. The first few months of a new job can be the almost crazy time period for me because I question everything. Applications and documents does not reflect the tacit knowledge the team have. For them that piece of information is just another funtion. That how it work. That function behave because of this business rule. No team realise how much tacit knowledge everyone have until a new team member and question or say I do not know about that or show you a blank face with lot’s more questions. Induction sessions may contain too much information at a given session or the sessions may be not detailed enough as you want it to be. There is always something unsaid. Therefore always ask questions. Make sure you understand the application and its hidden rules.

Learn the product exploring

I want to be the person who everyone ask questions from. Every time I go to a new project I want to learn and want to know everything around if. I want to know how code looks like, how to control the application with configs, feature flags, how database tables look like. I do not want to be in a meeting room without knowing how to question the requirements or the solution, whether the discussion is on topic or off topic, why that person asked that question. I want to be the person who have almost all the answers or the person who may translate the business requirements to technical wording and vice versa. Therefore I try to learn these things by myself. I learn more when I explore. I get to see how the application works and get the detailed understanding. Explore and expand your knowledge.

Challenge yourself
Every time if someone doubt my abilities on my skills, responsibilities and credibility I always want to prove otherwise. Example, I worked on a project about statistics and I wanted to know more about database tables other than the stored procedures given. This was questioned by the technical lead and didn’t want to give me access to the database as it was an unnecessary complicated  task that I won’t understand. I somehow got the access and explore the tables and understood how data stored in different tables, relationships and this helped me to find more issues that not only helped us on delivering a quality product it increased my credibility on the project as well.

Manage your stakeholders
Understand your stakeholders and develop a good relationship with them. They help you to understand the product from a different point of view. This always helped me in discussions as it helps me to see the bigger picture. Know how all the different components comes together is an advantage. How sales, marketing, customer support use the application and about the other supporting applications sometimes are over sighted. By talking to the stakeholders and be interested on their job role always helped me to think outside the code and its rules. This knowledge always helped me in discussions.

Get involve in requirement gathering sessions
There was a time that I see the requirements first when development completed. Testers were not part of the requirement gathering sessions and almost projects did not understand the value. When I get the piece of function to be tested that I have no knowledge of before to understand the requirement and what the functionality does I ask questions. In many occasions it was understand that requirements may be missing or mis-interpreted by the time it reach the testing. By joining the initial meetings and I was able to share my understand with the rest of the team to prevent issues before the requirement reach the implementation stage.

In summary
It is always overwhelming when team members doubt you for what you are because you are new to the project and because everyone do not know you. Always your actions makes you who you are. Go the extra mile to learn more about the project and how its being used. Reasons behind the features and why it is built under the given rules and but not otherwise. Be confident on what you know and be responsible on what you do not know. Learn and feedback as soon as possible. Help others to understand the areas that others do not know. Get in to meetings and ask questions. Explain the business reasons behind the implementation. Always stand out. Your voice will be respected.

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Testbash 2015 impact

I was a tester for some time but I have never inspired to pursue my career and questioned myself whether I should continue but my love for what I do always encouraged me.

Blogging is not my strongest skill but with my first TestBash experience I thought maybe I should write my thoughts to highlight an important milestone and then to continue.

Going to TestBash was one of the best experiences I have come across. I had the privilege to be part of an amazing conference and meet fellow testers who share similar experiences, questions, thoughts and answers.

Meeting new people, socialize with them is little bit difficult but I always have my brave face on. But surprisingly I felt I am part of this wonderful community and talking to them made me realise where I am and what I need to do.

Workshop day arrived and I joined my first workshop with heavy heart simply because I have never seen anyone around before. I felt uncomfortable.

Rikke Simonsen’s BDD workshop helped me to understand that BDD is not always about automation. It’s always about the conversation. It helped me to think about the process we follow and how BDD can be applied. Group exercise helped me to talk to people around me. We had to take think from different project roles and come up with questions, answers, scenarios and examples. Which was hard than we thought as we tend to think of the solution and scenarios than actually talking to the business owner. Again, conversation is the key.

Simon Knight and Mark Tomlinson held JMeter workshop. As a newbie to the performance testing world it was a massive help. Both of them made Jmeter looks easy and it encouraged me to spend more time learning the tool. It was a 4hrs session but I don’t think most of us felt the time pass by. Unfortunately Amazon decided to show captcha which messed all our test code but experience was amazing.

I went to the conference day with confident as I knew it would be great. I was a stranger to lean coffee sessions but I got the chance to get included in last minute. Strange most of my group had one common question. What is the next job level for a tester.  It was a great opportunity to meet and greet people which I have met on the previous day. Already I knew few people that I can start a conversation without introducing  myself.

Every speech encouraged me to think. Think about myself, what I need to do with my career and where I am. I was thinking what I want to do in future. Prior to the conference  I was thinking to change my career to something else just because I thought my career has limited growing opportunities. But conference inspired me to think again. Use my skills and do what I love to do.

All this time I felt I am alone in a field where not much future in it. I felt bad that I didn’t know anyone in the conference. It was total my fault of not coming out from the shell and see the world around me. I think I far behind and need to work hard to catchup to the pace the industry is moving. Think differently.

99sec talks showed me how passionate people are to share information. May be I will be on that stage one day. One day…

By the end of the first day I dusted my twitter account and start following the others who I met. I never thought how twitter can help one to keep up with what’s going around. Blogs, articles that I have not come across before.

I am thankful for everyone who made my first TestBash experience memorable and encouraged me to continue what I do best.

Simon Knight asked me what was my favourite topic was on our lunch break. I said Michal Boltons’ because it let me think how words can deceive what we want to tell and how Stephen Janway’s truth scared me. Then Simon said “You should always be in touch with the community. Always”…. and I will be…