Anatomy of effective Tester

Anatomy Of A 21st Century Tester

The make up of a successful, effective tester in the 21st century requires individuals to have complex, cross-over personalities.

Members of the test team(s) must have multiple personalities and personas – we are part investigators (Sherlock Holmes), part strategists (Napoleon Bonaparte), part business people (Richard Branson, Martha Stewart, etc.), part innovators (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc.), part creators (Stan Lee, Walt Disney) and part communicators (Robin Williams, Barack Obama).

Depending on what our task of the day is or who our audience is, we must be able to switch allegiances at the flick of a switch:

  • When we’re talking to a project manager or developers – we represent the test team
  • When we’re talking to a customer  or end user – we represent the project team
  • When we’re talking to stakeholder(s) or management – we represent the customer or end user

Therefore, when recruiting new members of the test team what’s important?

  1. Personality – You can’t teach this – the most important part of our work as testers involves effectively communicating and engaging with people. This is ingrained in our DNA. If you have someone with the right personality they’re worth their weight in gold on any team.
  2. Confident – We don’t want wall flowers within testing, people who say ‘Yes’ all the time because that’s what’s expected. Give me someone who is confident in his or her opinion, happy to discuss their opinion and call team members out if needed.
  3. Honest and Realistic – Too often test estimations are unrealistic. With everyone saying that testing can be done in a shorter period of time than estimated etc. Testers who can provide estimations that are risk-based and realistic and who can hold a discussion with stakeholders around risk and impact are invaluable.
  4. Innovative and Creative – Too often we just recruit people who can join a team, to carry out a task in the same structured way as it’s always been done. People who can join a team without “rocking the boat.” Instead, we should be actively looking for people who can join a team and provide a fresh opinion, brings ideas, and challenge the status quo.

People say – where’s the experience, where’s the certification, where’s the traditional approach to testing?

  • Sometimes you have to take a risk and give people the opportunity. How else are they going to get the experience if no one gives them a chance?
  • Certifications are okay but do they really tell you anything about an individual apart from the fact they can study to pass a test?
  • Traditions are all good but markets and technology are changing at such a rapid speed that there is no time for traditional ways of working. We need agents of change. We need people to challenge us.

Be brave. Find the rough diamonds out in the market, the individuals who have the enthusiasm, the creativity and the personality. As a leader, invest time and effort giving them the experience. Polish their skills as they gather them and pretty soon that rough diamond is now your most valuable asset.