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5 skills every QA tester must have

We use a ton of software every day. It makes us wonder who developed all this software and again, who made sure that it was fit to be used. Who, in fact, made it their job to figure out that there were no issues or defects with the software before it reached people’s hands? So, you see as a software tester you are the harbinger of new product development, enhancements and technological progress. You are successful at your job implies that someone, somewhere in this world, is able to operate a piece of technology without any doubts or fears. You, my friend, are the Santa Claus of the hi-tech world.


There are certain skills and traits that help software testers be better at their job. The following is a short list of the main factors:


Communication is the key


Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity—Nat Turner

The client communicates a set of requirements to the business team who understand it and then relay that message to the development and testing team for product development. These teams need to interact with each other and also communicate their findings with the larger team in the organization. It is a good practice to set clear deliverables and actionable items for each team at the beginning of the testing process. As a software tester, you need to communicate in a style and manner that matches the organisation’s culture and expectations. Emails should be crisp and polite, and telephone conversations should be kept short and on a need basis. Instead of focusing on finding faults, the objective should be to identify the defect in the process and find steps to rectify it. Internal communication channels like Slack should not be flooded with operational queries. It is good practice to mark a copy in emails to people relevant to the issue being discussed. The tester needs to think and decide in which situation is it required to use a reply -all option and which situation requires only a specific set of individuals to be copied to. The team lead should take initiative in setting up clear expectations at the beginning of the development cycle as to what should be the manner of communication, how should feedback be provided to the development team or the testing team. Learn to prioritise and identify what is a critical or blocker-level defect and how to report it. Work together with your team to group ideas together and make the development team and others aware of the critical defects identified.


Prioritise and ask the right questions


As a tester, you will work on an application and modules or features may be assigned to you for testing. Your module may have multiple scenarios. Understand the priority of each scenario and decide which scenarios need to be given higher priority. Ask questions to understand the user stories. Explain if you feel there is any gap in the flow of logic presented to you. Identify if there are any changes to be done and how the requirement has to be implemented. Ask relevant questions to understand the product from business and development perspectives. Producing quality software should be the benchmark for driving your output rather than only reporting defects.


Have an analytical bent of mind


It is important for a software tester to understand the behaviour of an application and analyze the data collected from testing. Analyze how the bug was reported. What test environment was used, what data set was used, and were there any performance issues? If you analyze the data and retrace the steps, it is possible to reproduce the bug in an actionable way. Analyze the results or reports after executing a test suite. Although debugging is done by developers, looking at one’s code and debugging it at the tester’s level helps one understand how to improve the test execution result further. Try to analyze your code and see whether the test execution can be improved by making any changes to your code base. Try to replicate how the end user will use the application in a real-world situation and analyze the testing scenarios from that perspective.


Knowledge of tools, processes and programming knowledge


The domain of testing has certain commonly used tools, systems, processes and programming languages. Every organization will have their defined set of tools and systems for the purpose of testing. Every tester should ardently study and learn these tools and processes. They should learn how to use these tools, what is the reporting mechanism like, how to document the findings, and which tool to use for tracking purposes. The tester needs to be familiar with the testing methodology being followed, and what is the defined process for reporting bugs or performance issues? Some commonly used tools in various organizations are JIRA, Test Rail, Selenium for test automation, Eclipse IDE, Trello Board, Slack, MS Office tools and more. An organization may use something different from the tools mentioned here. In such a case, it will be constructive to spend time and learn these tools to get on board with the rest of the teams in your organization as soon as possible. To do software testing, especially automation testing, you need to be comfortable with at least one programming language. The automation code will be written in Java, Python, JavaScript or any other language. Understanding the rules of writing the code, the syntax of the language and how to create optimized functions helps a lot in executing your automation test code and communicating with the developers.


Be kind and build a rapport with your fellow teammates


Kindness and understanding are the bedrock of any great civilization and a product development team is no different. Everybody in your organization is working to meet deadlines. Expectations are high, deliverables are time-bound, reporting and tracking mechanisms are tedious, and the workload never eases. Everyone has a set of tasks but all work together towards a common goal of developing a product which the customer will be happy with. It helps in such situations to not miss the forest for the trees. We all need to understand the bigger picture and be understanding of each other’s challenges and bottlenecks. We need to appreciate and applaud the good work done by any of our colleagues. Be empathetic in providing feedback and value professionalism above all else.


Summary


A software tester contributes to building a quality product for the end user. Having knowledge of the tools and techniques used in testing helps in performing one’s job in an efficient manner. The ability to successfully complete the testing process does not depend solely on the use of these testing tools or knowledge of programming knowledge per se. Having a great attitude to learning, being flexible, being analytical, kind and courteous go a long way in bonding the whole team together for shared goals and objectives. The end result is always a happy customer.

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