07 April 2017

Everyone Can Be a Software Tester


Who is a tester? I’m pretty sure that 99 percent of people reading this article are from IT industry, but still, it’s important to remember, that this job has practical application in every area of life.

Few words about testing

Let’s take a look at the car industry. A driver testing latest models from famous car brands are my first association with a tester job. But before any car hits a test track, it must pass proper procedure or a set of procedures, known as QC (Quality Control). They will confirm (or not) that tested car doesn’t have any faults, which may cause an accident. When talking about car production, we also can’t skip a topic of car parts production in factories.

Most of the work is automated. Thanks to that, a role of human is marginal and limited to signing practice reports. A process of testing in such a factory is also limited to machines, which use different sensors to verify i.e. the size of specific parts or durability of used materials. A tester’s role is important also before the beginning of a production work. During a design process, tester as a QA (Quality Assurance) must capture all errors.

Everyone can be a software tester

A tester in a software house, same as a tester in a car factory, may work on different positions, depending on personality traits, skills and predispositions. We can just simply say that “everyone can be a software tester”.

Everyone had to test something during his life, starting from different programs of an automatic washing machine and ending with proper settings of drill-driver. To be a tester, you just have to use something for a while and draw appropriate conclusions afterwards, i.e. this drill hasn’t got enough power to drill a hole in a concrete wall, or this washing machine has a container for washing powder too small to wash those dirty clothes.

A person without testing experience, but with industry or branch knowledge, may be a perfect software tester. Thanks to a fresh look at the product, that person can indicate its functional defects immediately. An accountant, who’ve worked for a long time on an old version of accounting program, can be a good example of a perfect tester. The new version may be less usable and because of that same work will take more hours.

The importance of functional tests

Functional tests are the least complicated and the most important in the process of testing because only those tests will show us, whether software is suitable for the end users. However, it’s important to remember that that person should work under the watchful eye of the experienced tester. In my opinion, hiring tester without experience as the only tester is not a good solution.

Automatic tests require knowledge of specific technology. The bored or discouraged developer can be a good candidate for the automatic tester. After 1-hour webinar about Selenium, he will automate half of some app and will flood his colleagues with a bunch of errors.

Technical people will also prove themselves during integration and performance testing. Are you interested in computer networks? Have you heard about Stuxnet worm, which completely paralysed Iran’s atomic centre? Do you know how Russians affected the results of elections in the USA? If so, you will become safety test specialist quickly.

A tester and his personal traits

The job of a tester can be very differential, depending on a project and a profile of the company. In principle, there are no limitations, but a good tester must have some specific personality traits, connected with the way he sees himself. Those characters are frequently called soft skills. The most important are: patience, coping with stress, self-control, inquisitiveness, ability to learn from mistakes and concentration on improving skills.

One of the most important personal traits of a tester is an ability to communicate effectively within a team, mostly composed of developers. Also, it’s crucial to notice small nuances in their behaviour – to read their body language, the tone of voice and emotions. Those traits are essential to avoid unnecessary conflicts and to maintain positive atmosphere during work.

If you want to become a tester, or if you want to find out more about tests, errors, defects and so on, you’re welcome at BiałQA group meetups (Białystok Quality Assurance Group).

Dominik Żukowski
Software Quality Assurance Engineer

Senior Software Tester. Graduated from the Bialystok University of Technology with a master degree. Works as a Test Engineer and spends most of his time on functional testing of LIMS system. In posession of ISTQB Foundation in Software Testing and PRINCE2® Foundation Certificate in Project Management and Professional Scrum Master. Organizer of BiałQA, a meetup in Białystok for those interested in quality assurance.