Bloggers Club: The Essential Skills for Testing

I’ve been pondering about this blog post since I saw the Ministry of Testing discussion post  and to be honest, I really struggled to interpret it. I mean, how do I define essential skills exactly?

To help me structure my thoughts for this post, I’ll be interpreting “The Essential Skills for Testing” to be “What skills are useful for a great tester?”

Strong communication skills

Let’s be honest, we’ve all met people who claim they have communication skills or even strong communication skills and you can’t help but roll your eyes.

Like wth does that even mean?

In my opinion, strong communication skills (for a tester) means that a tester is:

  • Able to communicate exactly what, where, why, how, etc they have tested in such a way that the team understands what they did
  • Able to communicate exactly what, where, why, how, etc they will test a feature (etc) in such a way that the team understands what they plan to do, and can help expand on those ideas/or question them – to me, the second part is a test of how well you communicated what you plan to test.

Can give effective, actionable feedback

Test reporting and bug reporting is essentially feedback.

A tester is giving the team (often the developers) feedback on the feature (etc) that they have tested.

Often we expect/hope for people to gain some sort of value from our feedback, maybe we want them to know what a great job they did, or maybe we want them to know there are some areas of the feature that had quite a few problems. If it’s the latter then a tester should deliver the feedback in an effective, actionable way.

I don’t think a tester should just write a bug and say “it doesn’t work”. What is a developer supposed to do with that sort of information? There’s no clear point for the developer to start investigating. Even if you don’t know exactly what the problem is, you can note down what you did to investigate the issue; what you tried to do etc.

Appreciation for the bigger picture

When I started my career, I sometimes struggled to appreciate the bigger picture. Testing and software quality was in the forefront of my mind and I struggled to comprehend why/how you could knowingly release software with bugs in it, or why people didn’t want to dedicate more time to testing, or more budget to testers. (I’ve talked a bit about this in an earlier blog post)
I only saw the testers/testing perspective but failed to appreciate how testers/testing fit into the bigger picture.
Often, decisions need to be made where if you have limited time and resources, then something has to give (often testing time unfortunately), now you don’t have to always agree on the decisions made but if you accept that sometimes you don’t get what you asked for – then you know (hopefully early) to prioritise your testing so the most important/riskiest areas are covered first.

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