I’ve been in the QA industry for years now. As a tester, I’m passionate about my job and I feel lucky that I’ve been able to pursue it and gain knowledge with experience. But I wasn’t always a tester. I started my career as a developer. My job was to create quality code for video games. But why did I choose testing over developing? This is among the many questions that I’m asked about my job. Most people believe that a developer has a much wider reach and influence on the quality of the product and hence, there’s a lot more to learn in developing as compared to testing. Another question I’m asked a lot is what my understanding is about testing? In this article, I’ll try to address these questions and I hope my perspective will add more to your knowledge.
Do I intend to improve quality through testing?
No. At least that’s not how I see it. In my view, a tester’s job is not to create, assure, or ensure quality. Instead, our job is to find the truth about the product. Yes, I’m hopeful that the efforts I’ll put in will result in the improvement in the quality and that’s natural. But improving quality is not my direct intent. I like to call myself “The Destroyer of Dreams”. Yes, it might sound harsh but that’s my job. Clients are often so optimistic about their product that they overlook the flaws that it has and the adverse effects it can have on their businesses. I put my efforts into dispelling the illusions for the betterment of clients and I don’t mind being blunt while doing so.
Why did I choose testing over developing?
The choice had more to do with my personality and preferences rather than the impact. As I said, I started my career as a developer. I’ve nothing against developers or the job, as I said, some believe that it’s a job more impactful than that of a tester. But it felt that working on the same codebase day after day wasn’t exactly my thing. I felt that it was a small playing ground with so many rules. I like flexibility. I felt that I wasn’t playing on my strengths that were systems thinking, rhetoric, and test management because of which I could see that there were a lot of people who can code as well as me or even better than me. Fortunately, I was offered an opportunity in testing and I wasted no time in shifting to it so that I can apply my technical skills yet still tinker, explore, and solve puzzles. With testing, I’ve always liked the flexibility that I have. I choose my way of encountering the product and I love the challenge of finding the problems in the product. Again, I love the name I have for myself. It’s all based on the situation. I feel like a dolphin playing in the large ocean.
If you want quality, look for the source. But there’s a catch
And the catch is that you’re never sure about the source. When I entered the test management world, I asked myself the same thing, “What’s the source of quality?”. But my question centered more around myself rather than the product. “What’s the source of my quality as a tester?”, I asked. I was enthusiastic and wanted to know everything about testing. I wanted to know how it’s done and what’s the right way to approach testing problems. I was thinking like a testing methodologist. It turned out that studying it was much more difficult than I expected because most of the books available online were written by those who didn’t know how to test. After years of research, I found a great truth. It is that testing is in our minds and it’s all about the mindset. It’s about the attitude we have towards the problem as well as the thinking patterns that we engage in when we test well. This led me to social science, general systems theory, cognitive science, epistemology, and eventually the study of interactional expertise and tacit knowledge.
My quest for finding the source led me to people and the discovery of my new interests
It was later in my career that I found out that training and coaching is a source of satisfaction for me, one of the reasons why I write articles and share my experiences with others. What led me to it? People. As I discussed, I found out that mindset plays a key role in achieving testing goals, therefore, I started interacting with people more and more to observe, find problems, and see how else I can contribute to quality. Without a doubt, quality comes from people. But I learned that people are a mess. I found out that training and coaching is one way to set them free from ignorant patterns and possibly create the next generation of leaders. This is where my satisfaction stems from. But apart from satisfaction, the reason why I do it is that it’s monetarily feasible. I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t. Two of my most favorite topics are pure general system analysis and test management. But I haven’t been asked about conducting a session regarding this yet.
Why is testing important?
I agree, developing is a source of quality creation. But how would you know if you succeeded in doing so? Testing is the only answer to this question. Testing is only unnecessary if the risk due to failure is low enough that you don’t need to wonder if you succeeded. But as long as quality and success are important, testing will remain relevant and so will the testers.