This is a guest article from Pradeep Soundararajan. He is a Consulting Tester, Satisfice Inc & Software Testing Magician. Reach him at his blog Tester tested
These days a lot of people who pass out of engineering and science colleges are interested about software testing as a career. When I passed out at a time when the IT had started to boom back in India, most of the fresh graduates with whom I interacted didn’t even know there existed jobs or careers like software testing.
I was offered a job as a tester in a start up for 7440 rupees a month compared to fresh developers (who were picked from better institutes from where I graduated) being paid 34,500 rupees a month.
Today there isn’t such a huge difference between what testers and developers get paid and I consider this generation to be luckier than my generation without ignoring the idea that my generation might have been luckier than its previous generation.
When I started my career as a software tester, I didn’t find any training centre, which could coach me on software testing, and I lacked guidance. I didn’t know about Google and its power of search.
In the organization I worked for, there existed a senior software tester, not by designation or for the technical competence but just that he joined that organization 6 months before I did. He happened to coach me. I blindly believed all that he said about testing. I believed him and never questioned him.
By believing whatever he said I think I was becoming dumb. I looked for someone who could coach me and found two great people, one a developer and other a software architect in the organization whose ideas were much impressive than the senior software tester.
The duos were more open to questions from me as compared to the so-called senior software tester. When I questioned all things that I heard from the so-called senior software tester, I found that most of what the senior tester said was highly idiotic.
I realized that my quest in life was to see myself doing good or great testing in future. To do that, I must learn, I must learn, I must learn, I must practice, I must practice, I must practice…
What do I learn? What do I practice?
When I asked for information about software testing, some of my friends sent me material that was nothing more than, – types of testing, techniques of testing, different types of documentation, process of testing and development.
A question that I asked changed my life and you might want to know what that question is: Is there something beyond what all these people think software testing is which I can learn?
Now that leads to more questions. If it exists, where does is exist? Who has the information? How can I find it?
That lead me to discovering James Bach one of the world’s leading expert tester. His career graph is one of the most impressive career graph I have seen till date. He is a school drop out at 8th standard and yet became the youngest Test Manager of the world at the age of 20 in Apple Computers. He even helped Microsoft in Test Specification and was expert witness in court cases that involved investigations of the computer world. He has traveled to most countries where software testing is being done and has carried over consulting assignments there. He is a kind of tester that can make most testers in the world feel ashamed of their lack of skills, knowledge and maybe money. That reminds me to say, he has made lots of money.
I thought this man must have a secret with him that other software testers don’t know and I wanted to learn that. I found that James Bach is very similar to Jackie Chan as he considers skilled testing to be a mental martial art. Sorry, James doesn’t have any testing certification that you know of and he thinks certification doesn’t help, so don’t try to think of certification when you are thinking of James Bach, the great tester and guru of software testing.
I had to pass through several mental martial arts tests before I became his full time student. Let me not take you through the entire story but let you know that I reached a stage where he hired me to represent his company in India.
I don’t like comparing myself with others and run a rat race but some of my friends who were comparing with me were very disappointed as I progressed. I travel around the world speaking and coaching at international conferences. I am featured as an expert tester sometimes (which I acknowledge, I am not) in other countries. I have a fan following for my blog. I am an independent consult, working on different projects in a day and for different clients from different parts of the world. I coach, consult, speak, write, think, test, manage and learn software testing and problem solving. I was interviewed by CNBC as they considered me a problem solving expert and wrote a column for them as Expert problem solver. I was invited to manage testing for an organization products and services division with about three years of working as a software tester. I have tested over a hundred and twenty three products, so far.
Reputation means more money but if you do things just for gaining reputation you won’t get it. Reputation is a little tricky. People think it is about doing things what other people like but I think it is about other people liking what you are doing.
Don’t worry about too many “I”, I have written in this article and for the moment, think if you have so many “I” to say or probably even more, in testing that makes people to approach you for consultation, you would be making more money than you ever imagined you would make as a tester.
I want to see Indian testers make more money than what they have been making. That’s precisely why I am writing this article for you all.
To start in the journey, apply this heuristic: Question everything that – you hear, you see, you feel, you want to see, you want to hear, you want to feel, you don’t want to hear, you don’t want to feel and other things you think you missed.
How to apply this heuristic?
Let me give you an example to get you started: There is a common myth (which means something is fundamentally wrong but people blindly believe it) by which most testers to my knowledge in India live: Testing is done to improve Quality
- Who said the above statement?
- Why should I believe it?
- By having the above idea that testing improves quality, can any tester on Earth say how much quality he has improved?
- If a tester can’t say that then there is something wrong with the fundamental behind it.
- Improve what quality?
- What is quality?
- Who defines what quality is?
- Does a tester define what quality means?
- If I go to a hotel and the hotel owner says he serves quality food and I as a customer think the quality is not good, whose view is important?
- How can merely finding bugs improve quality?
- So, if a tester reports 5000 bugs and the developer quits the organization the same day, has the quality improved?
- So, if a tester finds 10000 bugs and doesn’t report them, has the quality improved?
- In the above case, testing did happen, and hence did the quality improve?
- If I as a tester report 50 bugs, and the developer in a context of fixing bugs introduces 100 more bugs, has the quality improved?
- Why do all other testers don’t understand the fundamental that it is a developer who can improve the quality?
- As a tester, isn’t my job to find information about quality than trying to think of improving the quality?
- Oh my God! I have been misguided all this while. So what’s testing then?
- Isn’t the above question, a good question?
- Didn’t I learn from this that many people around us are fooling and that is what is stopping me from becoming someone like James Bach?
- Do I want to be fooled?
- Should I allow people, bugs, documents to fool me?