What Makes a Good Software Tester to a Great Software Tester? 7 Qualities of Highly Effective Testers
Testers are the backbone of any IT company. As they are the ones who can give the quality outcome and they are most responsible for releasing a project too.
This article explains the most important characteristic features that a great Software Tester must possess.
What You Will Learn:
- Being A Tester
- 16 Characteristics of a Great Software Tester
- #1) Be Skeptical
- #2) Don’t Compromise on Quality
- #3) Ensure End User Satisfaction
- #4) Think from the Users Perspective
- #5) Prioritize Tests
- #6) Never Promise 100% Coverage
- #7) Be Open to Suggestions
- #8) Start Early
- #9) Identify and Manage Risks
- #10) Do Market Research
- #11) Develop Good Analyzing Skill
- #12) Focus on Negative Side as Well
- #13) Be a Good Judge of Your Product
- #14) Learn to Negotiate
- #15) Stop the Blame Game
- #16) Finally, Be a Good Observer
- 7 Qualities of Highly Effective Testers
- Recommended Reading
Being A Tester
Be Proud to be a tester. You are the person who reduces the work in many fields, you are the ones who often release the projects without any defects, and you are the person whom people and the company believe more.
Finally, you are the person who ensures the peace of mind for the end users. Without you, it’s almost difficult to complete the project successfully.
As a tester, you should continuously strive hard to become better and better.
16 Characteristics of a Great Software Tester
To be a great software tester, you need to develop the following 16 characteristics within you:
#1) Be Skeptical
Don’t believe that the build given by the developers is a bug-free or quality outcome. Question everything. Accept the build only if you test and find it defect free. Don’t believe anyone whatever is the designation they hold, just apply your knowledge and try to find the errors. You need to follow this until the last phase of the testing cycle.
#2) Don’t Compromise on Quality
Don't compromise after certain testing stages. There is no limit for testing until you produce a quality product. Quality is the word made by software testers to achieve more effective testing. Compromising at any level leads to a defective product, so don’t do that at any point.
#3) Ensure End User Satisfaction
Always think what can make an end user happy. How they can use the product with ease. Don’t stop by testing the standard requirements alone. The end user can be happy only when you provide an error-free product.
#4) Think from the Users Perspective
Every product is developed for the customers. Customers may or may not be technical persons. If you don’t consider the scenarios from their perspective you will miss many important bugs. So put yourself in their shoes. Know your end users first. Their age, education even the location can matter most while using the product.
Make sure to prepare your test scenarios and test the data accordingly. After all, the project is said to be successful only if the end user is able to use the application successfully.
#5) Prioritize Tests
First, identify the important tests and then prioritize the execution based on test importance. Never ever execute test cases sequentially without deciding the priority. This will ensure that all your important test cases get executed early and you won’t cut down on these at the last stage of release cycle due to time pressure.
Also, consider the defect history while estimating test efforts. In most cases, defect count at the beginning is more and goes on reducing at the end of the test cycle.
#6) Never Promise 100% Coverage
Saying 100% coverage on paper is easy but practically it is impossible. So never promise to anyone including your clients about total test coverage. In business there is a philosophy – “Under promise and over deliver.” So don’t the goal for 100% coverage but focus on the quality of your tests.
#7) Be Open to Suggestions
Listen to everyone even though you are an authority on the project having in-depth project knowledge. There is always scope for improvements and getting suggestions from the fellow software testers is a good idea. Everyone’s feedback to improve the quality of the project would certainly help you to release a bug-free software.
#8) Start Early
Don’t wait until you get your first build for testing. Start analyzing the requirements, preparing test cases, test plan and test strategy documents in the early design phase. Starting early to test helps to visualize the complete project scope and hence planning can be done accordingly.
Most of the defects can be detected in early design and analysis phase saving huge time and money. Early requirement analysis will also help you to question the design decisions.
#9) Identify and Manage Risks
Risks are associated with every project. Risk management is a three-step process. Risk identification, analysis, and mitigation. Incorporate risk driven testing process. Priorities of software testing are based on risk evaluation.
#10) Do Market Research
Don’t think that your responsibility is just to validate software against the set of requirements. Be proactive, do your product market research and provide suggestions to improve it. This research will also help you to understand your product and its market.
#11) Develop Good Analyzing Skill
This is a must for requirement analysis but even further this could be helpful for understanding customer feedback while defining the test strategy. Question everything around you. This will trigger the analysis process and it will help you to resolve many complex problems.
#12) Focus on Negative Side as Well
Testers should have the test to break attitude. Concentrating only on the positive side will almost certainly create many security issues in your application. You should be the hacker of your project to keep other hackers away from it. Negative testing is equally important. So cover a good chunk of your test cases based on the negative scenarios.
#13) Be a Good Judge of Your Product
A Judge usually thinks if something is right or wrong. A judge will listen to both the sides. Same is applicable for testing as well. As a software tester if you think something as right, try to prove it why it is not wrong and later accept it. You must have a valid reason for all your decisions.
#14) Learn to Negotiate
Testers must negotiate with everyone in all the stages of a project lifecycle. Especially negotiation with the developers is more important. Developers can do anything to prove that their code is correct and the defect logged by the testers is not valid. It requires great skills to convince the developers about the defect and get it resolved.
Though some software testers think that this is not our task, explaining the true impact of any issue is very helpful for the developers to quickly understand the overall scenario and its implications. This requires years of practice but once you learn to negotiate you will gain more respect.
#15) Stop the Blame Game
It’s common to blame others for any defects which are not caught in testing. This is even more common when the tester’s responsibilities are not defined concretely. But in any situation never blame anyone. If an error occurs, first try to resolve it rather than finding someone to blame.
As a human everybody makes mistake, so try to avoid blaming others. Work as a team to build team spirit.
#16) Finally, Be a Good Observer
Observe things happening around you. Keep a track of all the major and minor things on your project. Observe the way of developing the code, types of testing and its objective. Observe and understand the test progress and make necessary changes if it is off the track in terms of schedule or testing activities.
This skill will essentially help you to keep yourself updated and get ready for the course of action for any situation.
7 Qualities of Highly Effective Testers
Every profession demands certain qualities from its practitioners before accepting them in and making them the best at what they do.
Software Testing demands the qualities I discuss in this article even more strongly and there are many reasons for it.
And when I say qualities, I am talking about the ‘must have's- the top abilities of testers that help them fly high and far. Dedication, hard work, etc. are a necessity for any job in the world. But the qualities we are going to discuss are absolutely inevitable for testers. Without these must have ones, testers will sooner or later risk being disengaged from their craft.
Here we go:
This has to be first on the list. As a tester, you have to question anything and everything that is unclear. Always wonder, “What will happen if I click on ‘Submit' button twice? Or thrice? Or what will happen if I click on ‘Submit' button and then hit ‘Escape' key? What will happen if I post a comment with just a white space?”
If you are a seasoned tester I am sure you have experienced this thought process before and if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you do. If you don't ask the questions, your customers will. If you don't bring all scenarios to test, your customers will.
Bottom line: Never Assume. Stay Curious. Always Ask. Always Seek.
Further reading => How the Testers Can Ask Questions in The Smart Way
#2) Attention to Detail:
This quality is really important but honestly, I am not sure how to develop it artificially. I strongly believe that it has to be in your DNA and we can only try to enhance it to perfection.
The eye for detail is an innate quality that aids you to catch/notice even the minute of the details quickly. But even those who are not born with a magnifying glass for an eye can develop the habit if you persistently try to look deeper and longer.
Satisfied with the test result? – Try again and make it a habit. It may not be born from within but it can be nurtured and developed through practice to an acceptable degree.
Bottom Line: See everything. Done? See again.
Imagination is above all else because of its endless length, breadth, and height. Don’t restrict your thinking when testing. You have to imagine the unimaginable- the rare and the rarest. Imagine right now and 100 years from now.
Ask questions, 1000s of them. What if? What else? What more and so on. Design your test cases around requirements and add a good dose of imagination and inquisition to it. Brainstorm for unconventional ideas on how a feature should work and test/find or retest defects/review the system. Imagine and implement.
Bottom Line: Logic will get you from A to Z; Imagination will get you Everywhere. – Einstein
#4) Logical Thinking:
If you think testing is merely converting sentences from requirements document to test cases, then you are mistaken by a massive margin.
All phases like requirements discussion, brainstorming features, deciding test strategy, building tests, debugging an issue, replicating production issues can benefit from logical thinking. You have to think through the possibilities, reason your steps, validate or invalidate and think about next steps. And, that’s not even the end.
Testing involves lots and lots of questions to be asked and answered. How will you ask a perfect question without thinking about the problem/situation at hand logically?
How will you answer someone's question before getting to a logical conclusion yourselves? Logical thinking ability is mandatory. And how do you build it? Whether it is an incoming question or outgoing one, always ask it to your inner self first before shooting it to someone else and try answering it till you are satisfied.
Bottom Line: Ask it. Answer it. Re-validate it. Improve it.
Further reading => How to think out of the box while testing
#5) Ability to Focus and Dissect:
In simple words, this is the ability to focus on small things and making your mind work on the smallest of details without getting distracted by the bigger picture.
As a tester, you should try not to let the big picture overwhelm and sidetrack you. You should try to decouple it and consider every unit in singularity. You should then be able to think and test everything around that small unit.
No, I am not talking about testing individual modules here; I am talking at an even granular level- one field at a time from an entire web form or one parameter from the entire set and testing it fully. Once you are done then you should be able to expand your vision towards the bigger picture, one step at a time.
Think of yourself as a Detective investigating an intricate case. Don’t leave any clue unexplored and remember everything leads you to the culprit.
Bottom Line: Zoom In. Focus. Dissect. Done? Repeat, Zoom out.
You are a tester. At your job, either you are holding a release gate or your opinion about the test object's quality that will decide if the gate should be opened or not. You have the responsibility of highlighting the current and future risks. Therefore, by no means, you can afford to miss anything- not the important tests/activities/communication.
There could be a few moments of human error but when you can, try to catch them all- Defects, scenarios, situations, risks, etc. Discipline helps you a lot in this. You have to structure your own processes and checklists while you work. You can't be casual with the product’s quality as a tester because there is no one after you to guard the fort.
Disciplined teams are far likelier to score more on every front; because they are less likely to miss obvious bugs, obvious communication or important process steps. Disciplined testers will most of the times have their own plan for any task and not go totally ad-hoc and impromptu.
Bottom Line: Discipline is doing what needs to be DONE, even if you don't want to DO IT.
#7) Constructive Communication:
You might call this a skill rather than calling it a quality. But I find that it is more of a personality trait because language and conversation proficiency is definitely a skill.
Good communication should start with good listening, forming a response, rehearsing it in mind, deciding the tone and then actually saying it.
For some, this is an inbuilt quality and others have to work towards it. But why is this very important for testers? Our job is highlighting the negatives, faults, and areas for improvement.
Honestly, no one feels good when their work, idea or approach is criticized. And that is where our constructive communication comes to the rescue. You can get the point across clearly without attacking anyone accidentally.
Bottom Line: Listen. Think. Rehearse. Deliver.
Further reading => How to Become an Excellent Communicator as a Tester
These are the 7 qualities that make you an effective tester.
I have not stated the obvious here and talked about qualities such as love for your work, dedication, sincerity, passion for learning, good work ethic, etc. because these are a given and can help anyone in any job.
So whether you are already a software tester or a fresh graduate considering testing as a career I hope this list helps you evaluate yourself and decide if this field is a good fit for you.
Try to implement the above 16 steps in your day-to-day testing activities. Practicing these steps will make you excel in the testing field. Remember testing is not only a challenging job but it is a creative job too.
Love your job and you will become the leader in your field!
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