The old order changeth yielding place to the new ..” – this saying is a universal truism in the world of software application development and testing is no exception.
The world of testing is today turning topsy turvy ... the rules of the game are changing and testing professionals need to adapt to this new normal. The testing discipline which was very rule based (entry exit criteria, well documented requirements …) is evolving very fast and undergoing a massive transformation. The reality on the ground that I see fast emerging is one where testers are no longer limited to testing in the testing phase of the SDLC but equally accountable for the quality of applications that go into production.
Based on years of experience in handling testing programs of varying sizes and complexity across industries and geographies, I see a perceptible shift in expectations. No longer can testing professionals take shelter in citing dependencies which are external and not in their control when defects get reported in production. The message in the enterprise is loud and clear – testers need to answer for application failures; it’s perhaps only the degree of ownership which can be debated. Also the “structured” testing approach while still required now needs to be flexible enough to cater to a workplace that is growing increasing chaotic or creatively chaotic as some would like us to accept.
In this post, I draw on experience in handling testing in an environment which does not support what a testing professional normally deems as necessary factors for working and succeeding. How does one suddenly cope with a work environment where the rules of testing are breached more than followed; for testing to be successful and for testers to survive a new paradigm is required which is based on a #Assurance mindset and not just a testing mindset.
I will this article focus on the softer skills that need to be imbibed by testing professionals in this new age and time. Later will get into other aspects.
Testers today should inculcate a very high sense of ownership for quality – character traits that aid are “extreme” pro activeness – finding ways of getting to know the requirements even when you are not formally invited for requirements elicitation workshops , “extreme” flexibility of adapting to changing priorities and crunched timelines ; “extreme” doggedness in tracing defects to closure and an “extreme” sense of end user centricity which means the ability to see beyond the written specifications (if it does exist at all) to use experience and usability of the application. In other words it is the age of "extremes” in which testing needs to happen.
While the above might appear as a compromise to the testing purists, let me clarify that that I am an ardent supporter of structured and disciplined ways to test but realistic enough to understand the need to adapt testers and testing approaches to an increasingly agile (some feel it borders on being unstructured in reality) and fast paced world of software application development.
Signing off for now … would love to hear our comments & your experiences of assuring quality of large scale enterprise applications in a world where application development & project lifecycle do not to follow the rule book in most cases.