"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why is testing monotonous? The unspoken truth!

My previous post ( Becoming a developer, who is less disturbed by a tester [ in 3 pages ] ) gave me a little surprise when a tester came back saying, "Hey you are helping developers, doesn't that make testers job difficult?"

Another surprise today: 2 testers who were online, pinged me to say that they were doing a monotonous job. When I questioned them I was excited with the work that they had in their hand.

Take a look at one of the conversation:

tester_a: upgrade testing is awfully boring. Any views on this?
pradeep: upgrade testing, what do you mean by that?
tester_a: testing upgrade of a product from older to latest version
pradeep: wow! It's exciting.
tester_a: what would make it exciting?
pradeep: Thinking of what kind of update issues, the product or users might face.
tester_a: there are no issues. it either works or doesn’t. its not scenario specific either and with around 45 platforms to support and 6 methods of upgrade ...its monotonously boring
pradeep: ok, let me give you a list of tests that I might want to test, if I am asked to find important problems quickly.

*What bores a tester always interests the user*.

tester_a: ahan!

pradeep:

1. What if the product while it's getting updated, is hooked off the network?
2. What if an update file is corrupted?
3. What if an update file is infected with virus?
4. What if an update file for a specific platform is fed to another platform?
5. What if your reboot the computers while it's updated?
6. What if the server is reset while a client is updating?
7. What if an application on a client interrupts the update?
8. What if an upgrade fails? What more problems could be hidden with it?
9. What if an auto update and a manual update is attempted in parallel?
10. What if software is attempted to uninstall when an update to it is happening?
11. What if more than one method of upgrade is initiated from the same client with different instances of the application?
12. What if there is an upgrade of the platform happening while the product update occurs?
13. What if the resources required for the upgrade platform are squeezed?
14. What if the update file has wrong information in it?
15. What if the file date is changed to a date than the current version yet it has the latest update?

....

Now, doesn't that sound creative work?

tester_a: doing it on 45 platforms with 7 different ways = 45*7 might not be interesting!!!

a single platform ? Yes sounds "WOW" :)

pradeep: well, let me explain, How I would strategize...

Perform tests on one platform, first. Note the important problems. Look for similar problems on other 2 platforms. If they are serious problems - report and disqualify the build/release/update/whatever?

I would also negotiate with my manager for another resource or two who could help in getting this done effectively by saying, "I fear that any tester to my knowledge might find it tough to do all of that"

If you have been given time, its better you do it with passion.

*The company never thinks it is doing a monotonous job of paying you salary , every month!*

tester_a: lol that was a good reason :) thanks buddy ! You are great help at time like this :)
pradeep: Here is something that you might want to think: Soldiers are asked to work very hard even when there is no war. If they think it's monotonous and quit the job, we die at enemy's hands. There is a soldier guarding you somewhere, far away, and you better not call anything monotonous.
tester_a: hmmm
pradeep: Isn't that true?
tester_a: it’s a debatable topic
pradeep: ok, I suggest you debate with yourself on that.

_ End of chat excerpt _

Why is testing monotonous? The unspoken truth!
  1. It's made so by testers who *might* not be able to think or be creative.
  2. It's made so by testers who *might* be lazy to run those tests.
  3. It's made so by testers who *might* have not learned something that they could apply to the work that they do, to see a different result.
  4. It's made so by testers who *might* lack passion to test.
  5. It's made so by testers who *might* want to jump to development and needed a reason that others could accept.
  6. It's made so by testers who *might* not want to try any new test other than the script that they have been given.
  7. It's made so by testers who *might* want a reason to jump to another job.
  8. It's made so by testers who *might* lack motivation to test.
  9. It's made so by people who *might* be claiming themselves as testers but aren't.
  10. It's made so by testers who *might* not have skills to find bugs.
  11. It's made so by testers who *might* claim to know testing after knowing definitions and terminologies without knowing how to apply or practice them?
  12. It's made so by testers who are promoted as a test lead and *might* be happy thinking, "hurrah, no more test execution" and go completely wrong with their career in testing for thinking that.
  13. It's made so by test managers who *might* not want to allocate more resource for a huge task and yet get it done with a few testers sacrificing the quality and value.
  14. It's made so by testers who *might* want to do exploratory testing but are stuck in scripted approach.
  15. It's made so by testers who *might* be doing tasks with same mistakes.
  16. It's made so by testers who seek guidance from a person who claims to be a tester and who doesn't know much about it and yet offers great advice to his junior to learn tools like QTP, Winrunner, Load Runner, Silk... to get out of monotonous work. ( Actually, running tools for a life time and being a toolsmith and yet claiming to be a tester, is monotonous)
  17. It's not testing that is monotonous, it's testers thinking that is monotonous.
  18. It's made by testers who monotonously say "testing is monotonous"!
Those who question, don't experience monotony. Those who question, experience testing.
If you experience monotony, you aren't questioning. If you aren't questioning, you aren't testing.

Simple!

( A couple of days left before the registration *might* close for an exciting workshop on testing skills. Look for the announcement in the left top corner and register before I start saying, "Sorry" )

-- Pradeep Soundararajan - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com - +91-98451-76817

"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton

38 comments:

José Alejandro betancur said...

Pradeep,

I read your blog since last year, and I want to let you know that your articles are getting better, and better.

Keep walking ;)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@José Alejandro betancur,

Thank you Jose!

I am glad to know that you have been reading my blog and I am sure to give you much better article, each time.

When I look back at a post that I wrote an year back, it doesn't excite me yet I do not want to edit those to help me see myself growing in this craft.

I am sure you are in Context Driven Testing community where James recently mentioned that my writing has got a lot better. I am sure he must have been happy to write that since he and Michael pushed me a lot and maybe they knew it was worth spending time :)

Thanks again!

Adam Goucher said...

To combine the passion and motivation ones, I would say that

It's made so by testers who *might* be totally dis-engaged from their product.

Not that I'm browsing my feed reader whilst at work...

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Adam Goucher,

Thanks for your comment!

Not that I'm browsing my feed reader whilst at work...

:-)

Mubbashir said...

Great post! again
but let me just quote James
, If I ever find that testing is boring, I just change how I test. It isn't testing
the same product that causes boredom, but doing the same things.

I always keep this in my mind and since then, i never felt bored :-)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Mubbashir,

First I want to thank you for the comment. It's very glad to see a Pakistani tester comment and appreciate thoughts of an Indian tester on his blog.

I respect all testers and it applies the same to all testers. Be it with Pakistan or anywhere else.

I think James Bach united us and yet he didn't know he was doing that. All he did is to quote that wonderful thing.

Mubbashir said...

Pradeep,
I totally agree with you that, James really unites us, all of us. People like YOU are the real source of inspiration for me, people like you make me feel good about what i do, people like you make me do my work the way it should be done.
Thanks for being such a great source!

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Mubbashir,

Thanks for the kind words. Such comments inspires me and gives me another reason to love myself :)

I shall keep pushing to offer you more.

Meeta Prakash said...

Hey Pradeep

Good post ........I am sure this will inspire many testers (specially would be) to get their thoughts aligned in the right direction .....and develop the same passion towards testing that many of us have .....

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Meeta Prakash,

Thank you Meeta, for dropping by.
It's nice to receive your comment!

SOUMIT said...

Hey Pradeep,
In the little time between reading the title of this blog & starting to read this blog, I had only 1 thought - "Testing is boring? That's 1 emotion I've missed!"
In my few yrs of pure testing experience(earlier I was a developer/analyst also testing), I've never felt bored.
Other than the fun of testing and finding hidden treasures(u call bugs) 1 thing that also drives my testing - "My official role is to find other people's faults and I get paid for it!" It's sadistic, isn't it? ;-)
Regards

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Soumit,

"Testing is boring? That's 1 emotion I've missed!"

Wonderful!

"My official role is to find other people's faults and I get paid for it!"

You might be a good tester for the context you are in. In case you want to be a better tester, you might want to re-think and re-state your official role as To find important problems, quickly on behalf of stake holders to help them take better decisions of the product

It's dangerous for a person who is working with you to know that you are finding faults in his work. It's not easy to digest that unless he is passionate to learn from you.

I love the moment when testers or any people point at my mistakes that on correcting it can make me a better tester.


If I have found a fault in your thoughts about testing and if you aren't hurt because I found a fault in you, I expect you to understand that not all people around you would take someone finding a fault in them or their work as lightly as you take.

Instead if you help them see it as a way to better their skills, productivity through your testing, you certainly would shine better.

I hope to see you shine better.

SOUMIT said...

@Pradeep
Thanx for ur response. When I look at a bug, I do not see it a fault on part of the designer/developer. I see it as my success (No, it doesn't always have to come at the cost of someone else). Thankfully, my job definition does not have the line I wrote.
And I agree that I MUST remain aware to NEVER see or present a problem as the creator's failure. Thanks for pointing that back to me.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Soumit,

As long as your thoughts doesn't spoil relationship with developers or other stake holders, anything you do is fine.

If thinking that way helps you to find bugs, I recommend you to do that in a *controlled* activity that doesn't affect a long term relationship.

However I have been saying to myself, "Diversify...Diversify - To achieve more"

PP said...

Monotonous : humdrum: tediously repetitious or lacking in variety; "a humdrum existence; all work and no play;


This is what I get when I put define:monotonus in Google.And this is exactly what I was told when I planned to enter Testing ,its very boring…There is nothing exciting in this field. Such were the inputs I had before entering this amazing field.

First day when I saw the first test cases I felt people were right I just have to read and execute. There were two kinds of colleagues..i saw few really enjoying the task and few who were working as if they were “ sentenced to test”.

Years have passed and have seen no change in the enthusiasm in the first group and sadness in the second group. The Product we test is the same albeit it went through many upgrades but you have to see the excitement when we get the new upgraded firmware or software for our product. People want to have their hands on upgrade as soon as it reaches our office, we are excited to see if the product has completely healed from the bug fixes or treatment produced some side effects.!

I pity those testers who can’t see the beauty, the inherent freshness in this field. There are friends who say its easy for you, as you can mix exploratory testing with scripted testing When you will enter a company where processes will bind you brains, places where Exploratory testing is a strict no-no.( a bad word ,never to be uttered before a client),you will be forced to do only scripted testing. I don’t (can’t is more apt) answer to such questions, I am not sure what to say, can one separate my inherent urge to explore the product, and start automating me……

If a tool would have complained that Arre yaar this testing is boring I might have understood his (its) helplessness…..:).

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@PP,

Thanks for sharing your experience and I enjoyed reading it. I am sure others too would enjoy.

I have a suggestion to make:

You wrote I pity those testers who can’t see the beauty, the inherent freshness in this field.

Isn't it good for us not to not pity those testers and keep motivating ourselves, which in turn *might* help them in motivation as they *might* be watching us on the way we work?

I am sure those who said to you "you could do it because you mix scripted and exploratory testing and you find it amazing" would have also tried maybe not to your knowledge but didn't work for them as they didn't know how to do it and aren't seeking your help to do it because *might* be fearing to ask.

Why would I call someone a tester if he isn't questioning? :)

Learning: All we need to do is to help them do it better so that they realize the value of it and we need to do it only when they ask for help and not volunteer to help thinking that they have a problem.

Suresh said...

Hi Pradeep,

Great to see this kind of article which makes us testers to think more and question a lot. Questioning is the first and most prior we have to do.Happy testing...

Thanks
suresh

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Suresh,

Glad to know that such efforts are helping people like you.

Liana said...

"Soldiers are asked to work very hard even when there is no war."
I think this sentence says it all, as I told you, Pradeep. Many testers can identify themselves on this sentence as it is definetely very inspiring.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Liana,

Many testers can identify themselves on this sentence as it is definetely very inspiring.

Such comments are inspiring to me,too. Thanks Liana!

Arumugam said...

Hi pradeep,
Hi i'm a great fan of your Blog's. Please let me know the differences between the Application Testing and the product Testing

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Arumugam,

Thanks!

Please let me know the differences between the Application Testing and the product Testing

An e-mail to pradeep.srajan@gmail.com would fetch you answers for such questions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pradeep,

I am a regular reader of your blog from past 1 year. And I think this is the best of the lot...

"*The company never thinks it is doing a monotonous job of paying you salary , every month!*"
&
"Soldiers are asked to work very hard even when there is no war. If they think it's monotonous and quit the job, we die at enemy's hands."

are too good..

After reading your blog, I feel a log of change in my attitude towards my work.

Thanks

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Anonymous,

Thanks. Such comments help me to keep pushing through the hard times and add value to you all.

Michael said...

You've hit a number of great points here, Pradeep. When I read this article, I was reminded of the great English writer and wit Samuel Johnson. His biographer, James Boswell, was musing on whether he would get bored with London were he to choose to live there, rather than visiting. Johnson replied, "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

I feel the same way about testing. If you find testing boring, there's something you're not doing right--and it's probably that you're forgetting to take "pleasure in finding things out", as Richard Feynman would say.

---Michael B.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Michael Bolton,

Thanks for dropping by.

You've hit a number of great points here, Pradeep.

Now, I am gonna hit on another great point, which I think I missed and I know the reason.

Here it is: If testing is boring then you haven't yet known people like Michael Bolton and his work!

Rahul Verma said...

Hi Pradeep,

You have written a very good article and atleast to me it looks one of your best.

I will not lie. I have been through the feelings expressed by tester_a. But everytime such a feeling haunted me, I tried to get out of that by thinking what new things I could introduce in the way I was testing. I succeeded each time I tried this approach. So, I feel that whatever you have written in this post are golden words, and the points you have mentioned are practical and achievable.

Through the course of comments, I can see that your post made so many testers to think and feel happy about being a tester.

I am eagerly waiting for your next post. I am sure that it will unveil another golden truth about testing.

Regards,
Rahul Verma

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@ Rahul Verma,

You have written a very good article and atleast to me it looks one of your best.

Thanks for your kind words.


Through the course of comments, I can see that your post made so many testers to think and feel happy about being a tester.


That's what Tester Tested! is all about :-)


I am eagerly waiting for your next post. I am sure that it will unveil another golden truth about testing.


You'd be surprised. I am waiting to read the next post because I don't know what I'd be writing.

Mike said...

Pradeep,

I got this link from a colleague who is an Indian and from bangalore.

I went through your "TEST PROSE" and to my dismay realized that I was one of those "MONOTONOUS" testers a fortnight ago.

Let me briefly share my experience with you, A fledging "developer" barged into the Lab in which we work and came out with a simple but a very murkier bug which if undetected could have caused a humoungous loss to my firm. I have been working on it for 3 years now and missed it this time. I would attribute this to my dying passion at that point of time and it was shameful to an extent.

People appreciated ME for finding and fixing it. I attributed and would dedicate my success to my friend " The Rookie Developer" who inspite of being a developer had the instincts of a tester.


I will tell you what. If you wanna be a succesful tester, One way would be to tell yourself everday that "this is your first job and you are testing this product for the first time in your life and trust me it pays you" and secondly your experience might not enrich you at times, your instincts as a tester seem to rekindle your dying passion. To keep them alive try to be a "ROOKIE TESTER"

Thanks,
Mike

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Mike,

Welcome to my blog :-)

you wrote Let me briefly share my experience with you, A fledging "developer" barged into the Lab in which we work and came out with a simple but a very murkier bug which if undetected could have caused a humoungous loss to my firm. I have been working on it for 3 years now and missed it this time. I would attribute this to my dying passion at that point of time and it was shameful to an extent.

Thanks for sharing this experience. While reading your experience, I wish other testers who read this, understand the importance of a healthy relationship with developers. Also, the developers who *might* read this experience *might* get inspired to do more developer-testing.


People appreciated ME for finding and fixing it. I attributed and would dedicate my success to my friend " The Rookie Developer" who inspite of being a developer had the instincts of a tester.


I am a very passionate tester and being so passionate about testing, I want thank that "Rookie developer-tester" for finding an issue that *might* have costed a lot to the firm.


I will tell you what. If you wanna be a succesful tester, One way would be to tell yourself everday that "this is your first job and you are testing this product for the first time in your life and trust me it pays you" and secondly your experience might not enrich you at times, your instincts as a tester seem to rekindle your dying passion. To keep them alive try to be a "ROOKIE TESTER"


Here is something that you might ask yourself:

1. If I am seeing the application/product the same way I am seeing it yesterday, what am I missing?

2. If things appear to be same, what new learning can I get to help myself see things in a different way?

3. Well, I am bored with this product but why not I call a tester from a different team to have a look at the product whose feedback or notes or observation can get me interested about it?

4. If I am too bored about the product, maybe I am yet to see what's outside the well. Why not I seek permission to test something different for a week, which can help me take a break from this and return with ideas that can help me fish more important problems, quickly.

Thanks again,

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Mike,

I forgot to thank your colleague who is an Indian and is in Bangalore :)

Thank you buddy!

lavanya said...

HI Pradeep
Nice article and nice conversation in comments ,i read each and everyone's comments.Really it is very nice.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Lavanya,

Many thanks. Such comments helps me giving more such and you would get more such, more better :)

Neeraj said...

I perfectly agree with you, Pradeep. If you consider your job as monotonous, it will be. All this depends on your attitude.

Have you ever given a thought to the jobs of bus driver and conductor. The bus driver moves his or her bus through the same roads. The conductor keeps on punching the tickets. I believe that they do not consider their jobs as monotonous. Every day, they see a new set of people inside the bus and a new set of vechiles outside the bus :)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Neeraj,

Have you ever given a thought to the jobs of bus driver and conductor. The bus driver moves his or her bus through the same roads. The conductor keeps on punching the tickets. I believe that they do not consider their jobs as monotonous. Every day, they see a new set of people inside the bus and a new set of vechiles outside the bus :)

I have interacted with a lot of drivers ( cab/bus/auto ) and some of them feel its monotonous.

There is a challenge for them to drive safely although they feel it's monotonous and not try killing someone because they haven't done that. I recently heard from my father about a research study that states, "Every driver does a minimum of 14 calculations per second when he is driving".

I said, "that's amazing" and then thought how much should testers be able to do, if they were doing a good testing... maybe 14 million per second :)

Its not just attitude but passion!

Anuj Sharma said...

I really liked the 14th point !!!!

Hoysala said...

Hi Pradeep !!

I cam across your forum today while trying to study testing from the great WWW.I am just a new-born in this field.But after going through your blogs, i feel so confident and happy to be an entrant into the field.I am confident of excelling in the field of testing.

"*The company never thinks it is doing a monotonous job of paying you salary , every month!*"

I am absolutely in love with this comment.How true !!!

Thanks,
Hoysala G

Anonymous said...

Hi, This is really a nice article. The reasons you mentioned here happens with us sometimes, the thing we can do is to find motivation within ourselves.