"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.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Saving your job versus speaking truth

Some of us have a designation such as “Software Tester”, or “Software Test Lead” or “Software Test Manager” but observing what we do at work makes me think our actual designation is “Job Saver”.

For every action to be performed we ask ourselves a question, “Would this take away my job?” and then do what we consider appropriate to get an answer “No” for the question. So, we never get to say what we want to say. Well, sometimes projects suffer a great deal because some of us hide the truth from the management.

Being in testing, which is a profession of providing information to business decision takers, hiding the truth is a disservice to them. Aren’t we crazy? We offer a disservice and expect our salaries to be hiked at regular intervals.

For instance, we know, functional coverage alone won’t be sufficient; especially when we are the only team testing that product. Yet, we don’t say, “Hey, look, we would be in a problem if we continue the same way. While you have others focus on functionality, I shall try covering non functional aspects”. Instead we listen to what the developers say or do what we have been asked to do because we are in a profession of saving our jobs.

I don’t know why only the test team is given instructions from other teams as to what to do and how to do. I also don’t know why such testers are hired? One thing I know is why such testers are paid less.

I know that a paying job is very important. I am an independent consultant and I have been without a paid work for a couple of months with a home loan EMI as much as 30,000 INR. For some of us not being in a paid work doesn’t necessarily mean without work. Sometimes non paid work generates paid work. Look at this blog, it has generated enough paid jobs for me. However, I dont blog necessarily to get paid. I would have been exposed as a fool if I did so. I don't run Google Ads. I love writing and I like to record things for my own purpose, if you get benefited by it, I am very happy. I like you to help me learn a few things. There is lot of learning in the comments section on my blog than in some of the posts. I am providing myself an opportunity to learn from you or maybe unlearn, too.

One of my responses in LinkedIn Software Testing & Quality Assurance generated a paid work of $1000. Another response helped me get a work as a Chief Tester of Beta Testing Skype based Dating application Skyecandy for 8 months and I hired some of my students to beta test them. Those who come to my public workshops are also those who might have read or heard about what I said somewhere to get convince to pay for the workshop. I hope they are gaining value for money.

To my fellow Indian testers, I am not so different from you. Wait, I am. As a matter of fact I lack some skills that you have. So, you can survive without being an employee and yet get paid work like how I do. However, you might want to lay a foundation to be able to survive without being an employee of an organization, right from today. If you won’t run out of money and work, you’d speak different than what you are doing today.

Please, I am not asking you to be arrogant. I am suggesting you to think about speaking your heart when it requires to.  If you are fired for sharing the truth then staying there won’t help your career growth either. So, you are liberating yourselves from a place where your career would stagnate.

Please, I am not asking you to get yourself fired but I am suggesting that, stagnating your career isn’t what you should be doing to yourself.

Firing you isn’t as easy as you may think it is. Having been a Test Manager, I know it’s not easy to say, “You are fired”. If it was so easy, you and I should have been fired multiple times in our career for the mistakes we did. That’s the proof in the pudding.

So be truthful, to yourselves and the organization that is paying you. When you do so, you gain a satisfaction that is not matched by any other rewards. When you speak truth, the organization benefits and when they benefit, they want to benefit you, too.

Are you afraid? Afraid of what?

Skill takes away fear. Unskilled people can be easily bullied. Be skilled or be bullied, the choice is yours.

35 comments:

Test Explorer said...

Completely agree with what you right. And posts like these give people like me confidence and belief that if I learn then I am more important than my job.

Thanks for inspiring me to learn more
~Gunjan

Zeger Van Hese said...

As test consultants we often find ourselves between a rock and a hard place:
we should be providing value to our customers, doing whatever the customer thinks brings value for him.

Should we go against that? If a client hires us for doing A and B because that is what matters to him,
should we say to him: "Well I don't think we should do A and B, we best do A, C and D instead"?
It will often be a thin line between "good advice to enhance the customer's value" and "misplaced arrogance/questioning his sanity".

I think we should walk that thin line and keep the right balance.
On one condition, that is that we clearly elaborate on (or show him) how we think A, C and D could possibly deliver more value to our customer.
A customer that is worth working for will value such well-argumented suggestions, I think.

Good post, Pradeep.

Mohit said...

Hello Sir,

Again a brain storming post. But I need to say something regarding few quotes:

>> Some of us have a designation such as “Software Tester”, or “Software Test Lead” or “Software Test Manager” but observing what we do at work makes me think our actual designation is “Job Saver”.
- I think, being a Job Saver is not wrong always. Ofcourse, as testers, we have responsibility towards stakeholders but at the same time as a human we also have responsibility towards our family and friends. So anybody's decision always depends on the circumstances. Sometimes we don't like what is happening but still we need to agree with that for us and for others who are associated with us.

>> For instance, we know, functional coverage alone won’t be sufficient; especially when we are the only team testing that product. Yet, we don’t say, “Hey, look, we would be in a problem if we continue the same way. While you have others focus on functionality, I shall try covering non functional aspects”. Instead we listen to what the developers say or do what we have been asked to do because we are in a profession of saving our jobs.
- What should we do If management ignore the information put up by test team. For eg: Sometimes I reported about the potential risk which could stand in future but management ignored that. Later When the issue was reported by client then they took appropriate action and it happened many times.

>> I don’t know why only the test team is given instructions from other teams as to what to do and how to do. I also don’t know why such testers are hired?
- The reason might be nobody like issues or there might be some business strategy.
While working for a product, I logged lot of issues. All the issues were valid but they were not fixed. The issues were neither rejected nor deferred; they were postponed due to other developments in the pipeline and they remained in pipeline until the releasing of product.

Anne-Marie said...

Hi Pradeep,

As an independent test consultant I can identify with a lot of things you write.

You raise a very interesting point when you write:

"To my fellow Indian testers, I am not so different from you. Wait, I am. As a matter of fact I lack some skills that you have. So, you can survive without being an employee and yet get paid work like how I do. However, you might want to lay a foundation to be able to survive without being an employee of an organization, right from today. If you won’t run out of money and work, you’d speak different than what you are doing today."

There is no such thing as a "permanent" job these days, so I agree with you its misplaced trust and it is important to be able to survive on your own. Though working for yourself doesn't suit everyone.

When times are quiet (and there will always be lull times) I help out at the AST online courses.

Keep up the great work. I admire your honesty.

Anne-Marie

Horizon said...

I spoke my heart and now I have resigned as I was sick even the lowest developer mocking me.
I was put in a client facing role, where I was responsible for the code quality.
Funny thing, even initial trainings (DEV and QA) taught us QA can not test a code and increase the quality.

Now, I have quit my current job and dont have an offer in hand.

AND the way things are in INDIA - its tough if they see a gap in your job.

Kashif Ali Habib said...

Nice Post Pradeep.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Horizon,

I spoke my heart and now I have resigned as I was sick even the lowest developer mocking me.
I was put in a client facing role, where I was responsible for the code quality.
Funny thing, even initial trainings (DEV and QA) taught us QA can not test a code and increase the quality.


A tester being responsible for the code quality is not at all meaningful unless it is his own code.

Plus, saying "No" to that work might have saved you from this situation.

Now, I have quit my current job and dont have an offer in hand. AND the way things are in INDIA - its tough if they see a gap in your job.

The most important thing is you still have your brain and skills in place. That should be of good help.

So, one of the skills you might want to work on is seeing if by accepting something you'd be falling into a trap like what you described above. You learnt something very valuable that other testers might not have.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@ Anne,

When times are quiet (and there will always be lull times) I help out at the AST online courses.

Sometimes that is better than accepting low paying jobs.

There is no such thing as a "permanent" job these days, so I agree with you its misplaced trust and it is important to be able to survive on your own. Though working for yourself doesn't suit everyone.

When I told my parents that I am going to be an independent consultant, my mother asked me, "You wont have a permanent job?" to which I said, "Yes, just like anyone else". :)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Zeger Van Hese,

Should we go against that? If a client hires us for doing A and B because that is what matters to him, should we say to him: "Well I don't think we should do A and B, we best do A, C and D instead"?
It will often be a thin line between "good advice to enhance the customer's value" and "misplaced arrogance/questioning his sanity".


What if the client finds out that he hired us and we didnt tell him that he ought to be doing C and D, too?

So, I have been learning the power of AND HEURISTIC. If we say, "You are doing A B. I see these value in doing C and D. So, if we were to do C and D, not doing B wont cost us" then maybe, that might sound interesting.

However, I agree to you, there are contexts where we need to balance it out.

Hey wait, we could Mention In Passing!

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Mohit,

- What should we do If management ignore the information put up by test team. For eg: Sometimes I reported about the potential risk which could stand in future but management ignored that. Later When the issue was reported by client then they took appropriate action and it happened many times.

Read Michael Bolton's post http://www.developsense.com/blog/2010/05/when-testers-are-asked-for-a-shipno-ship-opinion/

While working for a product, I logged lot of issues. All the issues were valid but they were not fixed. The issues were neither rejected nor deferred; they were postponed due to other developments in the pipeline and they remained in pipeline until the releasing of product.

Read Michael Bolton's post http://www.developsense.com/blog/2010/05/when-testers-are-asked-for-a-shipno-ship-opinion/

Chris said...

Hi Pradeep,

I've read so many wonderful posts of yours, since discovering that testing is actually a *craft*, and that we may actively seek improvement. This is a mindset that I would love to promote.

However, I can't seem to get my team interested in the idea that there is more to being a tester than simply the product in front of them. I know that you've been a strong supporter of sapient testing. I was hoping you could lend some advice on how to share the spark.

vvk said...

A very touchy read .
But during the recession every one was playing safe not only tester, but also Tester/developers/project manager. No one was ready to raise the voice against the Test Manager/Client in the ways of working. You never know when you will be in the line of fire and when it comes to the headcount reduction you may become the victim.This can also effect the appraisal that you are due. Hence testers always take a subtle route.

I have been very honest to my profession doing the best what is possible. But i see that it never is valued, the product goes out in the market with bugs and companies survive with the issues.So even after repeated suggestion if the testers views are not values what should keep him going on to give suggestion ?

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@VVK,

I have been very honest to my profession doing the best what is possible. But i see that it never is valued, the product goes out in the market with bugs and companies survive with the issues.So even after repeated suggestion if the testers views are not values what should keep him going on to give suggestion ?

Two things:

1. Read Michael Bolton's post http://www.developsense.com/blog/2010/05/when-testers-are-asked-for-a-shipno-ship-opinion/

2. Are you expecting people who hide speaking truth to value your honesty?

Sandy said...

Your blog makes a lot of sense Pradeep. I am happy that i know and have met people like you. Thanks so much for sharing what you feel.

sunjeet81 said...

Hi Pradeep,

strong thoughts .

In my view one can go further than that ,
bottomline is if one is excellent in his craft , is honest and not an unprofessional prick then you can go further than just saving the job Vs speaking the truth ...
speaking the truth AND staying in the job :) . my personal sucess rate with that policy has been 75 % though.

having said that , it is the unfortunate reality of Indian IT work culture , emphasis is too much on carrot and stick policies and witch hunts ....rather than mutual development , transparency and honesty .

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Sunjeet,

having said that , it is the unfortunate reality of Indian IT work culture , emphasis is too much on carrot and stick policies and witch hunts ....rather than mutual development , transparency and honesty .

All of India or just most of India? The India around you and me is definitely better. There are people like us and there are people wanting to be like us ( in the context of honesty ) so there is a hope for expansion.

sunjeet81 said...

It has been the case at most place that I have worked and I have worked pretty much across the spectrum ( in terms of company size and nature of testing ) .

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Sunjeet,

The question is: Will people working with and for you have a different experience than what you had by working with others?

sunjeet81 said...

Yes , i think so..
that has been the case according to my observations and the feedback that I have received , till now :)


In my view the root cause flows top down from senior management ,
if there is a culture of fear that if you speak out, you are going to get haunted in the future , then I think let alone testing nothing can function effectively in a company .

and what you do is spend all your energies in making "reports and figures" look pretty on the boss's table and fudge facts
rather than presenting the real picture.

Ram said...

Hi Pradeep,

An wonderful post which speaks about the real life fact in a software testing professional's life.

This keeps me sleepless nights to thin about why I am stagnant in my career with the employer.

Thanks once again.

Chetan Giridhar said...

Hi Pradeep,

I think you have hit the nail on its head with this post of yours! Even I felt this many a times from my experiences as a tester. I guess the best way to handle this is to say what you feel and add value to the team, ultimately that's what you are hired for.

Chetan Giridhar

Suresh said...

Today we were disucssing the same topic and i saw ur blog, irrespective of fear if we tell the truth ;) as i did once that time management may behave different later when they see the insight, your words will be taken.

Good blog once again

By the by my brother a passionate tester who started writing blog by reading your blogs in his company intranet and got nice reviews and other testers/developers told they were motivated by his writings.

Yesterday he published all his writings in the following blog.

Please read it when you have time and have your comments on it.

http://atestersjourney.blogpspot.com/

Suresh said...

The link given was wrong please find the correct link

http://atestersjourney.blogspot.com/

Rahul Gupta said...

Pradeep,

Thanks for this post; it’s like listening to a true story.

Being in testing, which is a profession of providing information to business decision takers, hiding the truth is a disservice to them.

What stops someone from speaking the truth?

Most of my friends say that their manager won’t listen to their inputs on things being done in a certain way and there is better way to do it, which is true at times. And if someone tries to speak truth here, it becomes an EGO issue for seniors and focus is moved from delivering a quality product to proving a point.

Most of the people with less than 5 years of work experience (in terms of number of years they have been employed) face the similar issues. I am saying this because I have less than 5 years of work experience.

I am not an expert to comment on all the things as I am not a “know it all guy”. There are many things that I have no idea about. As far as I understand this, the problem is not being afraid of speaking the truth; the real problem is How to speak the truth without hurting EGOs. We all worry about getting good ratings in Performance Appraisals at the year end. And I find lessons like “Boss is always right” misleading. At times we don’t know how to report some issues and the issues in question are not as easy as reporting a Defect.

Can we expect seniors to shrug off ego and concentrate on getting the work done while being considerate and at the same time can we ask juniors to work harder, come up with relevant data without being arrogant? I think, we should focus on achieving Win:Win situation for both Seniors and Juniors. And there is always a way as James said in response to one of Pradeep’s post “Be Ambitious”.

Thanks,
Rahul Gupta
http://BugMagnate.blogspot.com

Passionate Teser said...

Good Post Pradeep !!!

You are the inspiration for me to post testing blogs...

http://atestersjourney.blogspot.com/

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@ Suresh and @Atestersjourney,

You are brothers in software testing I know of and its cool. I wish you the best.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Rahul Gupta,

Today Morning I was reading a chapter in Jerry Weinberg's book More Secrets of Consulting in which Jerry suggests checking our action when others around us are behaving in ways that we think is not congruent.

That might be an interesting thing for you to ponder over.

Additionally, I have started to believe that Ego can be tackled.

Rahul Gupta said...

@Pradeep,

Thanks for your reply. You always clear air around things in your own way which I find little tricky to decipher at times.
I'll definitely ponder over the book you suggested as I also want to learn the ways to tackle ego.

Thanks,
Rahul Gupta

Anonymous said...

I somehow feel posts like these show testers and testing as a low profession. Dude, Software testing if done in a committed and right manner, it gets the best respect from the entire management and the development team. As nobody wants to loose money and nobody wants their name to get spoiled in the industry. You don't need to be a consultant to be a good tester, you can be one even when you are with a permanent job. Resigning your job when you are not heard is like running away just because its raining. Show everyone that you have the umbrella which will help them to shade from rain, that will show your true potential.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Anonymous,

I somehow feel posts like these show testers and testing as a low profession.

Maybe you are right. However, I want to ask you a couple of questions. First: If you were speaking the truth about my post, what was the need to post as Anonymous?

Is the "anonymous" umbrella something that you like to have?

Dude, Software testing if done in a committed and right manner, it gets the best respect from the entire management and the development team.

I liked that you used the word "if". Who knows what software testing is? In every forum you see testers who spend most time in testing themselves being confused of what it is and you go to say that management understands what it is and shall recognize it. Maybe, you are still right. I don't know.

You don't need to be a consultant to be a good tester, you can be one even when you are with a permanent job. Resigning your job when you are not heard is like running away just because its raining.

What do you think I wrote in this post?

Show everyone that you have the umbrella which will help them to shade from rain, that will show your true potential.

First, show everyone who you are by taking out the Anonymous umbrella you seem to have. That would at least help some readers of my blog to not be misguided by what I write. Seriously.

Eusebiu Blindu said...

Nice post! I also read and saw your comparison on testers vs people who work as a tester. Also the example with hiring tester interview compared to hiring a car driver.

Your conclusion in this post is great!

SteStuff-Everything Test Eng Needs said...

Awesome topic, i think you can talk on any topic :)

First thing everybody has to do is, try to find some way, where you can earn some bucks though you got fired.

Once you got that confidence, you can be honest, you can do what you think and etc....

pardhasrinivas said...

i felt very desperate when i came across a fake tester working in a small company with 2 1/2 years joined recently don't know what is a web application but testing it .how can they be caught.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Pradhasrinivas,

Talking to the person and helping him/her understand the problems to their careers associated to faking is the kind of help I would offer.

There is a black list of companies who provide fake certificates available with NASSCOM, you may bring that to your management's attention so that this doesn't happen again.

Santosh Shukla said...

I like it!!!