"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.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Are you one among the lucky 20 testers of the world?

Hi Reader,

On August 27th I wrote, Gold mines opening up for Indian testers and many Indian testers did contact James Bach for the online seminar he was planning to offer. The gates are open now to 20 testers worldwide.

James Bach is offering a 2 free webinars, one on Rapid Software Testing - V2.1 (new!) and another one on The Unbearable Lightness of Model-Based Testing.

If you are interested to be one among the 20, hold on for a while before you e-mail James and look at the following information.

First Webinar - Rapid Software Testing - V2.1 (new! - updated by Michael Bolton and James Bach)
Date - 4th January
Time - 1: 30 AM ( Indian Standard Time )

Second Webinar - The Unbearable Lightness of Model-Based Testing
Date: 9th January
Time: 7:00 AM ( Indian Standard Time)

Of course, James has blogged this information - My First Webinar !

You have a reason to read further

As a student who interact with James Bach on a daily basis, here is my recommendation -

1. If you get a chance to be one among the 20, try using a very high speed broadband or the one that might be available in your office. I use BSNL broadband 256 kbps speeds and yet I face issues like connectivity problems, call drop and so on.

2. Keep your PC up to date with latest versions of Skype, IE updates / Firefox / ActiveX plugins that might help you avoid surprises in the last minute.

3. I recommend you to purchase a 10 Euro calling facility from Skype that helps you for all future webinars,too. You get close to 600 minutes to US/any country in that 10 Euro, so it's cool.

4. Keep a notebook and pen ready. It might help you as a tester, if you have downloaded the RST slides and or Appendices even if you are not lucky to get an invite.

5. Test your headset - speaker and microphone well in advance.

6. Prepare a list of things that could go wrong and look for work around and have them ready with you.

7. Keep yourself fresh even despite the webinar being midnight for India.

I am sure, you wouldn't want to miss this opportunity in any form! If I were you, I would request an invitation from James through a polite e-mail. For any further information or clarification on System and internet connectivity, you are free to e-mail or call me.

What James Bach has not mentioned in his blog is, "This free webinar is the Christmas/ New year gift James Bach is offering to testers worldwide".

-- Pradeep Soundararajan - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com - http://testertested.blogspot.com - +91-98451-76817

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rapid answers to rapid fire situations a tester faces

Hi Reader,

All the testers I have spoke to (in India) have these issues in common -

1. I have never got the release on planned time and my manager expects me to do a good job.

2. When we are not given enough time and the customer finds a bug, the managers come running and question, "how did it slip?".

3. I am getting no time to improve my skills as a tester, work is so much that I dont even get time to check my mails.

4. I quit my previous job thinking a new place would be better but it looks to me the new one is taking a lot of my time in generating metrics/preparing report/creating graphs than testing.

5. I am watching a script run for days together, in a few days I might feel the script will get smarter than me. ( for me not doing anything other than watching it play)

The Test Managers I have come across have these issues -

1. I am unable to gain confidence on my testers report and I need to keep my fingers crossed for each release.

2. How can I measure the productivity of testers? I use - number of test cases executed per hour or number of bugs found for a release or number of bugs found by the customer to evaluate a tester.

The customer have these issues -

1. I want as many tests to be automated, that gives me more confidence.

2. I am not happy about the testing that has been done by the company I have outsourced testing to.

There is a way you can deal with these situations my dear testers, test managers and customers!

Play football (soccer)

Aren't you thinking "This guy is stupid?"

Well, you might not think that after going through this post carefully and completely.

When you are on field as a member of a soccer team and the ball comes to you at a heated time where the opponent is two goals up, you are at a situation described above.

1. You start to think where you are standing in the field.
2. Where are your team members?
3. How many opponents are trying to attack you?
4. Whom should you pass the ball to?
5. How far is the goal?
6. Is your coach watching you?
7. Are your country fans going to kill you if you dont help to fetch a goal?
8. Will you be selected for the next match if you fail to give a good pass?
Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo, Baichung Bhutia... handles these situations good enough and so they are the best. If you need to be good enough, you too need to be one among Maradona, Pele or Ronaldo.

Yes, I have started to like you as you got the hidden message saying, "A tester needs skill to handle and win these situations".

"Pradeep, is knowing definitions, getting certified and finding more bugs enough to handle these situations?"

Ah! you broke the ice by that question. Time to say, " you might be wrong" and if you want me to say the way, its "Rapid Software Testing" .

The complexity of products has grown as a monster in the past few years and you still want to keep following the approach that was formulated long back?

In some countries like India, we are angry against the government sometimes (many times, actually) for having companies/ tax/sales Act dating 1952 - 1957 which does not suit the 2006 and 2007, without even looking at ourselves that we haven't changed the age old traditional testing process.

Wait a minute, let me grin and get back to writing. ( he he ,
My pay slip has so many columns than the one mentioned in Salary Act!)

The picture you see in this post is of James Bach's identity plate. What he means by that is "Testers light the way"
. The project or product has a lot of dark corners and areas, which testers light the way they go and help the management take better decisions. ( Note: Its not the process that lights the way, sometimes testers might even light the darkness present in the process, accept them to improve your organization and product quality)

Its high time for you to ask me "Hey get me onto Rapid Software Testing"

Here it goes - Rapid Software Testing Slides by James Bach and Michael Bolton .

Rapid Software Testing - makes you skilled, if you are a tester. If you are a Manager, it gives you ample information in a short time that helps you take better decision on the product/release. If you are a customer, you would want this to happen in the company where you have outsourced your testing work.

Remember, I talked about the football/soccer game to give another hidden message that - Rapid Software Testing encourages skilled testing and also encourages an entire team to be skilled and tells you how to tap the skill of a team member to give better information about the quality of a product.

Yesterday, Manjunath, a tester from IBM - Bangalore met me and he couldn't believe the demo of Rapid Software testing, I gave him. When he left, he had to say, "This is great! I am a CSTE certified tester and we never get through all this that really makes a tester skilled" .He also said,
"It looks to me that certification just shows that a person has interest towards testing". I was happy that he re-stated what certification means to him.

The reason why I had to put "It looks to me" in bold is because I passed on a couple of lessons that I learn't from James Bach and Michael Bolton to that tester. ( Psst! dont tell anyone that skilled testers speak that way)

-- Pradeep Soundararajan - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com - +91-98451-76817 - http://testertested.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Indian testers STEALING a testers creativity - STOP THEM

Hi Reader,

It is very disappointing to note that my article Technology that failed in India (Testing Bowl of the world) is under circulation among Indian testers through e-mails.

Now, why am I disappointed about my article being circulated all over India?

The people who are forwarding it are changing their own name and forwarding it. Now, if you are a Tester Tested reader and want to encourage me to share such learning I had, you should take this seriously and pass it on to all those who have got the mail and also to those who are about to get the mail.

If Indian testers play such a spoil sport, its going to hamper the growth of Indian Testing community.

Hey come on, its my brain child. I cant let you steal the credit!

I am writing this pretty strong as I cannot find and catch all those Indian testers who are displaying the act of plagiarism.

This blog of mine has been encouraging so many Indian testers and if you disappoint me by plagiarism, I am sure you are making me hesitant to share my future learning.

I am not sure how serious you are going to take this since you are not affected yet. I just hope Indian testers themselves do not become a barrier to other Indian testers to achieve something that India can be proud of.

This is what Michael Bolton had to say on hearing this - "A tester without integrity is a tester without credibility--and a tester without credibility won't have a career for long."

He also mentioned that such an incident happened to Cem Kaner and the community of testers there in US and Canada took it up strongly to the person who plagiarised and the author had to step down from the association and the online magazine was held.

This is India, I cannot expect an immediate revolution, yet I am hopeful.

Lets not kill each other, Lets build each other!

With tears (for fellow Indian testers behaving this way) and disappointment,

Pradeep Soundararajan

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The tester who tested his testers

Hi Reader,

This is an interesting story that came alive during a heated discussion with my manager Srinivasa. The discussion was on "bias" that multimedia testers are prone to while testing a product. (I shall talk about that in detail, in some other post but for the time being the focus is on the the story.)

Its story time again in Tester Tested!

There were two multimedia products under test, lets say Bino and Nino. A tester was testing both of them. Bino was started earlier than Nino and had reached a state where the subjective quality of the product was good enough. Bino on reaching a good enough state was made the benchmark and Nino's quality was tested against it. Bino was talked all over the company for its quality.

Each time the tester tested a release for Nino, he used to report Bino was still better than Nino. Of course, mulitimedia quality is all about subjective view but as testers we need to quantify; why we rate something poor.

For some releases, Nino was not as good as Bino and hence the testers view was acceptable. After a few such iterations, the manager felt Nino's quality had improved a lot but the tester kept rating Bino to be much better than Nino.

The manager performed a trick to find out "what is going wrong with the testers decision despite the quality seems to have improved?"

He labelled Bino as Nino and Nino as Bino and gave a release of Nino to the tester.

This time the tester gave a report saying "Bino is still better than Nino" which means the tester was biased to Bino and had formed a pre-concieved notion that Bino is the benchmark.

Now, that was a great story about "bias of a tester" and the risk of "bias" on a tester. The manager was none other than my current manager Srinivasa.

Now, some of you might form an opinion that my manager was doing a micro management. Actually if you look closer, my manager helped the tester to come out of the bias.

Now my manager has set an example to other test managers as to how they can help their testers to look into themselves. I am sure if your manager gets to read this, he would have something to learn.

This story reminds me of one of the lesson I learnt from James Bach - As a good tester, you should never say "I am sure" since what you say is what you have observed/conjecture/infer but the truth could be different.

As a tester, you do not know whether you are being tested by the product or manager and it is recommended to say "I conjecture/infer/looks like Bino is still better than Nino".

Thanks and Regards,

Pradeep Soundararajan

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

Disclaimer: Do not get biased by the title of this post. It is not to mean that test managers test their testers, it is a style of expression I used to make the learning a joy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A study on Test Coaching in India

Hi Reader,

As I am exploring the options of coaching testers in organizations through workshops that exercise a testers mind (that includes me too), I had a learning that I value and I am sharing with you here.

I never received any training as a tester in all the companies I have worked for but did train few people as an employee of a company. I have seen e-mails from the HR - Training, announcing coaching on programming languages from external people who have a reputation of handling the class well.

Does this happen to testing too?

Yes, it does but what is being taught is a traditional approach and concepts of testing. Many Indian testers think there is nothing beyond "SDLC, V Model testing, Types of Testing and Testing definitions" to learn in testing.

I wouldn't say the above training is not good enough but instead I would say, "there is more important thing that a tester should be trained on, *acquiring new skills* to test any product". ( provided you would want your testers to do a skilled testing)

We define, a good tester as someone who knows all the definitions and is able to clear a few certification programs.

Certifications arise for a commercial value and I am not sure how much value it holds except that it can fetch you a job if the person who interviews you also holds the same certification. I know a person in India, who has 14 brainbench certifications on fields like Software Testing, Project Management.... and I am not sure what this certificate means. Does it mean you know something about the syllabus or you know most of the things in the course.

When experts like Cem Kaner, James Bach, Jerry Weinberg, Michael Bolton, Mike Kelly, Jon Bach, Mike Kelly, Elizabeth Hendrikson... might say, "there is lots to learn", I am not sure if the certification really matters when you yourself know you are a good enough tester.

In the last one year, the awareness to become a skilled tester is rising amongst testers in India and by the end of 2007, "skilled testing" is the way any Indian tester would want to think about testing.

Who is helping testers to become high skilled?

There are 5 people -

  • Tester
  • Manager
  • HR
  • Training and Development department
  • Test Coach

I could see testers who have interacted with me or are my blog readers, proposing my workshop to their teams and across organization. The chain reaction came from their managers by proposing the same to the HR and or Training and Development department. Now the HR is going to play an important role in providing the workshop to the testers in their organization.

I am sure all the above 5 people would work hard enough to grow skilled testing within you and me. James Bach once coached testers in Wipro and Mindtree during his visit to India in 2003 and since then many testers in India have been awaiting his next visit. Michael Bolton too presented Rapid Software Testing in India last year and now he is going to speak in the international testing conference, Hyderabad - Dec 8 and 9. Shrinivas Kulkarni has spoken in a lot of conferences worldwide and to me he looks someone has been living with automation for a long time and that is cool to live with what you are passionate about.

Its mercury rising, Catch up with the heat!

I love to share my experiences and learning with you all. Now that I am becoming an independent test consultant, it helps me do this much better and efficient. Help me to help you ;)

Thanks and Regards,

Pradeep Soundararajan

pradeep.srajan@gmail.com or +91-98451-76817

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