"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, 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


Anonymous said...

Just because I read "First, Break All the Rules" and even blogged on it I am tempted to modify some of your sentences. See if you like:
First one is: "A tester needs skill to handle and win these situations". When I am still under the influence of that book I would modify it as: "A tester needs talents to handle and win these situations". And the other is: "Rapid Software Testing - makes you skilled, if you are a tester" which I would modify it to: "Rapid Software Testing - makes you skilled, if you are a tester with required talents." Now you may ask why I stress so much on talent. It is because I agree with how the authors of the book differentiate between Skills, Knowledge, and Talents. You too would agree with my post that we have identified skills and knowledge for software testers; but how about talents? Do we know what kinds of talents are required to provide consistent, near-perfect performance in software testing?

Anonymous said...

Great Post, But doesnt it shows that You are trying to say that a person with thorough knowledge of Rapid Software testing makes him a skill tester, he can do anything.

But domains too comes under skills and if a tester is new to a domain then it is very difficult for him to give a productive output as per his managers or customers.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...


But domains too comes under skills and if a tester is new to a domain then it is very difficult for him to give a productive output as per his managers or customers.

Tanvir you came out with an excellent question that I intend to answer.

James Bach, whom the world considers as an excellent skilled Rapid Software Tester has been consulted by United States Air Force too, to train their test pilots. Do you think he was a Test Pilot for US Air Force before becoming an excellent tester?

I am sure you must have read this post of mine - My consulting notes - http://testertested.blogspot.com/2006/11/my-consulting-notes.html

Why I want you to read that again is because that was the first time I ever tested an application that has Tomcat server running at the back and a database interfaced with the whole package I was testing. It looks to me that I did a great job and helped the company realize that their product needs re-designing to make it a good enough product in the market.

Remember, I talked about a football game and not snooker. Football is a game that emphasize "team effort" and the winning team has 11 Maradonas on the field. Each of them have their own skills. One has a ability to hit the ball far and one has the ability to tackle the opponent well.

Rapid Software Testing is the same where if you are a skilled footballer who knows how to hit the ball far, pass your ball to the one who know how to tackle the opponent when needed when the opponent is trying to attack you.

Your organization might not get good results with one Rapid Software Tester but a whole team and that is why software companies in India like Infosys, Mindtree, Standard Chartered Software, HP(India) are the ones who have made their testers to get trained on Rapid Software Testing through James Bach and Michael Bolton's coaching.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pradeep,
I'd agree with Vinayak a 110%.

The problems faced by Testers & Managers & Customers is as good as what've u've written.

Vinayak stresses on Talent. Its the "talent" of how you prove the s/w does what its supposed to be doing or what its doing, understanding the customer's needs & usage is ofcourse a big plus. Rapid Testing is ofcourse a way. Few testers have the inquisite knowledge to see things with a darker light, that's where the

Talent comes from, the thinking, the approach of a tester from the requirement point of view, application behaviour point of view, customer point of view n ofcourse what a tester is doing.

Talent + Passion do prove is an awesome combination which is incomplete even after attending several Training Sessions.


Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Vinayak agrees with me so by agreeing with Vinayak, you are agreeing with me too.

A talented person, is a skilled person. I cannot have zero skills and yet claim,"I am a talented person".

I think we need to find out what talent means to me and what skills mean to you.

However, I might take the good thing in your comment and similarly would be delighted to see you take the good enough thing in my post :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pradeep,

I have read many of your and Bach's blog pages and it does pushes us to reframe the whole testing process.I have also downloaded few of RST materials.I agree,we need to question the all so called best practises of testing.Still i want your advice related this points.
1.In an organisation where we have all test plans and test cases.How do you see the exploration and creatively testing fits in.Should we insist our PM's to let us (testers) get a seperate round for exploration testing.

2.Can you please explain how can we measure the coverage of testing when we are doing Exploration testing.

Albeit this comment seems to be somewhat out of context.But please do reply

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

I agree,we need to question the all so called best practises of testing

Best Practices!!! Oooooh!

Here is a secret that I don't want you to share it with anybody - There are no best practices, there are good practices in context.

What works for you does not work for me and vice versa too.

Recommended reading - http://www.context-driven-testing.com/

1.In an organisation where we have all test plans and test cases.How do you see the exploration and creatively testing fits in.Should we insist our PM's to let us (testers) get a seperate round for exploration testing.

You have Test plans?
1. Do you change your test plan when a team member leaves the organization and there is a gap between the person leaving and the replacement hire?
2. Does your manager look at the test plan on a hourly basis and says, "yes, we are going as per the plan?"

Come on, in my experience we wrote test plans and we never touched that again. A project has so many dynamics and a test plan is suppose to change. Moreover, you write a test plan at so early of the project without even knowing the problems and dynamics we are going to face.

Say this in chorus with your team members "PRODUCE NO DOCUMENTATION THAT IS WASTEFUL".

Are you sure you aren't doing an exploratory testing?

I recommend you to watch Jon Bach's google video on Exploratory Testing. He asks the audience ( a big collection of testers) "How many of you have done exploratory testing?"
(Some hands go up)
Jon then says "Well, others who didn't put up their hands did exploratory testing too" and he proves it!

I am happy that you came out with questions that are relevant to the scope of discussion and of my interest.

Thanks for downloading RST but do go through it or call me up, if you think I can help you clear some confusions that you might have.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pradeep,

Its always nice to read your blog.I liked your suggestion of burning all redundant documents( test plans etc..)And you are right that my PM doesnt check every minute or day activity with test plan.
I am going through the RST materials and as you suggested will mail you if i need your help.thanks in advance for that.
Pradeep we all have read many times in websites or articles that testers should be Jack of all trades..But seriously do you consider few neccesary scripting languages or mastering few tools that really helps what ever the environment variables.I have read somewhere in James Bach or Cem Kamer site that knowing perl really helps..Share some thoughts on it