"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, December 10, 2007

Ants solve problems that testers struggle to!

Ants can go into corners of tables and chair, which we humans might not be able to.
Ants can travel to any country without a passport or Visa (if they manage to slip into someone's baggage).
Ants can live anywhere and yet not pay rent or property tax.
Ants can eat junk food forever and live happily.

Doesn't all of them sound so obvious?

So, here is something that might not be so obvious about ants... Little creatures that we commonly refer to as ants have solved a problem that many testers today struggle to.

Have you heard a tester say, "I haven't tested this before / this is too complex / I don't know how to start testing it".

The important thing to note is that we might have heard it from our own mouth or heart and sometimes from others, too.

Here are some experiments that I did with ants to see how they respond to complexity:

Experiment 1

I took an ounce of sugar, placed it near a colony of ants and observed what happened to the sugar I placed after a while.

My experiment resulted in each ant carrying a crystal of sugar and moved them to their nest. Sugar is all gone!

Experiment 2

I placed a cake of size approximately 1000 times bigger than an ant in the same place and observed what happened to the cake.

This experiment resulted in each ant breaking the huge cake into smaller fragments and moved it to their nest bit by bit. Cake is all gone!

Experiment 3

I put a piece of solidified sugar candy near the same colony, which was hard to break for an ant.

This experiment resulted in ants trying to break the candy to smaller segments, but probably the smart ants realized it to be complex than their earlier two assignments I gave them and then they all co-ordinated together and carried the candy to their nest. Candy is all gone!

I bet I could place a mammoth of food for them and they, without bothering about the complexity of it, would try moving it to their nest or create more nests and colonies to accomodate it or work a strategy to get it to their nest or much it as much as they can till the mammoth lies there...

Ben Simo, a wonderful tester you might already know, recently wrote a post titled Solving Intractable Problems and ended it beautifully by saying, "Start with what you recognize" - which I now think is what ants do instead of saying, "That food(work) is not for us, it is for bigger (skilled) ants"

After having done these experiments I was ashamed of my behavior of hesitating to test a product (which I did a couple of years ago) just because something appeared to be too complex or I thought I didn't know about the product or technology.

No, I said, *I* was ashamed and I am not going to ask if you were ashamed because you might have not done that.

After all they are ants and they don't have the super brains we have and lets ignore them folks and continue to live as happy as we are, complaining that things are complex.

Silly ants, they don't even know they are dealing with complexity. I think they should be ashamed of it.

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

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jony Jony, Yes Papa! Following Process, Yes Papa! Telling Lies, Ha ha ha!

I am 100% sure that this article would make no difference to the world because there have been better insightful articles than this about the topic that I have started to write, which didn't make much difference to the part of world I think I am living in.

I feel it is important for you to ask yourself, "Why would I want to read an article that the author is certain that it wouldn't make things around me better?' because by asking that question and continuing reading ensures that you are wasting your time because you chose to.

I conducted my public workshop on December 1st through Edista Testing - a QAI venture in Bangalore on December 1st. A couple of months ago, I had expressed my dream to go around places in India other than Bangalore and conduct my workshop on human skills of testing titled Exercises for a Testers mind - A Rapid Software Testing Approach and the dream is coming true as Edista plans to bring this workshop to your city wherever you are in India. Do not worry about the cost as long as your company can sponsor you for a day.

I challenge testing minds and I learn from them and some of the curious minds who attend the workshop largely benefit from the workshop. All audience are thrilled about the things they learn from the workshop but what makes them sad is that they have to go back and follow the process their company mandates them to follow - which at the end of the workshop they know that it doesn't add as much value as they witnessed the value that Rapid Testing adds.

How do you think they witnessed, the value that Rapid Testing adds V/S the value that their process ( IXX, CXX - Level X, SICK6 SXXXX, XXXXX, Centre of Excellence, Test Factory) adds?

This time I felt terribly challenged at the question of process and I revealed something that shocked the audience and were not willing to pose further challenge. Its exactly an year old secret that was lying in my inbox and I had shared it with very few.

Rapid Testers stand up to scrutiny and so I stand up to scrutiny in case the following information you might read, appears to be an exaggarated or made up to prove a point. It might appear so because those who dwell with those processes can never achieve it and it is close to impossible for one who believes in those to believe the following.

Here is an e-mail that I received last December from my Supervisor from a large Products + Services company of India on the last day of my job at that company.

---- Forwarded by Pradeep Soundararajan on 12/27/2006 04:29 PM -----

All the best, Pradeep.

There are learnings for all of us from the way Pradeep has conducted himself in this tenure in the team. The confidence he has shown and willingness to help others and constantly exploring for new ideas are some of the highlights. Fortunately I was also part of the team which Pradeep was associated.

One more thing I would wish to share with you all is that, he was handling XXXX (product name masked) releases for XXXX (A multi billion dollar customer name masked - who also had a test team at his end who tested the releases we made before they released to their customers ) and with proud I can say that there isn't any bug which customer found apart from what we or Pradeep found here.

On behalf of the team and on a personal note I wish him all the best in all his future endeavour .

XXXXXXXXXXXX ( Supervisor's name masked )

__ end of e-mail excerpt __

Some very important points to think and remember:

  • To remind you, this company too, is one such who believed in the above mentioned process till I helped at least some teams realize that they could achieve bigger success if they could come out of the trap they fell into and add more value to customers. No customer would say - I don't want you to add more value but I am paying you to follow XXXX process. If a customer says that, either the customer needs to be educated on testing or it is a customer who deserve to be off the business list unless the customer is willing to pay a huge price.
  • Some of you might think this post as my self marketing and might fail to learn some important lessons that your customer might want you to learn. Also if I wanted to use the above as my marketing, I wouldn't have waited to reveal it an year later.
  • Some of you might think this happened somewhere too far away from India, which is not true, because this happened in Bangalore, India.
  • Some of you might think I did *complete* testing but I admit that I know no one can completely test anything, so I did not do complete testing.
  • It was no one man Pradeep show, it was a team effort and it was achieved because I practiced the skills that James Bach and Michael Bolton helped me gain on the product I tested with the skills that I already claimed to have + the skills of the team + Exploratory Testing mixed with very little scripted testing.
  • This achievement for the company, the team and me didn't happen because we intended that to happen at the start of the project BUT we had realistic goal as a test team "To find important problems, quickly, and gather as much information as possible through our SKILLS and present them in a useful manner to help the management take informed better decision" AND NO STUPID GOAL SUCH AS "LETS MAKE A BUG FREE PRODUCT".
  • By the customer not finding any bugs other than what we found, although there was a test team at his end, doesn't say that the product was bug free. What customers looked at is value for the money he paid us, and I think he was sure, as the project progressed that he was getting a bonus. At least it helped him understand that he had to hire a better test team than us to find bugs out of what we had found.
  • It is hard for me to know what is the state of the product now but I can safely say that the 8 month duration I stayed there, there was nothing that our customer or ever his customer reported on the releases we made that we didn't know.
  • I'd like to add another important point that in order to achieve what you read above, I and the team had to break certain things that the process mandated to achieve it.
Don't ask your management or customers to read this post because both of them might start to demand more from you, which might take away your coziness you have been enjoying in testing with the process you are asked to follow. In case you are curious to share with them, be prepared to learn and practice human skills of testing and better insight into testing, out of which some of them are taught by James Bach and Michael Bolton's Rapid Software Testing and Cem Kaner and James Bach's BBST courses.

"I would say that a process is the way things happen. The Earth in orbit around the Sun is a process. In that sense, yes Rapid Testing is a process.

What Rapid Testing isn't is a set of instructions to be followed without understanding. It is not a collection of physical behaviors. It isn't even really a set of techniques, although it does feature some of those. To say
it's a skill set and mindset is to locate RST within the mind of a tester. It's a process of making sense of testing problems and reacting to them differently, as the situation demands.
" -- James Bach

"One of the hallmarks of Rapid Testing is that your work can suck less. The pointy-haired bosses can tell you what to do to some degree, but they can't supervise you every minute of every day, and they can't tell you how to think. In the "free" time that you have--those little micromoments of disposable time, for which you won't be punished because they can't watch you every moment--you can perform a quicktest, find a bug, write another line of the test tool you're working on, sneak a look at the specification you managed to photocopy, check in on your mission, befriend a developer, have a chat with another tester about where the bugs might be, cover a product just a little more deeply with just one more test... And after you've leaked a little of what you've discovered and have a few successes under your belt, maybe you can start to train your manager into expecting nuggets like that." -- Michael Bolton

Here is another evidence of high value addition that Rapid Software Testing produced to Michael Bolton's client

Here is one of the great and very insightful quote I have read about achieving the mission, "Who cares if you followed the instructions if it doesn't work when you're done?" -
Scott Barber's Dad

All I have done in this post is to complicate that quote in many words which the wise man said it in one sentence. I apologize for that.

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

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

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Second time, a company in India wants to hire testers in a non traditional way

What is the company looking for?

As a Test Manager of the company, I am looking for 3 testers, each of whom has spent at least 2 to 5 years testing and learning diversified things in testing. I want to challenge the tester in a permanent position in the company I work for, to solve complex software testing problems, whose main focus would be to question testability and supportability of products and write tools to augment testing activity.


The interview would typically be a telephonic followed by one full day at office premises (probably a weekend) in which you would be given a mission or different missions to achieve by the end of the day. You would face questions based on your testing activity at the end of the day.

I am not listing the skills you need to have but I know whether I should call you for an interview or not through:
  1. Write 2-3 pages about your testing experiences so far. If you reveal any confidential information, although you might be too good, I am not taking the risk of calling you for an interview.
  2. You may want to attach your CV or anything you think might interest me to call you.
  3. Fake experiences would be reported to police, so don't risk yourself.
  4. Don't mention, even if you have certification in software testing, because it just doesn't help/ better any chances nor worsens. I intend to hire you for your skills of testing and not your certificate that plenty people found it easy to clear.
If you are a fresher, Test anything over web and send me your report. I might still be interested to foster you.

e-mail me your reports to testwithpradeep@gmail.com

Here are some highlights of working with me:
  1. All testers who report to me have been enjoying freedom, which is very important for testers.
  2. All testers who report to me haven't been asked to do documentation that's wasteful or for the purpose of documenting to follow a process.
  3. All testers who report to me have got a chance to be questioned on their work quality and some have been rewarded once they practice the changes suggested and also see a value in doing those changes.
  4. At least one tester who reports to me started to blog about her testing activity and the thought process that went through to find some bugs ( without revealing the confidential information, of course)
  5. All testers who work with me have had freedom to challenge me (without bothering if I am their Manager or not) or my ideas I propose to test without bothering if that would affect their credibility with me provided they are open to learning and unlearning.
If all above looks tough to you and don't want to put in that much of hard work to get a challenging testing role, Yahoo, my filter works.

Here are some traditional stuff:
  1. Your designation might be a Senior Test Engineer or Test Lead who reports to me (but don't bother too much about that right away).
  2. Your pay is decided by the budget allocated for these positions which is in par with industry standards calculated based on some formulas that I am not aware of. Post observing your performance, your pay is not decided by any formula but solely your performance and the company's performance in market.
  3. You will be required to join ASAP or within 30 days of the date of offer.
  4. The work location would be Bangalore.
  5. The 10 year old US based medium sized company I work for respects and value testing, and post me coming in, I see more recognition towards testing given by the senior management.
  6. There might be some traveling opportunities in Q3 2008 but no guarantee and don't get attracted just because there might be a traveling opportunity.
  7. You may be a tester from any domain as long as you don't have a mental block to learn new domains and technologies.
  8. Send in your entries before others steal your chance.
The good news for those who are excited about this is, I am sure very few people would dare to compete and hence the competition wouldn't be that fierce. So the more excited and curious you are when you read this, the more likely you might be hired.

So, who are those 3 testers among you who would get this unique opportunity that probably other Indian companies might not offer.

It takes courage to challenge and skills to tackle the challenge. I am calling the skilled and courageous to work with me. Get in touch through

For those of you who want to know what traditionally companies ask for, hit MonsterIndia or Naukri websites and search for tester job openings. Not to my knowledge anyone asks for skills of testing from a tester, instead would focus on tools knowledge or horribly trivialize manual testing and process knowledge.

Hey look, at least some part of Indian testing is changing with more focus towards human skills! Are you left behind?

You might want to know, when was the first time a company in India wanted to hire a tester by non traditional ways... Simple, when the company I work for hired Pradeep Soundararajan ( that's me ) as a Test Manager at his age of 26 and helped him become the youngest Test Manager of India.

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

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