Tag Archives: culture

Talking about Record and Playback at the Birmingham Test Meetup – What I Read Last Week (21st July 2019)

This week I attended the Birmingham #MidsTest meetup, where I presented my talk “The Joy of Record and Playback in Test Automation” for the first time. I am due to give this same talk at TestBash Manchester and Test Con Europe, both in October this year.

I was great to be able to give this talk before these conferences. I can practice and read through each slide as much as possible, but it is nothing like presenting in front of actual people. I was able to highlight a few areas where things did and didn’t work. This allows me to make some improvements before I next give this talk.

I also gave another 99 second talks – I love these. This time I talked about the importance of communicating with developers to help with testing efforts. I’ll write this up into a blog post at some point next week.

Future Events

Personas – Power Hour
Ministry of testing are hosting another power hour on The Club, this time about Personas. If you have any questions, post them by 7pm on 24th July (British Summer Time).

Social Media Discussions

Smoke Testing vs Sanity Testing
I was asked my opinion on a LinkedIn discussion which I was more than happy to share. It was regarding the use of smoke and sanity testing. Smoke testing is where we test the key features in an application, but only do basic checks. Sanity testing is where only a specific feature is tested, but we go a lot deeper into checking that the feature works exactly as expected. I prefer to do sanity testing when a change has been made to the application, and smoke testing every 2 – 4 weeks depending on how much the system has changed. What are your thoughts?
Thanks to Bharath Selvam for bringing this post to my attention.

Excuses, Blame and Fear
I started a discussion on The Club a couple of months ago on testing excuses and if they are evidence of testing incompetence, negative workplace culture, or something else. A few people have added some interesting responses to the discussion in the last week.

Difference Between Static and Dynamic Testing?
Never be afraid to ask a question. The Club is a great place to ask for help and clarify someone you fully know or understand. Here, someone asks a question of the different between static and dynamic testing. Do you know?

Testability – Power Hour
This event took place the week before last, and had some interesting responses. Testability is a subject that has really interested me in the last few months. Questions I posts included one on testability for manual and automated testing, what we should ask for when asking for improvements on Testability, and what to do when something cannot be controlled or observed via the UI.

Articles and Blog posts

Maybe You Don’t Need a Date Picker – Adrian Roselli
Picking a date can be a complex and tedious process, especially on smaller mobile devices. Surely having to scroll through seemingly endless lists isn’t the best way?

Two Rules That Make You Look Smart When You Ask Questions – Dan Rockwell – Leadership Freak
There is no such thing as a stupid question, but there is such a thing as asking a question in a stupid way.

What to say in a standup – One Man – The life of one man
What is a standup and what do we need to say? Who needs to attend?

Other blogs that share lists of test related articles

https://5blogs.wordpress.com/ (daily)
http://blog.testingcurator.com/ (weekly)
http://thatsabug.com/ (weekly)
https://weapontester.com/tea-time (weekly)
https://www.ministryoftesting.com/feeds/blogs

Testing Conferences
https://testingconferences.org/

The Club
https://club.ministryoftesting.com/
A forum for discussing, asking questions, answering questions, and requesting help. Run by the Ministry of Testing.

Feel free to recommend anything that you think is of interest.
Main image taken from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

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Testing Culture – Excuses, Blame and Fear

I came across an interesting article which discussed common excuses that testers make:
http://thethinkingtester.blogspot.com/2019/05/seven-excuses-software-testers-need-to.html

There were 3 which I found particularly worrying:

  • The other tester on my team missed the bug
  • If I log the bug I found in production, I’ll be asked why I didn’t find it sooner.
  • There wasn’t enough time to test

If a tester needs to use these excuses, then the issue might not be with testing but with the company culture.

A company culture where colleagues are encouraged to make excuses, attempt to shift the blame on someone else, or instil enough fear so someone is afraid to report something critical is not a good one.

“There wasn’t enough time to test”

This particular excuse will always exist and it is a valid one. There will be strict release deadlines which can’t always be pushed back. When the software has to be released, it has to be released. The tester has very little control over this. However, it doesn’t mean that the tester is entirely blameless if a critical bug makes its way to live.

It is the testers responsibility to ensure that the tests are optimised and prioritised. Tests covering the most essential features should be run first. Tests should also be optimised so that they are run as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Occasionally, the tester may be in the unfortunate situation where there isn’t enough time to test even the most essential features. It is also the testers responsibility to communicate what the overall test coverage it to those making the decision to release. They need to be aware what was tested and what wasn’t tested. This allows them to make an informed decision about if the software can be released or not.

Provided the tester prioritised and optimised their tests, and accurately communicated what was and was not tested, they can hold their head high. They tested everything to the best of their ability with the resources they were given.

“The other tester on my team missed the bug.”

With the increasing complexity of software applications, it is likely that not all members of the team will have been involved in testing every single aspect. However, is it really worth blaming the sole tester who was testing that particular feature?

Instead of blaming a single tester, we should look at the overall testing process. If there was only 1 tester validating this particular feature, maybe assigning additional testers to each feature can prevent bugs slipping through the net.

We may also want to look at how the feature was tested. If the tests were conducted using manual or automated test cases, was this particular scenario covered? If not, then the test case should be reviewed and the test coverage assessed. It may even be worth including some exploratory testing so additional unscripted scenarios are covered.

It should be recognised that we are part of a wider team and we should all be working together to improve the quality of software applications. When a bug makes it through the cracks we must remember that testers are human. They are bound to miss things out. It is not possible to investigate every possible decision that could be made when using the software.

“If I log the bug I found in production, I’ll be asked why I didn’t find it sooner.”

First of all, the person blaming the tester needs to realise that it is better that the bug was found sooner rather than later. It will be much worse if a customer finds and reports the bug.

Second, when a defect is found in production, it still needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Reducing the impact of that bug for the customer should be top priority. When a fix has been released, we can start investigating what went wrong. However, the purpose of the investigation should not be to find out who to blame but to prevent a similar situation happening again.

Finally, if there are employees terrified enough not to report critical issues, then what else are they holding back on? Employees will work much better if they are not afraid of management. Honesty should be encouraged so any mistakes can be rectified sooner rather than later. Otherwise, it will be worse for the business.

I will repeat what I said earlier, testers are human. A few bugs are likely to make it through the cracks. Software is becoming increasingly complex, there are just too many ways for the software to go wrong.

Final point…

There is a TV series that is shown in various countries – The Apprentice. It involved a several candidates who are applying for a highly paid job or money to invest in a business. The candidates are split into teams and are given a business related task. The team that makes the most money from that task wins the round, and 1 person from the other team is fired. The firing process involves the candidates being interrogated in a board room. The candidates are encouraged to blame others for the failure, and defend their own actions. One person is eventually fired.

Personally, I hate this show. It promotes a toxic culture of fear and blame. What does this actually achieve? Isn’t it better to focus on learning from the mistakes, preventing them from being made in the future and improving the process?

If the tester is forced to use any of these excuses, then it might indicate an issue with the overall company culture, not the tester.

Main image taken from publicdomainpictures.net