Beyond Software Testing: The Influential Tester
My journey as a Quality Assurance Tester began a little over 12 years ago as a welcomed promotion from Help Desk support.
Though I lived to help users with their technical needs, I was ready to retire my company pager (dating myself). It always seemed to peep aggressively around the 2 o’clock early morning hour with frustrated users on the other end experiencing handheld connectivity issues or ambiguous database errors. Soon, I would be in my new position, even though I had no idea what was expected. The Quality Assurance position did not come with a detailed description, and I remember thinking I have never seen a “Quality Assurance Tester” Major in College. What exactly do they do? It couldn’t be that hard. In this new very exciting position I was simply told, “break the code before the users get it.”
Gone are the days where Software Quality Assurance Testers are only expected to find a “bug,” record the “bug,” and move on to the next test step. We must showcase our love for research, verbalize risks before development is complete, use our technical ability to uncover what is broken and what lacks functionality, and put forth suggestions that enhance the user’s experience. After realizing my role was the “last stop” before the much-awaited release into the hands of the customer, I knew that I could no longer act as a Quality Assurance robot that failed and passed test cases. I had to reinvent myself to be much more, as I had the power to unearth all that was missed. This includes defects, processes, gaps in communication between departments, and clear requirements. I had to become an Influential Tester, and so my new career as a Consultant began.
Software Quality Assurance Consultants are “influential testers”. Their thought process, diverse technical background, and high aptitude for learning helps them go beyond testing.
During Application Under Test (AUT), the Influential Tester not only compare actual results with expected results, they also assess the inner workings of an organization and team by developing a plan to improve the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Studying the gaps in a team with root cause analysis, the influential tester seeks ways to elevate a team by improving the time to market, suggesting an improved iterative approach to software development, implementing white box or black box testing, and requirement assessments. In such a fast-moving market, an organization needs a team member that is adaptable, open to changing roles, not afraid to ask the hard questions, and possess the ability to not only find “bugs” but prevent them.
A Quality Assurance tester performing as an Influential tester has such depth and cannot be easily defined. To successfully exemplify that role, one must not only perform the tasks “given” but become what is needed for optimum results in an organization.