My current project is quite busy right now for me. I’m on my forth week of overtime, and despite being prepared for the crunch, I’m becoming a bit weary. Therefore, I’m taking a break to share with you a few things I’ve learned recently about testing as a consultant. I’ve heard many testers explain what is and is not in the scope of their “job” as a tester. Strict statements, such as “It is my job to provide information, but I don’t assure quality.” or “I make recommendations, not decisions.” One of my favorites, heard recently, was “You are a consultant. You provide suggestions. It could harm your longevity with the client if you forget that!” Wow. There are some strong feelings out there about what boundaries we testers must stay within. Being a tester, exploring boundaries is quite natural for me. In fact, if I never check them, I could be guilty of self-limiting behavior, which is worse than testing boundaries to me.
I see my role as a consultant to provide what is needed for the project to succeed. Sometimes that is testing information. It certainly includes a solid testing strategy that adapts as the context changes, and it does include testing that is improving over time. On this project, I’ve created a new section to test plans that my boss plans to use for future test plans, I’ve started creating draft read-mes and delivering those along with some documents to help users to the tech support team which supports our product (along with dozens of other products), I’m doing the planning and documentation for UAT, and have done research to inform the deployment plan for the project. None of these things are traditionally testing tasks. I feel fantastic about this! Teams are smaller. The teams I want to be on should hire a flexible person who will grow over time. I want to keep learning skills. I also want to work with Developers who do what is needed. You need a diagram on how X works with Y? They will draw one on the white board to use for now, and possibly revise it later, but they don’t wait for the planets all to align and a new analyst to be trained just to stay within their job description. This is part of the freedom of being a team member, and not just a role or list of skills. While not all of the tasks we do fit into “testing” strictly, I’m a consultant. That frees me up to do what is needed, which is not always testing.