Few weeks ago I asked on my LinkedIn group members whether testing was a skill. I was not sure that it will actually stir a storm within the community. A simple question seemed to have hit a nerve in the testing community and I received many comments from fellow testers. In actual fact, the question was asked by someone who I respect, is running a massive Avionics programme which is nearly USD 100 million and was not expected to make this kind of comment.
Well, I responded to him jokingly because he commented jokingly. My response was simple, “get people off the street, ask them to test apps on ground and on the aircraft and see yourself successfully deliver the program. Will ya?”. Anyways, even though I responded jokingly, it did hit some nerve within. I don’t really expect this kind of naive comments from people that senior.
I have collected all those comments from fellow testers from LinkedIn. It is a nice read, indeed.
The topic of discussion was:
I was a little disgruntled when someone told me today that testing is not a skill and that anyone can do it. Since most of the members of this group are either testers, test managers or even directors; what is your view on it? Is testing a skill or not? In my opinion, testing is a skill. If someone says it is not, that implies that he is living in past, at least 30 years behind.
1. I believe he’s not 30 years behind. He is living in stone ages.
2. Believe me there are skillful testers and there are definately testers out there who pretend to be skillful…feeding off of others in the group until they finally are found out that they really are not meant to test at all. Definately a skill!
Me: @Kathy, I am sure you are speaking of experience. I have that experience personally where those skillful pretenders feed off of others. Unfortunately they do not get exposed all the time. Definitely a skill to pretend to be a skillful tester.
On the other hand, there are genuinely skilled testers who think about what is right to test and test it right. It is indeed a small proportion of the whole testing community. In another group I mentioned that skill comes from experience, training and education. There are barely any schools which provide testing education. Very few testers try to update/upgrade their skills and there are experienced testers who do not update their skills at all.
I posted this discussion to many groups and all seem to agree that testing is a skill. The problem is, it is hard to find.
3. •Testing is definitely a skill. Apart from the technical skills, there is also a requirement of certain human characteristics/qualities that make a successful & effective test professional. I would not hesitate to say that not everybody or anybody can become tester! Earlier, testing was considered as an art. Now, gradually it is evolving into science & engineering with methodologies, process, methods, techniques and tools coming into testing arena.There are institutes that provide education on software testing exclusively.
Me: @Keshava – I agree with your note regarding certain human characteristics of a successful tester. Testing is still an art, a craft and a definite scientific process. I still recommend a classic book ‘The art of Software Testing’ written by G.Myers. This book has influenced critical thinking of many of us software testers.
I believe there are software testing training institutes, but I am not sure how effective they are. My concern regarding software testing has been authentic college education of this field.
4. • That’s a very simple question which realy hard to answer without getting to know – who is asking this question.
As everyone here is from testing background and we need to prove to ourselves that Testing is Skill.
First of all , I want to focus on word ‘Skill’ which will help to explain, why testing is skill.
A skill is the learned capacity to carry out pre-determined results often with the minimum outlay of time, energy, or both. Skills can often be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. For example, in the domain of work, some general skills would include time management, teamwork and leadership, self motivation and others, whereas domain-specific skills would be useful only for a certain job. Skill usually requires certain environmental stimuli and situations to assess the level of skill being shown and used.
If you carefully go through the definition, you see where i want to drive You. Testing is skill if you can –
> Measure product quality in quanative terms. Irrespective of knowing
that Product is defect free or not.
> Draw a visible line in product quality before testing and after.
> Add you domain knowledge as catalsyt which always help to minimize the
unexpected behaviour and improve the trust among stakeholders for testing
and their knowledge.
> involve yourself from scratch in SDLC and your knowedge/experties (Domain)
helps team to design/develop a robust/user friendly system.
To design a skill set for testers depends on the areas where you are working and it is very procedural. Please add your comment based on your respective areas which will help everyone to know and improve.
5. You could invert the question and ask what lack of skill leads to poor test capability?
It is also natural to define objectives in terms of our own knowledge base and skills (because that is what we know). But often systems have different aspects depending on who is looking at it, and so you usually need to use a broader audience.
I think this applies to test teams and plans as well as other topics (such as requirements gathering) to ensure that you have skills in a team that ensure that all aspects of the system can be covered.
6. You can respond by saying that programming is not a skill and that anyone can do. It’s equally true.
7. • Well, any parent of a teenager could tell you that testing is a skill that they all have. 🙂
• True. But I would not say “outsiders” only. It becomes generic and dilutes the understanding. In your case, it was a business leader. So we should ideally understand the roles and depth of understanding each of them need to develop for themselves.