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Exploratory Testing sucks: A Tale of a Thinking Tester (The Pragmatic Testing)

On July 13, 2013, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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Heard this story few days back from one of the guys in my testing circuit. I found it funny and at the same time a sad story too. Funny, because humans have this tendency to laugh at idiotic stuff. Sad, because it’s a shame that our profession still has so much to improve upon.
(For the sake of confidentiality, I have changed the context and any reference to real people. But in my experience, it’s not difficult to trace or identify idiots. The generic disclaimer is that all characters in this story are fake and any resemblance to any person, place, animal, dead, alive or zombie, is purely coincidental. Well, you know what I mean…many of us will surely & easily associate this story with one of their own coworkers). 
 
Anyways, the story goes like this. A team of testers was working on a project. They had a project schedule, and they also had testing scope and test plans defined by their test lead. Unfortunately, the test lead was not the most talented person on the face of this earth. His knowledge of testing was questionable and his people management skills were worst than even a rabbit. Many said that this test lead had a small brain which made his critical thinking ability critically limited. He was one of those who failed the Turing test.
 
The rumor had it that the lead had strong political connections which made it impossible to remove him from the position. He also had this uncanny capability to define testing in a whole new way which no one understood.

One of the testers in this test lead’s team was a thinking tester. Sounds like an irony, but that’s true. Thinking testers are rare, but they can be found anywhere. There was a time when world governments were worried that this thinking tester specie is moving towards extinction, but few strong leaders of this species turn the story around and thinking testers are not extinct anymore. They are still rare, though.

So, This thinking tester started finding defects. He had targets, like how many test cases to complete and in how many days etc. Since he was a smart tester, he completed the scripts on time, found defects and reported them using his smart bug reports. The Test Lead was happy. His team completed test execution as per project plan, did not find many defects and had all matrices ready with relevant test case pass, fail, not executed and test coverage data as well as defect summary. He thought that now he could prove to management that the software works, has good quality and is ready to ship. He was also glad that his testers ran test cases within the time limit defined by the project manager for each test cases. He was doing a great job, he thought.

But then, the thinking tester was thinking. He had completed his scripted testing on time and he had some more time on his hands. Why not run few more tests during this free time, he thought! He knew the program now, he had understanding of the logic, as well as he understood the technical architecture after working for so long on this project. He started using his knowledge, skill and learning from this project to explore bugs which may have fallen through the cracks. And he found a high severity bug that could have proven fatal to the project.

The thinking tester was ecstatic on his discovery and decided to share this exploration with his team lead so that project team can be made aware of this issue. The Test Lead got really annoyed when he heard about this bug. How could you do that? He asked the Thinking tester. Poor tester said that he used his exploratory testing skills to find the bug because he was sure previously written scripts were not robust enough to find bugs.

The Test Lead knew that Exploratory testing should be done by the end users & the product owners as they are the right people to do ad-hoc testing. He was upset that what should be done by users, the thinking tester did and wasted his time doing a useless activity such as finding bugs, which had direct impact on the project schedule. He requested the manager to remove the thinking tester from his team because of his inefficiencies.

Finally, the thinking tester moved jobs and proved to be a successful manager. The Test Lead is struggling to keep his job and still plays politics. He continues to believe that exploratory testing sucks!

Moral of the story: If you are a thinking tester, you will still find a better job. Do not let fly-brain people undermine your abilities. I do not need to tell you that the test lead got testing absolutely wrong.

Attention: This post uses heavy sarcasm. If you cannot distinguish that, this post is not for you. You may consider reading ‘Perfect Software’ written by Gerry Weinberg.

 

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