Three awesome months for Delspe, my manager. I don’t know if most of you would have realized it, but everyone of my team member pampered Delspe for a long time. They were under the impression that if they pampered him, they’d get a good appraisal. The funny thing is, “they were right.” Most of the folks who pampered delspe in the last quarter got excellent ratings. In spite of the fact that some folks slogged in the last 6 months or 8 months, delspe gave some awesome ratings to the top buttering team members. Let next year come and I think I will follow their path.

It’s been close to 16 months with my organisation; this was my 1st sign of stagnation. Tester Stagnation? Don’t say it too loud, a psychiatrist might pick it up and make a career out of it, offerring to counsel in those areas. Well, 16 months after having been on the same project and life was starting to become boring. The 2nd year is most difficult at the work place; as a fresher, we join expecting the world; and we run into the creature called “Managers”. (Why doesn’t Hollywood make monster movies that have godzillas swallowing managers?)

After having seen the work for close to 16 months, we know what to expect for the next 60 months. After the last 16 months with this company, I was at a stage wherein I had started hating audits, started hating requirement documents, did not like appraisals, detested hikes, and thought most of my management worked on the tenets of “Admit nothing; take no responsibility, but find a scapegoat.” Well, I was right on the part of management tenets… ha ha!

However, when I started getting bored with work, I discovered that these to be the initial signs of tester stagnation. What is that? That’s precisely the stage when I think I know everything that there is in software testing and have not yet discovered what I need to be learning. That is the stage when I think that I am a master of the art of software testing; that is the stage where I’d rate a peer tester as an excellent tester only if he tells me all that I know. And yes, that is the stage when I think I have found out the difference between verification and validation.

Having got the symptoms, I started to try to find a cure for myself; most people in this stage ask for a change of team, or a change of their current role; some of them throw a temper tantrum to get into development or automation. (I have always wondered why test automation engineers are considered more skilled than testers; more on that topic on  another day). Some of them look to go back to complete their MBA’s while a few others try to shift and change job companies. In most of these cases, I realized that even if I take that step, I am only postponing the “stagnation” factor. The stagnation factor would be sure to hit me sometime and it would become a recurring problem.

When I started thinking about a cure, I started to make a list of things that I was not doing right now. I am including the list below.

1) I am not reading any books on software testing. Not that, books are a great source of knowledge since I’d be able to retain only 20% of what’s there, but there are a lot of interesting information that I’d find on books.

2) Go to the open source world and try to test an algorithm; most of the times, we never try to test the algorithm. On a weekly basis, I gave myself a task to test an algorithm in the world. (What is the order of friends listed in your facebook page was one such algorithm).

3) Start thinking of the untested areas in my application; I was constrained by the “requirements document”. I started thinking “out-of-the-document” and realized of the variety of tests that I could conduct, if only I could do away with the requirements document.

4) Does your tool that you are building for the customer solve a business problem? Or does it create a new problem for the customer? Taking a cue from the management talk of needing to look at the “big  picture”, I made a list of projects being done by my company. I created a simple checklist and tried to find out the time saved, or cost saved for the clients. 50% of the time, our projects resulted in additional time spent for the client’s transactions. An account opening operation that took 2 mins, with advanced technology and new layers, took 7 minutes to complete. And we called the new feature launch a “big win”! A big win for us and a loss for the customer!

5) Performance testing (or non-performance testing) – Talk about performance testing and mostly people talk to you about response time for the server, blah blah blah. load time, transaction time, etc, etc. etc. Take the simple case of wanting to book a movie ticket through an online portal; All the portal needs to show you is the movie information, seat information, ticket price and eligible offers. If the portal is asking you to enter your date of birth, your time of birth, your place of birth to book a ticket, then that is such a huge overhead. Like that, I started noting all the additional overhead that comes to mind when working with an application. Without hiring a performance tester, I could analyse my application like a wizard.

6) Removing the tester’s hat – Yes; more often than not, just because I say that I am a tester, I don’t do development; because I say that I am a tester, I don’t look into the competitor’s to look at their features. I removed my tester’s hat and wore the hat of a   product owner. And I saw the critical and most liked features in other products which was not available in our products. That’s when I realized, every now and then, gets rid of the tester hat and wear the hat of the product owner; you will experience a completely different view.

And starting with the above did NOT CURE ME FROM STAGNATION; but I think it put me on the way to get cured from tester stagnation. At least I now know where I am headed. Have a great appraisal season. Feel free to drown your appraisal tears in IPL and I hope to see you on the other side of the appraisal season in next chapter.


Fake Software TesterA Fake Tester's DiaryFake Tester,Fake Tester's DiaryThree awesome months for Delspe, my manager. I don’t know if most of you would have realized it, but everyone of my team member pampered Delspe for a long time. They were under the impression that if they pampered him, they'd get a good appraisal. The funny thing is,...