Pradeep Soundararajan

Organisation – Moolya

Role/Designation – Founder & Managing Director

Location – Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Pradeep Soundararajan is a tester turned independent consultant turned businessman. He founded Moolya that caters to software testing needs of customers worldwide. Pradeep helps Moolya to grow to a company that shall be admired. Pradeep has a flair of writing and presenting that many thousand testers across the globe like. He is an invited speaker and author worldwide. His blog Tester Tested is a favourite of so many testers. He coaches, consults and tests. Give him a testing problem and he will show you that you already know the answer to it but you don’t seem to solving it. Pradeep works with some of the coolest testers in India at Moolya.

1. How did you become a software tester?

I think there are different stages of “becoming” a software tester. The most common is by designation. I did “become” a software tester by designation when I got my first job. However, I think, I “became” a software tester when I started to love testing. It didn’t take much time for me to fall in love with it.

It is interesting to note that in the first week of my first job as a tester, I hardly found any bugs. A senior tester advised me to reconsider if I wanted to continue as a tester as he saw there was no way I could do something good in this field. I was one week old baby into testing and I cried hearing that.

Suddenly I felt I am an adult, stopped crying, went back to my desk, chucked the test cases and started running the tests that comes to my mind. I found so many bugs that I was allowed to handle testing without needing any supervision.

Today, I run my own software testing services company and when I look back, it all appears as an amazing flash back. Thanks for asking me this question that reminded me of the story.

If your question had been “How did you become a good tester?” I would have had a different answer

2. Well, how did you become a good software tester?

I am “becoming” a good tester not “become”. As I make one bit progress, some tester in some part of the world does something different, creative and fantastic work that makes my one bit progress to appear like a 0.1 bit progress. For instance, Santhosh Tuppad digged into a lot of browser add-ons that I could use for my testing when I was thinking, “Oh, I could test web apps in a real cool way”. There are people like James & Michael who constantly make progress and introduce new things and make me expand my syllabus of testing. So being a good tester is never a past tense, it is a present tense.

3. You are the co-founder of Moolya. How different is Moolya from other testing companies in India?

I would like to tell the readers of this interview, before I answer this question that you had actually asked me more than two questions about Moolya and I asked you to reduce this to one because this is not a marketing for Moolya but my interview. Without going to finer details, I can tell you that Moolya is doing things differently. The way we recruit testers, the way we treat them, the way we test and the value we add is all different from what every other organization appears to deliver. Isn’t it amazing that every organization says the same as we say? So, let me make it simple. We test the way that engages our brain and hence our clients get maximum value. We care for users because we know how much we are affected by stupid software like that of

4. You have always been vocal about bad testing practices in India. How much do you think you have been able to change the testing mind set in India?

I didn’t change any tester in India, they changed themselves. I contributed to it by changing myself. Two big problems that prevent a lot of Indian testers to change themselves for good is

a) They are too bloody afraid of losing their jobs

b) Their fear is inversely proportional to the skills they have

5. We know you had once been fired from an organization. What was the reason (if you would like to share) and what lesson did you learn from that incident?

I love telling the world that I was fired. I was hired as a tester and was asked not to find bugs because I was finding a lot of them. As I was finding a lot of bugs, the company I worked for couldn’t achieve Six Sigma of their product. Their goal wasn’t finding bugs but to achieve Six Sigma. I guess Cem Kaner called it “Sick Sigma”. The only way they could release the product is to fire me and tell the tester hired in place of me to pass the test cases. You know what a guy who fears losing his job would have done – all test cases pass. I am not talking about a small organization, it was a huge one. What happened to the company doing such releases? The entire Bangalore division that I was working for got closed.  About 450 people lost their jobs. Hurrah! They got the taste of the bugs I reported and it was very bitter. The only difference, they all got a severance pay but I didn’t.

6. If you were to start a certification exam in testing, what all parameters will you consider to declare a candidate “Pradeep Certified Tester”?

I would never do that. Also, nobody needs that. They just need to set a very high quality of work for themselves and try attaining it each time. There can only be one person in this world who is “Pradeep certified tester” and that is – Pradeep himself.

7. How has the transition from testing to entrepreneurship been to you?

Talking about transition – there are quite a few new things I learnt. I now know better about how business owners make decisions under various contexts. This helps me learn how to teach testers to interact with business owners and make each other’s time useful. I have solved the chicken egg problem. To get a project, we need a team and to need a team we need money and to need money we need project. What comes first? I know the answer to it today. While I was an independent consultant, I had learnt most of what is required to run a business except that of having to deal with government agencies often. Let me tell you this, being a tester, the most frustrating part is to deal with government websites. If I meet the ones who built it, I want to hold a gun on their head and ask them how they feel? Also tell them that is how I feel using the website they built. I tried giving feedback in the feedback section and the feedback section had a bug in it that prevents from feedback being sent. In Moolya, I play the role of business owner, decision maker, consultant, coach, tester, jester and janitor (at times). Enjoy each one of them. We have won 10+ customers so far and that’s awesome for us. Most importantly, people who have approached us are the ones serious about getting good testing done. So, winning customers who value value is value to the the company whose name means value.

8. What are the hiring challenges that you have faced and facing?

Hiring is a challenge. Fortunately, we have been able to attract some very good testers into our organization. That’s why we have repeat business from all customers we have. For potential projects that are coming in, we are finding it hard. Not because we don’t know to hire but getting people who match our testing DNA is of prime importance. If we were to behave like a typical services company, we would say, “everyone’s invited” but we are being choosy. Last weekend, we interviewed about 80 testers to find one good tester who is really passionate about testing.Most candidates have unrealistic expectations when they are jumping from one organization to the other. Someone getting 1 lac pa is demanding 5 lacs pa with 1 year of so called experience. OMG! Help me. Help me. They are just ruining good opportunities for themselves. Amen.

9. Where do you see Software Testing in next five years/ten years?

Being a student of Michael Bolton, I mostly repeat what he says because I am a trained parrot 😛 (get the joke?) The answer to the question you asked, “I don’t predict future” but I know what the future of testing depends on. It depends on people like you and me who are willing to sacrifice a lot of things just to become good at testing. It depends on what we leave behind to our juniors who are hoping their seniors don’t leave a huge pile of crap for them to clean and spend their entire life.

10. Name five testers from India and five testers from the world who had been able to impress you (No names from Moolya allowed).

It is very hard to choose five because there are a quite a number of testers whose work and thoughts have impressed me. If I were to answer this as rapid fire, it would be Ola Hylten (the why test guy), Andy Glover (the cartoon tester), Rikard Edgren (the potato tester and author of the awesome e-book Little Black Book of Test Design),  Perze Ababa (a great test manager to work with), Oliver V (the Estonian tester turned entrepreneur), Rahul Verma (the high energy testing perspective guy), Matt Brandt (the one who has an inspiring story to tell about his entry to testing), Sathish Kumar Chinappa (Cognizant must be blessed to have him).

11. What testing lessons did you learn from your spouse?

I learnt that I shouldn’t think or speak about testing with her. The only time I did it was prior to marriage and it ended up in disappointment for both. Ever since I haven’t spoke about it and we both love each other a lot.

12. Complete this sentence – “I use twitter because -”

I use twitter because people don’t charge me for testing my ideas.

13. Last question – Do you read Testing Circus? If yes, what is your opinion about this magazine?

I have been reading Testing Circus ever since its first issue. I have loved the way it has grown and want to see it grow better and bigger. Kumar SinghaInterview with TestersInterview with TestersPradeep Soundararajan Organisation – Moolya Role/Designation – Founder & Managing Director Location – Bangalore, Karnataka, India Pradeep Soundararajan is a tester turned independent consultant turned businessman. He founded Moolya that caters to software testing needs of customers worldwide. Pradeep helps Moolya to grow to a company that shall be admired. Pradeep has...
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Ajoy Kumar Singha

Ajoy is the founder and editor of Testing Circus magazine which is read and subscribed by thousands of professional testers around the world. He is associated with various testing forums such as NCR Testers Monthly Meet as a founding member. Follow Ajoy on Twitter.