18 August, 2009

An Ignorant Tester’s Story

Once upon a time, there was an ignorant tester who followed test scripts(written by someone else) while testing a product. This tester ran tests over tests, updated the test case status to Pass/Fail/Blocked/Not Executed and this went on. At the end of 27 months, the tester got bored because not only did this tester execute test scripts written by others, but the tester never wrote the test cases for any of the new products( Now that is what a Test Lead is meant to do in most companies right?). This tester moved on to another job which required a different skillset. The tester got excited and started learning new things at the new job. At the end of 27 months, yet again the tester got bored because this tester executed test scripts written by others. Apart from learning the new technologies, new products and processes, there was nothing worthwhile that there was to learn in the 2nd job as well. So the tester wanted to move on yet another time.

Its time to prepare for the interviews and the search for readymade test cases in Google. Test cases to test an ATM, test cases to test a marker pen, test cases to test a chair etc. Google for it and you get it! Now, this tester never used the ‘Best Tool in the World – the BRAIN’ and instead opted for Google (Google can be a spoilsport at times! I do not blame it though). Google ‘Test Cases for ATM ‘. Wow. Hundreds of results. The tester thought there is no way to get rejected in the interview if this material is referred to. This tester then goes to one particular link that contains test cases for testing a Notepad and starts reading it. End Result - this tester was Re-born. ‘Why didn’t I use my own brain all this while? Why did I depend on someone else’s test cases? Why did I wait for someone else’s ideas to test? Why Why Why?’ These questions haunted the tester for a long time after that. The next five days just passed by in digesting every little word that was written on http://testertested.blogspot.com/ and http://shrinik.blogspot.com/. Was the tester Enlightened? May be. May be not.

Who was this ignorant tester? I do not want to tell you that this Ignorant tester was a friend of mine or a friends’ friend. I want to tell you that this ignorant tester was ME and this is MY story! I started off as a hard core scripted tester who was dedicated to testing day in and day out running about 5000 test cases for every release! How did I feel at the end of 5 releases in 27 months? Emptyness and Boredom. I did learn a lot of tricks in the trade, the functional knowledge, the technologies, a few scripting languages(for the little API testing that I did) etc etc. Great, Then, why did I get bored? I think that scripted testing is highly automated compared to any other automation done while testing. Open the script, read the test case, execute the test case, record the result as pass/fail/blocked/not executed, move on to the next script and keep doing this until you realize that you did not get promoted though u executed 4000 test cases compared to the guy who got promoted by executing just 2000 testcases! And then start looking for another fancy job which you think might not bore you after 27 months.

Can you sense the idea of getting bored every 2-3 years and start looking for a new job. Can you think about making this shift every two years? What do you gain? What do you lose? Can you dare to answer these questions by ignoring the money part for a while? Can you answer these questions by considering the money it brings along? Are you bored at your current job? Were you bored the same way in your last job? Can you answer these questions to yourself if not others?

P.S: All said and done, I think that searching for ‘Test Cases for testing a Notepad’ has been the greatest mistake of my life which in turn became the greatest learning in my life. It does help at times to be ignorant, but that should not go on for long or else it gets dangerous and/or dirty! This post could appear to be an attack on scripted testers, but it is not. It is an attack on the traditional processes we have been following without asking ‘WHY’. This one question can change your life. Ask ‘WHY’ for your own Good.

Happy Questioning,
Parimala Shankaraiah,