…..(who are you? who, who, who, who?)

Inspired by the TestBash Brighton 2017 talk ‘Rediscovering Test Strategy’ by Mike Talks, this is my retrospective on me when I started as a tester in 2004 and today, in 2017.


I’ve tried to break it down into nine questions:

  1. How do you describe your job to your friends and family?
  2. What do others think that you do?
  3. What’s your motivation at work?
  4. Do you want to be a professional tester? Do your peers?
  5. What heuristics do you use?
  6. What are the objectives of your job?
  7. What is the perception of your role from other disciplines within your organisation?
  8. Do you work in Waterfall? Agile? DevOps?
  9. What does your kit/setup look like?

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Me at Leeds Festival 2004.

  1. I am a games tester.
  2. An extension of Uni, frat-party-esque, bean bags et al.
  3. This is a summer job, while I’m at Uni. It’s better than working in retail. Plus, I get my name on the credits of some games (at this point, I hadn’t worked on any games that I would consider embarrassing).
  4. I have no concept of testing as a profession. I view it as a stop-gap, before I get a ‘proper’ post-grad job. Most of my colleagues view this as getting a foot inside the game development industry with the aim to work in other departments – audio, production, design, art, programming etc.
  5. I don’t know what heuristics are, but we use excel ticksheets for test coverage, we raise, track and verify bugs.
  6. It feels like we are judged based on bug count or verification count, alone. Other objectives might be to make nice with the team leader to get better tasks assigned to me.
  7. Testing feels like it is the bottom rung, that no one wants to be a tester, no respect for the discipline, communication with the dev team is strictly by the seniors/team leads, your only communication with devs is via bug comments.
  8. This is waterfall, test gets the code late on (backs against the wall) and it is near-guaranteed that there will be so much overtime (my record was 120 hours overtime in one month).
  9. Unless you are the chosen one, small CRT monitor with a team digital camera (or if you were lucky, a VCR). Intranet-access-only machines for email and bug tracking. Headphones (in various states of repair) that must be worn at all times.

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2017 Me stuck in a tree. There’s a metaphor there, I’m sure.

  1. I am a software tester (that’s not my job title, but it is what I am). When talking about my job, I concentrate on what the product is that I test – only concentrating on practices/heuristics if they are in on the whole SDLC fun.
  2. Anything ranging from IT, websites (whatever that means), to test robot. Hopefully this blog may shed some light on things.
  3. My goals are clear, I aim to:
    1. Improve the product that I work on.
    2. Improve myself.
    3. Be a positive influence on those around me, and if called for a mentor, or coach.
    4. Be an advocate for quality and a loud voice for test.
  4. Absolutely.
    1. This is my career of choice (regardless of how it started). I don’t desire to be a developer, or a project manager. This is not a path to something else. This is who I am.
    2. I hope my peers aim to be (and stay) professional testers (see Huib Schoot’s blog – “Heuristics for Recognizing Professional Testers). Since starting in my current role, I have tried to introduce them to the wider testing community, I have started this blog, sent them interesting blogs to read, shared talks, encouraged them to attend conferences, bought TestSphere, talked more about testing as a craft, attempted to empower and encourage them.
  5. Yes please to all heuristics, sure experience may lead me to try some old favourites, but variety is the spice of life and new heuristics, approaches and charters will hopefully lead to a better tested product.
  6. Better:
    1. Product.
    2. Practices.
    3. Communication.
    4. Cross-discipline interaction.
    5. Us.
    6. Me.
  7. When I started my current role, I wanted to find out what the wider perception of my team was, so I sent out a questionnaire to the development dept. to find out. From that, I saw that there was real value seen in my team, what a great platform on which to build!
  8. We work in an Agile environment, developers and testers in happy harmony.
  9. We have whatever we need, there is no kit empire building, it is no issue.

I must say that when I left the games industry in 2011, my experiences and perception of testing in that environment had changed from my initial stint. But, I still wanted to do something else……that was software testing outside of gaming, and it has been the best career path I could have taken.

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