Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Top Testers - are there common traits?

I know there are common traits among top testers... because I can relate to them and I can pick them out really really fast. They stick out like a sore thumb among the rest of the testers. Funny thing is that it does not matter what type of product... top tester are always top testers.

Here is a list of non obvious traits. (I know I have used Non-Obvious alot so far in my blogs, but i feel like i am writing stuff that other people don't write... and i am not sure why that is?)

Highly Competitive
Top testers are extremely competitive. They want to be the best. They produce more by large margins compared to everyone else. There is no shade of grey. They don't just dominate the bug count, they dominate at everything. They write the most automation, they write the best test cases and the most complete test suites, they write the best most complete test plans (test design specifications). If average tester produces X, the top tester will produce 1000 times more and faster (with higher quality).

I have to admit, I was(and still am) like this. But the top testers I met over the years, are always trying to grow other testers to be mini-me's. They would love if everyone tried their best. Its alot more fun when you have closer competition. :) Plus they can feed off each other. Its amazing what happens when one top tester feels threatened by another top tester... both tester productivity goes through the roof!!! BUT its not talked about, and they totally work well together because there is a mutual respect and they both have the same goal of shipping a high quality product. BUT in secret deep down, they will work longer and harder, just to be one bug ahead of the other tester.

Extreme Ownership
Top testers treat their product as their baby. Notice I said 'product'. They take a sense of ownership of ensuring every thing is covered. Typically testers just test their area, and then they are done, they don't care if the rest of the product sucks... all they know is they are done. Top testers, branch out, they reach very deep and very wide. Its like they are creating vines that grow and branch out touching every part of the product. Eventually the top testers will know the state of every feature, they are the walking bug database. When they see a bug, they know without looking at the code, what is causing the bug.

Always Analyzing
Top testers are always analyzing the product... when i say always... i mean... when they go home their minds are still trying to break the product mentally. When they go to sleep they are still trying to break the product. By morning, they have a whole new set of idea's they want to try to break the product.

Breaking the Product
All top tester try to break the product all the time. It can look like it comes easy since they can find so many bugs quickly. The key is every test case they try, it is always to break the product. "what happens if I try this, in combination with this... can i break it?". Notice the "what happens if"... that means they are not sure about what the out come will be because they pushed something to the limits, or are combined features in a unique way.

I am trying to think what people that verify say... and I can't think of anything... you know why? because verifying takes no thought process... steps are already outlined for you, result is already defined, the tester just has to execute them. I think when people verify, its like they are watching a tv show but not really watching it... they are just staring at something. Can you tell i hate to verify?... i actually can't do it... it hurts too much... it takes the fun out of the game...

No Assumptions - question everything
This is a huge one. To become a top tester, never assume anything. Never assume the dev is right, never assume feature is implemented they way it was specified in a document, never assume the technology your feature is using works, never assume someone else will test it, never assume a fix by a senior dev is safe, never assume things work.
Since top testers question everything under the sun, they end up finding everything under the sun!

I personally have problems staying on topic when talking... i am always taking tangents. But I am not talking about verbal skills here. Top testers while testing can easily take tangents, they might be testing one area, then notice something odd, and go down a completely different route. They don't test one area 100% and then go to another area. They are all over the place. If you look at their bugs... they will be all across the board. This typically happens once their specific feature set is stable... and then they get to go out and play with the rest of the product... adhoc/exploratory testing. They are very fluid, moving around from one area to another... they see highways between feature sets where typical testers only see walls.

I know there are more... but I can't think of them right now...

1 comment:

  1. I admit it, I love what you're writing!

    Partially because I am, at heart, a competitive tester. It's not my job description, but I'm a "power user" and "technical owner" of some products.... and I call them my babies. Literally, gets me funny looks, but I'm delighted to see someone else shares my mentality!