August 25, 2014

Four Common Types of Mistakes Made by Testers

Like any other job, testing software requires bright, well-trained, and experienced individuals to ensure that a task is completed to the highest standards. But even the best of us screw up sometimes, and certain types of mistakes in testing are more frequent than others.

In this article about the common types of mistakes made by testers, I go over the four categories of mistakes that account for the majority of testing problems that crop up during a project.

1. Not knowing why you’re there.                                                                                                           

Very often, testers find themselves having to juggle a whole lot more than what they signed up for.

Having a clear idea of your responsibilities within the team is a fundamental step to avoid wasting your time on activities beyond your remit, notably quality assurance of the overall product.

The tester’s role is primarily to detect and report bugs that would otherwise interfere in allowing the end-user from getting the outcome s/he desires from a particular function.

Blurring the lines between the tester’s job and that of the developer is a common mistake, particularly in smaller teams.

2. Maintaining poor communication in the team.

A mistake that is related to the above is poor communication with the other professionals on the team.

Whilst working within the boundaries of their competencies, testers should ensure that communication channels between them and their colleagues are open and that there can be a two-way flow of feedback between all the parties involved.

It’s surprising how many problems originate from the lack of a good communication in a team, so testers would do well to play their part in fostering it.

3. Failing to recognise the individuality of test cases

Abraham Lincoln once said that if he’d been given six hours to chop down trees, he’d spend four hours sharpening his axe first.

Similarly, testers are sometimes guilty of paying more attention to running tests, rather than designing them.

Whilst having a solid testing process that you can count on to tackle an onslaught of cases is recommended, remember to be flexible and attentive enough to recognise the differences between one case and another and therefore to periodically ‘sharpen’ your testing process in order to handle individual cases that might require a different approach.

4. Over-reliance on technological shortcuts

Although software testing programs like ReQtest make the lives of testers much easier, they should carry a caveat reminding users that ultimately the software is as good as the user operating it.

Skill and experience trumps any advanced programs that testers may use as a crutch to help them through their work. Common sense and a good intuition for unearthing bugs don’t depend on any technological shortcut to develop, and can only be acquired through hard work.

Who tests the testers?

Before debugging the software, we should first debug our testing efforts.

By turning the testers’ analytical perspective unto themselves and examine their work in terms of the four types of mistakes listed above.

In doing so, I believe that testers can be in a better position to judge the quality of their work as well as detect and weed out any surreptitious errors that could otherwise compromise it.

Care to share any others common tester mistakes that you’ve noticed? Leave us a comment below and let’s open up the discussion.

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