11 Skills of Highly Effective Software Testers
Testing is a very important step in software development.
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Testing is a very important step in software development. A bug within a simple application can often have catastrophic consequences for a developer. It is thus essential that we have someone who goes through the million lines of codes and points out the errors in them. You would be surprised at the number of bugs that get overlooked in the development phase of any application. These bugs may result in the application failing on ‘going gold,’ which may be really expensive for the developer.
This is where a software tester comes into the picture. They go through the entire code and ensure that the product is of the highest quality by eliminating any bugs present in them. Many people assume that software testing is a mundane task involving very less analytical and problem-solving abilities. However, one couldn't be any further from the truth. Software testing is a highly complex task that requires them to possess a number of essential skills.
1. Analytical Thinking
The major role of any software engineer is to ensure that the product they are testing works in the most efficient way possible.
These include finding errors along with areas where optimization is possible. For an individual to be suitable for this role, they should possess a certain analytical bent of mind that enables them to analyze a situation very intricately and come up with the best solution possible.
A software tester should have the necessary skill to identify problems and come up with a foolproof strategy to tackle them.
2. Understanding Priorities
It is highly essential that a good software tester possesses great time management skills.
It is essential that the tasks at hand be analyzed and prioritized for completion. A lot of software engineers are given projects that usually come with tight deadlines. Such tight schedules make it important that you understand which part needs to be prioritized and which should be moved down the to-do list. As a tester, you need to identify areas which require greater attention and which parts need to be tested first. Once, you have mastered prioritizing, you realize that half your work is cut out for you.
3. Be Intellectually Curious
One of the most important qualities that set a good software tester apart from a regular one, is being intellectually curious. A good software engineer should believe in the value of pursuit for knowledge.
Testers shouldn’t be hesitant to ask questions.
Being intellectually curious enables a tester to identify interesting perspectives of the project that they are assigned to. They should be able to ask the right questions, collect the necessary information, and execute it to come to the best solutions. This enables them to develop an eye to identify what others haven’t, think what others haven’t, and perform their role to their best of their abilities.
4. Be Creative
Software testing is all about coming up with new ideas.
Software testing is a test of your knack to be creative and understanding the product as deeply as possible. When you come up with a new idea, you immediately set yourself apart from the pack. As a software engineer, your ideas should not be to write a mundane test case, but rather think out of the box and come up with new ideas to test it. This would help you gain the confidence of your superiors at work.
A good software tester should be able to use good reporting skills. They need to effectively provide the status of the project that they have been working on to the stakeholders of the application or the bugs that they have encountered. This practice leads to improved coordination among the entire team and enables the top management to effectively understand the status of the project which helps them take effective decisions.
As developers and management are interested only in the final report. So, a bug report should be consolidated and clear.
Related Article: All about Triaging Bugs
No one would be interested in knowing how many test cases you have run in the entire day. It should be concise and merely confined to the results.
6. Always Ready to Learn
The software industry is dynamic — it changes every day. This means that the processes and technology that are considered cutting edge today could be outdated tomorrow. Therefore, it is important that a software tester can notice, learn, and adapt to the changes in the industry. They should be open to learning from everything they notice in life.
Learning, in fact, is a lifelong process. It is not only about learning new tools but keeping up with new technologies and creating new ideas.
For instance, a few years back, almost all the testing was manual and nobody even cared to test their website for cross-browser compatibility. Why? Because only one or two browsers were prominent at that time! But, with changing times, a lot of browsers and platforms are available, which the users are using to access the internet. In such a scenario, it is crucial for a software tester to understand the need for cross-browser compatibility and make use of methods, tools, and techniques for the same.
7. Good Communication
A software tester must possess excellent communication skills. They should be able to convey their thoughts and ideas in an effective way by using a variety of available tools and resources.
They need to be able to use these skills to effectively communicate the results of their work to the stakeholders to keep them informed of the developments. This helps to update the clients by translating the required documents and also helps inform the management about team requirements.
Having excellent communication skill also helps in conveying ideas and providing insights in a pragmatic and factual manner.
8. Project Management Skills
For software engineers, project management skills are essential for problem-solving. It prepares testers to be accountable and responsible for their work. It also makes them take responsibility and manage the elements of the project. Good project management skills help deliver high-quality results and complete the testing project effectively.
A software tester should be able to handle the various process of the work independently.
This will sharpen their ability to work on the various stages of the project from the requirements to the final delivery of the output. When done with the almost limited supervision of their manager, it will help in instilling greater confidence.
A good software tester must be open to working within a team. They should be able to work on a project with limited supervision and meet the deadlines that are provided.
They can recognize opportunities where they need to take up a supervisory role and when they would be required to take assistance from other members of the team.
They should analyze the task quickly and identify the best solutions to complete the plan that has been developed.
The understanding of the skills of their teammates and use them skillfully to complete the task.
10. Effectively Deal With Various Stakeholders
A software project is incredibly complicated. It involves dealing with the various stakeholders of the project. A software tester should be able to deal with the various complexities and third-party members in a professional and efficient manner. They must be able to perform the tasks of the project and provide the validation to the various stakeholders involved. At the same time, they must be aware of various issues that may be integrated with the various elements of the project.
11. Thinking as a User
Well, there is no denying the fact that:
The user is the ultimate tester.
It would be really great if a software tester actually puts themself into the shoes of a user and tests stuff accordingly.
An important aspect of the testing process is to make sure the experience is seamless and convenient for the user. There is an increasing need for getting out of the traditional testing methods and communicating with real people. Reduce the assumptions based on a tester’s personal taste or experience. Incorporate user insights into what they actually want or think when using or considering a product. Rather than making it more idealistic, the focus should be on making it more customer-centric.
These were our top ten skills for software testers. Software testing is a highly complex task because every project is unique. Considering this, a software tester should be willing to continuously grow and innovate. They should be able to make use of their skills to not only detect bugs but also find new opportunities within the application. They need to exploit these opportunities to produce the most optimized version of an application.
They say that the right skills can make a major difference in the software industry. By developing your skills through continuous learning, a software tester can stand out among the pack of countless software testers in the industry.
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