As with most things in life, the quality of a software deliverable will reflect the amount of time, effort, ingenuity and talent put into it. Achieving this demands that the people behind the product have specific skill sets and this is especially true for testers. Let's review the top qualities to look for in quality assurance professionals:
1. Strong Communication Skills
This is more true now than ever before. Unlike the waterfall development processes of old, the software projects of today are typically collaborative endeavors with faster feedback cycles. This lean toward agile has created a demand for agile testing methodologies, and strong, organized communication at the heart of this.
Modern agile testing tools can certainly help organize collaboration efforts by providing real-time tracking features and customizable testing dashboards that keep everyone on the same page, but it won't necessarily make a tester a stronger communicator. In many environments, developers, business stake holders and QA teams are working more closely than ever before. Each may have their own unique jargon as a result of their prior experience, but it's key that they can explain ideas to one another in a way that makes sense. This is especially true for testers, who have traditionally been viewed as the final barrier between development and release of the product. As they continue to be more integrated in development cycles, it's vital that they can communicate concisely with other testers and with the rest of the application development team. When it comes to creating a strong solution for end users, there is no substitute for teamwork.
"No project in the world had been successful because of tools, budget, code or infrastructure," Software Testing Help contributor Bhumika Mehta wrote. "It was always real people who made project successful. And to make something successful, a team is required and not an individual."
2. An Analytical Mind
In many ways, testers are the scientists of the application development world. Prior to being tested, software is really just a hypothesis, structured code that is expected to do something. QA management is responsible for ensuring that the solution not only does what it was supposed to do, but that it satisfies the end user's expectations. Unit tests and regression tests can sometimes feel black and white – it works or it doesn't – but more often than not, testers are looking for what they don't know. Software testing is more like an open-ended math problem than multiple choice.
"The major objective of testing is to identify the hidden errors, not simply prove that the software works," TechTarget contributor Baiju M. wrote. "For a tester to be effective in his role, he must be able to analyze the given business situation and judge all the possible scenarios."
In order for someone to test something, they have to create logical, eloquent test cases that will identify defects they might not have been looking for. At times, this may demand a level of creativity, but it will always require strong problem-solving capabilities.
In many cases, the most efficient way to run test cases is to automate them. This is especially true of test automation integration for a test management strategy in an agile environment, where iterations are typically shorter. This means that regression tests – which must be executed upon every change to a solution – will have to be run more frequently. In a continuous deployment model, they may need to be cycled through on a near-daily basis. This is where automation skills become extremely useful to a software testing team.
According to TechBeacon contributor Yvette Francino, automation skill is going to be one of the most important credentials for software testers going forward. This isn't to suggest that manual testing is being ousted, only that many development teams are depending more heavily on software test automation than they used to. While programming skills are very rarely required of a tester, Francino noted that when it comes to automation, a QA engineer will be expected to some programming. Given that testing automation is "all the rage," it would be fair to say that testers who have what it takes to manage automated tests are the kinds of testers you probably want on your team.
4. A Willingness To Learn
That's not to say that someone who doesn't know a thing about automated testing can't learn.
This last item on the list is more of trait than a skill, but it's arguably the most important attribute as tester can bring to a team. Technology and testing tools are always changing, and user demands are constantly shifting. As such, the nature of software development and release will only continue to evolve, with new challenges arising by the day sometimes. This has always been one of the huge draws of agile development. It allows for developers to respond more quickly and more frequently respond to market conditions. This requires, above all else, a willingness to know and understand these conditions, and learn how to address them.
At the end of the day, an agile tester must be an agile learner.