Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Am Not (Only) A Tester

One of the benefits of taking some time off is the chance it affords you to look at yourself and see what really is there without being caught up in the moment. I took the last week off, looked at myself, and discovered that I'm not really a tester. Or more precisely, I am a tester, but that's only part of what I do.

Look, for example, at the recent things I've done or been involved with:
  • drafted management, monitoring, packaging and configuration requirements for a new system we're working on (I'm the one who thinks about the infrastructure stuff)
  • modified and extended test infrastructure (and fixed a couple bugs along the way)
  • been the general email/document reviewer for my boss and several others on some business development work we do. They call it the "grammarian" hat.
  • tested software (the "I am a tester" part)
  • worked with some team members to help them learn how to find trends in field and internal issues
  • written a couple blog posts
What I am is what many testers are - someone who is skilled at looking at systems, breaking them down into their component pieces and then building them up to see the larger picture. This systems thinking plays across the software development life cycle, from requirements elicitation to development, deployment, and into supporting and maintaining the system.

I'm a tester, and so much more than that.


  1. Good Post Catherine. All that you mentioned above aid testers in being better testers by getting a bigger picture of the product and other aspects within the organization.

    I once worked with a tester who was very good in testing and interested just in testing. He never took interest in anything else (not even filing bug reports clearly). He neither worked on his communication skills nor did he help contribute to support teams, documentation team and other testing teams. This made him feel less wanted in the team because people perceived him as specialized in just one area.

    Ethically, I am not sure how far this notion about him was right, but I believe that being able to do different things as a tester helps a lot.

    Parimala Shankaraiah

  2. I will be taking this post and giving it to my manager while saying "this, this is our job description"

    I'm really glad Myn pointed me over to your blog btw, great read.


  3. That is richness of "testing" job. If project has process problems, devs don't notice it. Usually testers does. So they are process cops.

    Bad documentation or messed up project wiki doesn't bother devs. It bothers testers. So you have to be librarian and organize it, instruct people how to use it.

    Testers quite often end up to be misunderstood. So we have to have good communication skills. And at least I have to produce lot of documents, reports, instructions and so on. So I have to be author also.

    Without all of these sides I'd probably became bored and changed the job. So it's great to be 'tester'.

  4. Really great post- the different things we do every day make our job kinda great and unique. I love the different backgrounds and skill sets that testers bring to the table.