Building testing skills

In the over 25 years I have been in the QA discipline I have come across two types of discussions about testing skills.

1 – It is an art and it is inherently it is a trait within an individual that cannot be truly taught.

2 – It is a mindset that can be taught and flourished to get the right outcomes and succeed.

I stand with option 2. Anyone can be taught anything and have them understand what it is they need to do to have the right mindset. Much like developing code or writing requirements it is all about how much you enjoy doing it and the ease it is to understand what is being done.

I have come across individuals that just couldn’t get how to test software. They understood the processes and what was needed they couldn’t understand how to get the tasks done effectively. Does that mean they were bad testers? No, from my view was that it was not framed in a way for them to get it completely.

One of the things that I have a hard time with with the multitude of courses out there regarding QA and testing. Some of them are really good and provide the understanding of true QA and how testing is a small component of a very big thing. There are others that just focus on testing and work on just the execution, not really providing the reason as to why they are doing what they are doing.

I have even come across some colleges that provide courses in QA. The descriptions I have read on a couple don’t give the real indications of what QA actually means and solely focuses on testing. When I researched these course it was a few years ago. A couple of them now have been discontinued with those schools. I can see why, partly because they never really gave the value this discipline has.

I have stated before I would love to see an entire program on QA within a college. Why not? They have them for engineering and development. It only makes sense.

In the meantime, here is what I do to build the skills of anyone that wants to do QA and testing.

1 – Get them to ask questions? They don’t have to get into the full details of what is going on, yet they should ensure they are getting enough details to get the job done effectively. Understand how the code works. When I first started QA and Testing I went overboard on writing cases and doing work. Since I didn’t understand the flow it got out of hand and a lot of duplication of work.

2 – Think efficient. To many times I have seen inefficient was of testing work that took too long to get done. Line up the cases in a flow, be smart about recording results, don’t write cases that are big.

3 – Review, review, review. This is one of the most important things I stress. Everyone within the delivery team should all agree to what the expected outcome a test is or that there is enough detail in requirements/stories to get moving on development.

The interesting thing here is what I just talked about is nothing new. There is plenty of literature out there that says basically the same thing. So if that is the case why is it difficult to build the skill set? Who knows, maybe management lack of understanding, conflicting views of what it means within the discipline, or no time to get that knowledge.

I fell if, at the very least, the three base methods I provided will give guidance to search out that knowledge. Get what is needed to improve professionally and the organization as well.

For me personally I am trying to draw out plans for a proper college program for QA, and I mean true QA. Obviously there will be some components of how to test, where I want to really focus is on Quality Assurance with Software. I want to build the community and help show the value.