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The Journey : Early Days to How I Got Here
I did my engineering in E&TC. I was placed as a R&D Engineer in
an electronics product company. My work was on the Embedded systems
domain where I did some C and x86 (Assembly) language programming for
electronic device firmwares. I was always inclined towards the software
side of a product. When I got an opportunity to work with a Software
service provider, I was happy to take it. I topped their training on
C++, Java, Perl, et al. This learning really helped to boost my
confidence. But, to my horror (at the time), I was put onto a software
testing project, a completely unknown entity for me. Testing was even
more a second class citizen in the software world then than now.
Nonetheless, after the initial hesitation, I consented and started my
Journey as a Software Test Engineer. I learnt the basics of testing and
managed to do a decent job. In my next project, I got a chance to work
on an Automation tool - Rational Robot. My programming training helped
me to master it and I went up to the next level as a Software Test
As an Analyst, I discovered the importance of processes
and metrics in the QA world. I also understood what ROI is and that Test
Automation is not suitable for all projects. In my next project and
role as a Test Lead, my responsibilities were to plan and execute all
testing activities for a small project. Meanwhile, I kept learning about
new types of testing and tools. I was also exposed to White box
testing, Web Services API testing and Database testing. I also helped do
a lot of tool evaluations during this phase. This experience helped me
to visualize and plan a testing project better. My next role as a Test
Manager required me to manage the testing processes for multiple
projects. The comparative view across projects helped me understand
various issues affecting the productivity of teams. The same perspective
also helped me use successful practices across projects to improve
efficiency. All this while, I was also doing testing hands on which
helped me keep up with newer tools and methods of testing. In my current
role as a Test Architect, I am defining processes, tools and metrics
for various projects. I am also actively working on Automation
Frameworks, Performance testing and developing a QA center of excellence
for Agile Projects.
Decisions That Mattered
The testing field is so vast and there is so much to learn. The most
important decision was to accept the testing stream as a viable career
when most peers around were skeptical. Since then, at every stage, I had
the opportunity to keep away from on-the-ground testing, but I did not.
More often than not I see people choosing to distance themselves from
hands on technical work.
The Turning Points
There are several inflection points. First was when I was in a client
interfacing role and had to work with personalities stuck in time out of
mind. The challenge was to convince them of each and every decision in
the project. Regular Reporting with data and presentations helped me
sail through those tough times.
At another project, we had to convince the client not to use an expensive testing tool set, much to their chagrin.
Work and Role: Then and Now
- Defining the QA Technology stack for projects.
- Defining and Pruning processes for efficiency.
Two Years Down the Line
I see myself spreading the culture of good testing practices and delivering high quality products.
What I Learnt Along the Way
- Keep learning and plugged in.
- Good communication is the key to success.
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
There is more awareness on the usefulness of Testing as a practice.
Trends to Watch Out For
Mobile Testing is becoming more important by the day. A tester needs to
acquire more skills to test mobiles efficiently. This is linked to the
increase in demand for cross browser and cross platform testing.
Testing is becoming more technical in nature. White-box testing, API and Web Services testing are gaining prominence.
My Advice If You are Starting Out
Keep an open mind and explore the domain. Remember that nobody can stop
you from learning and keeping up to date. So, excuses like I did not get
an opportunity to learn something are futile.
Must Focus Areas For the Future
- Mobile Application Testing
- Selenium Automation
- White box Testing
Do We Need Certifications?
Personally, certifications have helped me in knowing the possibilities
in my domain. Some employers also value certifications while hiring. If
they are not done with the right intention, certifications can also
cause more harm than good. Certifications become stale soon, so keeping
up to date with current industry knowledge is more important.
Books/ Websites I Recommend
Testing Computer Software 2nd Edition, by Cem Kaner
Last But Not Least
Attitude required of a good Tester:
A tester is the
gatekeeper of the quality of the product. Hence his attitude is very
important. He should be strong and assertive enough to raise alarms on
unplanned trespassing. But he should also be able to ask questions and
offer detailed explanations. A tester is the project teams hand shake
with the users, so he should be humble enough to accept criticism and
offer solutions. A good tester can ensure a happy project.