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 Analyst.
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
Two Years Down the Line
- Defining the QA Technology stack for projects.
- Defining and Pruning processes for efficiency.
I see myself spreading the culture of good testing practices and delivering high quality products.What I Learnt Along the Way
Changing Days: Lessons Learnt
- Keep learning and plugged in.
- Good communication is the key to success.
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
Do We Need Certifications?
- Mobile Application Testing
- Selenium Automation
- White box Testing
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 KanerLast 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.