Friday, December 7, 2012

Software testing is common sense - right?

I'm talking here about functional testing, not performance testing, automated testing or penetration testing where you may need specialist technical skills. I may be playing devil's advocate - I'll let you decide.

I read and hear zealots advocating various tools and techniques, plying their trade. Consultancies all have their own 'new', bespoke way of doing things. It's special and better than the rest - but it isn't cheap.

I sometimes wonder, does it all need to be this complicated? Do I need to learn these techniques to know what to do and how to behave?

I don't think so - there I have said it - what do you think?

I think there are a handful of things a tester needs to have at the forefront of their mind when testing:

  • what are the business (or otherwise) goals of the software?
  • what problem is the software trying to solve?
  • what risks are there - how likely are they and how serious are they?
  • have empathy with the customer/user - get inside their heads - behave like them
So, do testers need the latest new-fangled jargon and terminology? Well, I think you know where I stand. I think testers need:
  • To be intelligent
  • To have business acumen (when testing business software)
  • Common sense
  • Good communication skills
  • People skills
  • Attention to detail
  • (you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear no matter what framework you use)
Testers should free themselves from the processes sometimes imposed on them to focus the mind on the problem at hand - the software and the business goals of that software.


  1. Not sure what you're trying to say here ? Cant you say the same about most professions, there is a standard set of skills and the consultants and tool people come in and add buzzwords and make it complicated ?
    Maybe it is complicated - what exactly do you mean by 'people skills', 'good communication skills' and 'attention to detail' ? How do you determine if people have them ? How do you improve them ? Or is all that 'common sense' and you know if someone has them or not ?

    Just giving you some feedback, maybe you could go into more detail as to why your itch needs scratching

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment Phil. I think all I'm trying to say is to get some balance between the importance of process and people in software testing (and other professions as you say). All I am saying is, get the people bit right and don't impose a process on them - let them come up with their own way of working - empower them - this is motivating for people and is the way we will get the most out of them. If consultants come in and make it more complicated, I don't see this as a good thing. Now, how do we find the right people? Well that's another massive subject in its own right - it takes experience and judgement - there probably isn't a magic bullet process for that either.

  3. These are great insights on software testing. Thank you for sharing a very relevant and informative article.