Normal people pray for good health and long life, but software testers pray for healthy software when it goes to production.
The prayer goes something like this – “Oh God, I have spent weeks testing this software and found every bug possible; please make sure that the end user doesn’t find any new bugs.”
If you are a software tester, you can easily relate to this.
If you are thinking about getting into the software testing field, you might have several questions in your mind, such as what the typical day of a software tester looks like.
You might have graduated from college or are looking for a career switch, searching for a job in testing. This article would give a good idea of how your work life would be if you became a software tester.
Software Tester’s Range
When people think of those who work in IT, they probably imagine them sitting in front of their laptops all day long, typing all day.
First of all, we are not stenographers from the 80s, and testers ensure the quality of the software is up to the mark.
Each day in the life of a software tester is different, and if you are a software tester, it means that you never stop learning.
A tester’s day-to-day life depends on whether the project follows a waterfall or agile model. Also, the project phase, but we’ll get into that later.
Usually, in a waterfall project, the testing process comes at the end. That can make the project quite expensive because many changes might be needed at once in the software.
In an agile team, the testing process is continuous during development.
Software projects have a specific software testing life cycle that determines the software testing process and the daily routine of testers. Although it can be challenging, solutions are always available.
Why Do Testers Matter In The Software Development Cycle?
Before getting into what testers do in day-to-day life, let’s look into what role they play in the overall software development cycle.
It will help you understand the roles and responsibilities of the tester even better.
In a nutshell, the job of a software tester is to help provide the organization with information about the quality of the software under test to reduce risk, optimize performance, and make sure it meets the requirements, i.e., the software should do what it was designed to do, and function properly, etc.
Developers call testers “fault-finders,” but testers are keen to ensure the quality of the software, so they are naturally curious beings, always asking “What if” questions regarding the software, which the developers do not always welcome.
No matter how many expert developers on the team might be and how much time they spend with quality assurance. There will always be defects in the software.
Basics Of Software Testing Profession
Software testing is the field chosen by testing experts to support organizations, especially designers & developers, to find the defects they made during developing & designing business software or mobile & web applications.
The goal of testing the software is to optimize performance, deliver quality, and address all the risks before releasing the final product to the customer.
What Does A Software Tester Do?
We’ll get back to the real question here “What does a software tester do daily?” – To be honest, day to day activities of a software tester entail various activities; it is not just limited to identifying the defects in software.
The goal is to ensure that the team delivers a bug-free product that is market ready.
Let’s look at those activities that a software tester does in detail.
Based on which stage the project is in, the activities of the tester change.
If you look at the testing lifecycle, it has several phases, and each phase comprises a set of activities to be performed by the tester.
Communication plays a huge part in the day-to-day life of a software tester.
As more organizations are following the agile process, this means that departments no longer function as individual silos.
Software testers are expected not only to speak and work with developers but also the product team, business team, stakeholders, and users.
So the tester should be capable of communicating with both technical and non-technical stakeholders if necessary.
The First Task On The Schedule
The day of a tester begins with checking email, message updates in the bug reports that might need attention, scheduled meetings, and Coffee!
This helps the tester to plan their day.
If there is any unanticipated work coming in, they can manage it by understanding what needs to be done, and the coffee has its benefits.
Most teams assign daily tasks to the testers through email and planners, so going through the day’s tasks can help the tester set priorities and plan their day better.
Testers scan their mailbox or project management system for emails from their developers, giving them an update on the defects they had raised the previous day.
After understanding the updates, software testers adjust their testing tasks and activities accordingly. Even though people hate change in general, adapting to change is part of software testing, and testers need to get familiar with that.
Here is where the tester understands the details of the project. Testers need to know about their requirements from the beginning. These meetings also provide the tester with an opportunity to ask questions and make comments.
In any project, the testing team should be involved right away to help plan testing with development, making sure that the development team builds quality into the product during every phase.
The team leader assigns tasks to everyone in the testing team.
Provides an opportunity to clarify doubts before starting testing.
Helps to work structurally in an organized way.
Collaboration with the development team to understand the requirements better.
Proper communication helps the testing team to generate quality in the product during every testing phase.
Meets delivery needs faster as it gives the tester confidence that they are moving in the right direction.
After dealing with the organizational and communication part of the work day(sigh relief!), the software tester jumps to the main part of their job testing by picking up the test case with the highest priority depending upon the phase of the Software testing life cycle.
Priority is generally decided by the stakeholders who communicate the events that occur in the course of the final release of the software.
|Test case designing
Understanding The Requirements
Most times, testers have to validate software they have never used before.
It will be helpful to review the requirements documents and get clarifications from stakeholders when needed.
It is a collaborative process with a lot of mutual learning by doing.
Sometimes the testers have to test without clear software requirements, specifications and documentation.
In such cases, the testing team will use exploratory testing, mind maps, and other strategies to learn more about the software.
- Communicates with various stakeholders to figure out the functionality and scope.
- Analyzes the requirements to extract test cases out of it.
- Builds the test suite out of the test cases.
- Maps the test cases to the requirements, bringing out the requirements traceability matrix.
Usually, software test leads and managers plan the team’s testing activities.
Software testers are responsible for planning future test activity and project deliverables, making sure that there are enough testers available for implementing the projects ahead.
Specifically, the test plan may include the following:
- Test goals or test objectives
- Features to be tested or not tested
- What test approaches to be used
- What test levels are needed
- Exit criteria (E.g., When to stop testing)
- Roles and responsibilities of team members
- Test milestones
- Test deliverables
Usually, the above topics are discussed in several stakeholder meetings. Planning these activities ahead of time gives a productive headstart for the testing team.
Building Test Cases
Testers prepare test cases which are nothing but documents that ensure that the software fulfills the expected functionality.
It helps the tester to verify the features thoroughly.
Based on the software, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a mobile application, website, or desktop application.
The goal of the test cases is to provide coverage.
The tester concentrates on bringing in.
- Good test coverage
- Identifies the defects
- Improve the quality of the software
- Reduce software support
- Lower maintenance cost
- Meets the requirements
Testers ensure that the test cases are reusable so that anyone in the testing team can use them to execute the test in many ways.
Test Case Execution
When the project is in the test execution phase, the tester plays a major role.
There is a general assumption that Test execution is just about running the tests through software testing tools.
It’s not as simple as people think because there is too much work handled alone by software testers, like updating scripts, preparing defects reports, giving clarification to developers, and maintaining a status report.
Also, during and after the implementation of tests, the software testing team focusing on the quality does a lot of introspection, such as
- “What can be done to increase the software’s performance?”
- “Is there any risk involved? If so, how can we help to address it?”
- “What happens if we skip the stringent security standards for desktop applications?”
These are some “What if” questions that software testers ask themselves while executing various tests, and this helps them increase their learning as well as productivity at the workplace.
Dealing With Bugs
Once the tester identifies a bug, the tester has to explain the reported bugs by conducting a proper analysis.
The report should contain steps to reproduce the bug, which involves re-running the test steps to check if the problem happens again.
For example, let’s take a test case that requires checking the functionality of a search bar on a website.
The tester has to make sure that the search is functioning as expected.
Usually, the test cases are written in the test management tool, and the tester has to test the functionality and update the status of the test case either pass/fail.
- If the functionality doesn’t work as expected, it’s a bug.
- The tester writes a bug report and assigns it to the development team.
- If the developer is unclear about the issue, they’ll send the ticket back to the corresponding tester with appropriate comments and screenshots.
- Just refer to the bug lifecycle to get a better understanding of this; based on the developer’s priority and environment, the bugs get closed.
- Each comment the development team leaves in the ticket is important to further progress in the testing; that’s why testers look it up first thing in the morning.
- Usually, these test tickets are through a series of smaller, individual tests.
Finally, when the bug is fixed, the tester has to perform retesting. The tester always double-checks that a bug has been fixed before calling it “case closed”.
Coordinating Between Departments
Software testers have to deal with many coordination tasks in their day-to-day work.
They have to make sure that the development team has the right amount of information to fix an error, ensure that designers make use of the collected user feedback, and align customers’ needs with their company’s strategy.
Testing requires a lot of coordination and communication.
While coordination with the development team is one aspect, software testers communicate effectively with other departments.
The software under test may not only have bugs in the development but also issues in graphics or other aspects.
Therefore, the tester may have to coordinate with various departments like design, etc., to ensure that problems with graphical representations are completely fixed.
What Are The Problems Software Testers Face Daily?
Software testers face several issues daily as they work with various test activities.
A new set of problems crops up each day.
Let’s look into some common issues faced by testers.
#1. Insufficient Documents
Testers always face issues with documentation as most of the information about the requirements is gathered through meetings (verbal communication) regarding the testing needs of the project.
Due to this, some components might not be tested as they were not mentioned in any meeting resulting in poor coverage.
Without the proper knowledge of the application and the requirements, the subsequent test wasted a lot of time and effort.
If the testing team gets concrete documents from all departments, it can ensure smooth functioning in the testing process.
Solution: During those meetings, testers note the Minutes of the meeting (MOM) and extra action points and forward the document to the corresponding stakeholders. This process helps the testing team align with the stakeholders regarding deliverables. Even if the development team or other stakeholders had a different opinion, they could reply to this to provide clarity.
#2. Inflexibility In Testing Tools
Most software companies expect software testers to stick with the available tools to carry out testing in a specific sequence.
Due to this, testers have to figure out how to use a tool in a different context of testing, which can lead to a lot of frustration.
The tester has to spend a lot of time explaining the higher management and the need for certain tools.
As those tools include licensing costs, the management usually won’t accept them.
It is hard to instill quality in the software when the management is pinching pennies.
Solution: Testers can always pitch the idea of procuring tools to the higher management with the right data on the cost and time saved, along with other benefits. But if they still refuse, in such cases, testers can procure some open-source software which is an alternative, and try their best to improve the quality of the application under test.
#3. Bugs Everywhere
When a build is deployed to the testing environment, software sometimes comes with many bugs. The development team will fix the bugs once the tester reports them.
When the tester retests it, another one might pop up with the same functionality.
A tester might identify a new bug and report it, but the development team might have already created a report for the same bug.
Stating that they’ll close the tester’s bug as duplicate and the tester doesn’t have visibility on whether it’s closed.
Solution: To handle this issue, the team can focus on bettering the unit testing. The tester has to sit with the developer, physically or virtually, to explain where the issue comes from and figure out the functionality. For the internal tickets, the tester can follow up with the stakeholders to clarify the issue and understand the progress.
#4. Poor Coordination Among Departments
We can all agree that everyone is busy with their work.
The development team might have got an update to change some functionalities.
If the testing team is unaware of these changes, it is a huge waste of time and effort.
The testing team might be intensely testing a certain release, they would have filed a P0 bug, but the development team might not have addressed it.
But when the testing team is about to complete their testing, suddenly, this P0 gets the attention, and they’ll scrap off the new build.
Solution: In both scenarios, due to a lack of communication and coordination, there was a lot of futile effort. The best way to overcome this issue is to have regular calls with the stakeholders to move toward a common goal.
#5. Meetings Meetings Meetings
Even though alignment meetings are very important for the testing team, they can significantly affect the productivity of any testers because the tester has to juggle between meetings, testing, designing, and planning.
Solution: The team can have a common group or channel in which the important updates for the project are notified. Scrum masters and project managers can be assigned to certain meetings, and they can update the testing team.
#6. Time Constraints
Time management is an age-old struggle in testing, and it is the greatest problem that testers face every day.
Due to various constraints, the testing team receives the software only at the last minute.
Testers must deal with the pressure of completing the task in a given timeline.
Due to some delays in various departments, the testing team has to balance the timeline and also test the application thoroughly within a short period.
Also need to report bugs, clarify functionality, and much more in the stringent timeline.
Solution: Here, we have to make sure that there are enough testers to perform the work. The right amount of training and knowledge should be there for these testers to perform these testing for such a short period.
An efficient software tester understands the complete software development process, and they can juggle and multitask.
The tester should be passionate about bringing quality to the software, is a creative and analytical thinker, and can promote teamwork to increase productivity and cooperation between both development and business teams.
Yes, Tester’s role requires a lot of testing, bug hunting, and doing it repeatedly until the quality standard is met.
But there is more to the role than you think; it also demands the necessary skill set to take on various other roles and responsibilities within the team.
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