You can only take responsibility for what you can control. But,

I-am-responsible

As software testers we go out of our ways to make things perfect or at least close to perfect.

But producing quality software is not a testers responsibility. Let me back up my statement a bit. First of all, software development is not done single handedly. There is lot of people involved in the process. From the customer who explains what he wants, BA who gets the requirements and do the wireframes, a designer who put bits and pieces together to make it look good, developers who implement them, to testers who want to break them bad.

Brain positioning – You can only take responsibility for the things you can control.

Therefore software testers alone cannot take the accountability of the software developed. Nevertheless we are here to try. To struggle and to find out the ways and processes that could achieve excellence.

How? Through Quality Assurance

Lets get few things sorted. Software testing and Quality assurance are same but different. Same because they both want quality software. Different because, software quality assurance is there to prevent bugs while software testing is to catch the bugs, which were not prevented along the process.

The QA engineer’s job is to make sure the processes that are followed are the best processes, to check whether the team members are adhering to standards, to make sure guidelines and standards are followed properly and quality software is produced on time.  As Michael Korda has stated

In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have (and which is the most difficult one of all to learn or fake) is the ability to take on responsibility.

So i believe QA engineers must go beyond what they are suppose to do, they should take responsibility of what they cant control and try to direct the rest of the team towards producing the quality products.

It is QA engineer’s responsibility to find the loopholes in the current process, which might be the reason for law quality products. It’s his or her job to come up with new processes and tools to enhance the process. It’s their sense of duty to analyse, understand and address any people issues, conflicts or personal matters among the team members that might be causing terrible end products.

These things doesn’t come in the job description but since we are even taking the responsibility for what we can’t control, it won’t hurt to go beyond from what has be done to whats crucial for better quality products.

Even though you cant take responsibility for what you can’t control, you can take responsibility for what you can control.

So go ahead take control. No more pointing fingers. No more excuses. Be responsible and take responsibility. Because that’s what leaders do. Quality products is your success. Take the initiative. Do the work and persist to the end.

Software Testing – it’s all about going that extra mile

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I’ve been reading Robin Sharma’s greatness guide a little while ago and in it he talks about being wise. A runner who is putting on her jogging shoes on a winter morning is doing it not because it’s fun to run outside on a cold morning but because it’s wise. A sales person making one extra call at the end of an exhausting day is doing it not because it’s entertaining but because it’s wise. A manager who’s writing a report after a long day at office and reading it one more time to make sure it’s perfect is doing it not because it’s a comfortable thing to do, but because its wise.

Big idea. Made me think that same applies for software quality assurance. Yes we do it knowing it’s not easy to afford it. But because it’s wise. Software testing is always treated as the less beautiful sister of the software industry. If something goes wrong it’s the first thing to be blamed. But if there are any budget or time constrains it’s the first thing to go out of the door.

What most people don’t get is, customer doesn’t care how brilliant your team is, how many developers and architectures you have included in your team or how many extra hours they’ve put on working. What they really care is the quality of the product. They want something they can see, that fulfils their requirements and that they can make money out of.

At the same time, today’s business is not about really products or services. It’s about how your products or services make the customer feel.

Today’s competition is not to sell the products but to win hearts. But not many businesses get it. That’s the main reason they fail. People crave for good feelings. People love to feel good and important. We all have that craving deep down to feel loved and cared. How do we show our customers that we care for them? It’s by giving them a quality product. it’s by understanding them and their needs. It’s by getting it right. It’s by delivering them what we’ve promised. On time.

Software testing and software quality assurance is different but similar. Similar because both wants to improve software. Different because quality assurance is all about preventing bugs while testing is finding the bugs that couldn’t be prevented.

As Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi wrote in his book Lovemarks – Future beyond brands;

“What’s needed are customer Love affairs. Business to day is an emotional event.”

To win the hearts of our customers is to make them happy. When it comes to software, bug free products with best user experience make the customers happy.

So how do we accomplish it? If not quality assurance then what? If not testers then who?

Why you should Read? Because SMART is the new Sexy

if-you-think-reading-is-boring-youre-doing-it-wrong-book-quote

Let’s face the truth. “Knowledge is Power”. I love reading. In fact i’m obsessed with it. I buy a new book at least every month. I have a collection of books i may never be able to finish reading in this life time. I spend nearly 10 hours of my day in front of a computer. Did that stop me from reading? No way, Internet is a great source of information. I find at least one hour a day to read about something new. To day i read about “How successful people plan their day’s work and stick to that plan”. Yesterday, it was about Napoleon Hill. The ideas flowing through your system, all the energy and the way it transforms your thinking pattern is pretty amazing and priceless.

If you are a person who haven’t touched a book after leaving school, you need to think twice. For the past couple of months i’ve been reading about extraordinary people around the globe and there was one thing that linked them all together. They are good readers. In fact, they knew how important it is to read. They knew reading transforms lives.

Still having doubts? Let me give you three good reasons why you should seriously consider start reading.

1. Reading will shape you up

Yes. It’ll improve you as a person – your knowledge, your writing and speaking skills, your vocabulary and the way you think, everything will be changed when you start reading. You will know how to analyse a situation carefully. You will make wise decisions. Reading will make you a better person and will transform your life.

2. Reading brings out the inner piece.

Apart from the fact that all of your troubles will vanish like bubbles when you lose your self in a good book, reading will always bring you inner piece and serenity. It will take you places.

3. Reading encourage you

Reading floods your mind with new ideas and stretches it. There’s nothing like reading about someone who overcame similar difficulties in life and achieved big goals. Ralph Emerson says it right,  “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

Reading is what separates you from the rest.  As age old saying goes, “not reading is same as not knowing how to read”.

Smart is the new sexy. We live in an era where knowledge is power. So if you want to lead you have to read. Period.

Silence your critics

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Do you have critics? Good. That means you are working towards something big in your life. Are you worried about criticism? A bit may be. But definitely you shouldn’t.

As age old saying goes; THE ONLY WAY TO AVOID CRITICISM IS TO SAY NOTHING, DO NOTHING, BE NOTHING.”

First of all you need to realise that I am not at all talking about positive, constructive feedback here. Your constructive criticism is always welcome. But i’m sure there will always be people who criticise anything and everything you do, just for the sake of criticising.

I’ve been trying to understand these kind of negative people and their behaviour for sometime and came up with three good explanations which i believe is the case.

1. Lack of self confidence

The first thing i’ve observed is that majority of the critics are not successful people. They live depressed, unhappy lives and are insecure. So they criticise others and put them down just to feel worthy and successful.

2. They are demotivated and lack enthusiasm 

They are not self driven people. Big ideas wont light up the fire in their belly, like me and yours. Change will just scare them to the core. The best reaction they got, is to criticise. They will find one hundred reasons not to do something you work your head off to find a way to do it.

3. They are jealous and inferior

They are not passionate about anything. They seldom have big dreams. They feel worthless deep down and try to win the moment just by the technicality of the words to let you down and to feel superior.

One other thing i’ve noticed about critics is even though they criticise others all the time, they can’t even take a little criticism. They just blast out at the first sight of a criticism. But every critic is not a hater. May be they are telling you the truth. So listen carefully and take what matters just dust off the rest.

So here’s three simple tips to silence your critics.

1. IGNORE: You don’t have to attend to every argument you are invited to;

You always have the wise choice of whether to respond or not to an argument you are invited to. Nevertheless, if you find his/her negative opinion is affecting other people in your team as well, you should have the guts to talk back. However, keep in mind never to fall in to their status just for the sake of winning the argument.

George Carlin gets it right when he said – ‘Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.’

2. KNOW YOUR SELF WORTH: The only opinion that matters is your own. 

This definitely doesn’t mean it’s wise to never listen to anybody. You should always respect others and listen carefully. But when it comes to critics who try to drag you down, you have to be tough. Always keep in mind what Channing Pollock said about critics. “A critic is a legless man who teaches other people to run”.

3. BE OUTRAGEOUSLY SUCCESSFUL

Be a rockstar at work. Give your best to life and i promise you, life will always give you the best. Work hard. Be relentlessly enthusiastic. Wear your passion on your sleeve. Show fully at work. Give 100% dedication to what you do and your success is guaranteed.

The best way to silence your critics is being successful.

There’s this quote by Michael Bassey Johnson; “If your success is not amazing to your critics, it disturbs, infuriates, and frustrates them, and if they’re not careful; may go hang themselves and go to hell.” 

Remember the more you love your way of thinking, your opinion and the decisions you make, the less you need others to love them.

So, be an encourager. World is full of critics already.

When my Guy friends call a nagging customer ‘he is such a girl’

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I’m a software tester.I’m passionate about what i do. I think everyone should be.  I’m the only female employee in my work place. I find it challenging; specially in a country where men are considered superior than women. Only yesterday few of my friends were discussing about one of our customers, who kept on changing the requirements and pointing the finger at us.

 A good friend of mine called him a girl. “He is such a girl” was what exactly he said. I was alarmed and i said “Oh common don’t call him a girl, call him a dumb girl or something”. And he replied, “Oh common all girls are like that”. Everyone else agreed. But not me. It made me think. Conversations like those do that. Don’t they?

Okay lets be smart here. First of all, there is no specific things that makes someone a girl, and more importantly, you could not think of a less insulting insult than to call someone a girl. Many girls like flowers and pink and glittery stuff.  Many boys like video games and movies and stuff. I like flowers and I like watching movies. The truth is, you can never define people and their quality by their gender. If you want to really define them, heres how to do it. Define them by how brave, confident, independent, strong, smart, uplifting, charismatic, passionate OR negative, hurtful, judgmental, weak, lack of self confidence, demotivated they are.

I’m a girl. I’m relentlessly enthusiastic and outrageously passionate, self driven and motivated. I’m strong, smart and confident. If that makes me such a girl. Fine. Go ahead. Call any one like me “Such a girl” True i have my flaws. After all, who doesn’t?.

Being a girl doesn’t define you. But it’s definitely challenging. According to Raleigh Mayer aka The Gravitas Guru of Raleigh Mayer Consulting; “You will never suit everyone’s taste, but keep in mind that while men may be threatened by powerful females (because we compete with them), women are more likely to be jealous (because we overshadow them).”

Being such a girl is a nice thing for me. But definitely not a good phrase to describe a nagging client. May be he is been him self. May be he is “such a boy”.

Grace under pressure – How do you handle tough times?

Grace under pressure

I’ve being reading the last few chapters of my favourite book “Greatness Guide” by Robin Sharma this morning. Awesome book. Changed my life. In it Sharma explains this amazing quality “Grace under pressure”.

Let’s face it. Life of a software tester is not an easy one. Software testing is important just as software development. But software testing has always being treated as the less glamorous sister of software industry. If time and budgets are tight, testing phase is the first to be kicked out of the window.

In real life, no matter how much you plan, how good the project plan is, how greatly you calculated the risks and dependencies, you are NOT gonna get the whole planned testing time. Developers will take all their time and you are gonna get bottlenecked at the very few days of the project or sprint release. Most probably you will have to work late hours, come early, run around the office like a crazy person asking this and that from the developers and showing them bugs. And to add to that list there will be magic bugs that disappears the moment you try to show them to the developers.

So when that happens;

  • How good a person are you?
  • Can you keep the smile on your face?
  • Can you talk to the developers and other members of your team with respect and politeness?
  • Do you get stressed out and angry?
  • Do you cry? (specially if you are a female tester)
  • Do you use lot of swear words and throw things? (if this happens you need help)

If the answer is NO for most of the above questions, you are a great software tester. On top of that you are a great leader. Grace under pressure is that one unique quality separates the winners from the rest of the ordinary people. If you answered YES for most of the questions you really have to work on your people skills. if you are a junior QA/tester don’t worry much because by experience you will be able to handle such tough situations gently.

However there are few things that would help you to handle stuff gracefully under pressure.

  • Be very well organised – so you don’t have to clarify the requirements while testing. This will take most of the pressure off you and you will be able to stay focused on testing.
  • Listen carefully – Listen to understand but not to reply. Most of us practice our answer while the other person talks. Be all ears. Try to understand what the other person is saying (Developer, BA, PM etc)
  • Try to see the situation from the developers point of view –  Results may surprise you. Trust me this really works. In any situation where you have a trouble or argument with someone else do this and you will realise you would have done the same in such circumstances.
  • Understand that your bad mood wont help you or the team – It will just make you look bad and will make you an unhappy person – So get your self together and work efficiently.
  • Never take anything personally – This is your job. Don’t overthink and create problems that aren’t already there. When a developer tells you that he don’t see it as a bug, he is NOT telling “i think you are stupid that you see this as a bug” he is just saying that he thinks this is not a bug.
  • Smile a lot – They wont have the heart to let you down when you are smiling. Trust me that’s my secret weapon. Works all the time.

Wishing you stress free project releases.

Shri

How to deal with a developer that wont listen to you

 

 

arguments

 

I’m sure you guys must have gone through this kind of situation at least once in your life. For an example let’s run through a conversation i had with a developer couple of days back.

Me: Hi you got a second? (Smiling and all)

Dev: Yeah sure.

Me: See in this screen once you double click on this menu item you kind a get stuck. I’m not sure whether this is the correct behaviour.

Dev: Well, you are not suppose to double click on that menu item. You only click on it once.

Me: I see. But what happens if a user double clicks on it by accident? He is stuck in the same screen and with the menu bar on top of it.

Dev: But the intended screen is loading from back of the menu bar

Me: Yeah I understand. But user can’t see it. On top of that he can’t understand what’s going on. Right?

Dev: Why?

Me: (Speechless)

Me: Well, since you have lot of other bugs to fix will talk about this later. Thanks for your time

…………………………. Few days later ……………………….

Customer: There is a bug – Once you double click on an item of menu you get stuck.

PM: @Dev can you fix this asap.

Dev: User normally doesn’t double click on a menu item.

PM: Well, first of all he did. Second of all, then we should not allow him to double click on the first place. Use some indicator to show him the page is still loading and don’t allow double clicking.

Dev: Fixed

Me: (To my self  – Told ya )

In an agile environment where lot of releases are done in a short period of time it’s easy to lose bugs like this. Specially at the very beginning of a project where priority is given to crashing issues and getting the stuff functioning. If you don’t log it somewhere, you are sure to forget about it. The next thing you know is, customer coming up with emails and calls with that bug you let slip away because the developer was not listening.

Do not let that happen. So in a situation like this, what are the actions you can take?

  1. Ask another developer whether he thinks this is a bug and whether it’s fixable? (Just ask)
  2. Talk to a senior QA and ask his/her opinion about it. (Getting a second opinion is always better)
  3. Log the bug (If you are using a bug tracking tool log in it – this doesn’t mean you hate the developer)
  4. Make sure to include it as a known issue in a issue list or relevant document.
  5. Make it visible so you wont forget – Write it in a post it and put somewhere you can see (Make sure the cleaning lady wont sweep them away)

It’s okay to make a fool out of your self and try to figure out whether a bug is an actual bug and whether it’s fixable or not. Trust me this has happened to me several times. I’ve let bugs slip through my fingers because developers told me they are not fixable. First of all, there are no “UNFIXABLE” bugs. There can be situations where it’s hard to fix. But what you should know about a bug is, that the developers developed them along with the software. If something is wrong, user should always be prompted with a proper message, feedback, or help instructions.

So make a complete fool out of your self. Run around asking stupid questions. Make sure you do your job. Ensure you catch the bugs before the customers. Make sure you never let go of a bug un-fixed.

Good Luck

Shri