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5 tricks from 5 years as a software tester

Photo by warm oven on Unsplash

And how you can use them in your team

🏆 This post was featured on Coding Jag #47, Software Testing Notes #19, Trending in Testing #5 and Testing Bits #403.

I’ve worked for seven companies since I became a tester five years ago. Each team is different, the “best practice” is the one that “best fits” the team. Still, I identified a few practices that consistently make my teams happier, and happiness is a metric for success.

Personal maps

🔴 Problem: As a tester, it’s particularly important that you have a healthy and strong relationship with your colleagues. Otherwise, you can easily be labelled as “the bearer of bad news” or “the annoying tester”.

Solution: Ask each member of the team to make a personal map. Agree beforehand a small number of questions. Focus on personal questions that might generate discussion or that would be hard to ask otherwise.

personal map example

Video demos

🔴 Problem: You often do the same product demo to different people on different occasions. You repeat yourself every time a new joiner needs to be onboarded. You describe your product using text and screenshots – it takes a long time to write and even more to understand it.

Solution: Record your demo by yourself (skip parts that will quickly become outdated; edit out mistakes; explain calmly and clearly). Think about your audience, their knowledge and expectations. The next time someone asks for yet another demo, simply reply with the link to your video. After they watched it, you can still have the meeting, but the discussion will be much more focused. This saves everyone’s time.

P.S: Keep all videos in a folder easy to find. Consider keeping another folder for screenshots, particularly for system states hard to replicate.

Lessons learned

🔴 Problem: Each team has its own challenges but some of them also occur on other teams. When teams don’t communicate they end up reinventing the wheel.

Solution: When your team solves a challenge, share it with the rest of the company (or QA discipline). Use a conversational tone and be brief, focusing on what you learned. People will ask if they want to know more.

P.S: I use the hashtag #StoryTime, a reference to Thomas Sanders’ vines.

Memes

🔴 Problem: The workplace is serious by default. We spend more than half our time there, so might as well make it more pleasant.

Solution: I transform private team jokes. Do ask your “victim” for permission before sharing your meme. Don’t post when your team is struggling. Don’t overdo it (max. 1/week).

P.S: 135 memes so far. Even after I leave a company, I still receive meme requests!

Diogo, as the meme king
All hail the meme king… or else! (Kudos to Hugo Ferreira for this meme)

Board games

🔴 Problem: On remote teams, the natural tendency is for people to disengage and grow apart. Even co-located teams need team building.

Solution: (Online) Board games are a fun way for you to engage with colleagues, from any team, in a casual environment. Do this once a month, preferably in person.

P.S: In 6 months I grew the client’s boardgames community from 3 to +30.