When I hear 'I've tested before'
Updated: Sep 29
I believe that every single person on a team can test.
I articulate that here: Anyone can test and here: You don't need QA specialists and here: Testers are responsible for the quality of the delivered product
That includes any person (on / off a team) that has a responsibility for delivering high-quality software. That person can be a Dev, PO, SM, Designer, Tech writer or a.n other Stakeholder
I've had in-depth conversations about what 'skilled' testing looks like with all of the above people.
I'm always open-minded when I enter into these conversations, I don't have the keys to the kingdom.
I'm open to learning.
These conversations (if they happen at all) normally devolve into the throwaway comment. 'I've tested before' as if that is the silver bullet that tells you all you need to know.
I understand that there are lots of team members and stakeholders that have never seen skilled testing in action before, they've never seen the results that skilled testing can deliver so I understand the reasoning and rationale behind the statement.
It gives me a launchpad into the thinking models that they use and what they understand by them, whether they see testing as a dedicated role or whether they see testing as an activity or whether they see testing as something all-encompassing that I haven't thought of.
Part of our job as testers is to educate and be educated. These are the immediate questions that spring to mind when I hear that comment.
Does it mean ‘I queried the stories for assumptions, ambiguities, correctness and collaborated with the team responsible to remove or clarify my questions'?
Does it mean ‘I adopted a questioning mindset and reported my observations with the appropriate context to the PM / PO / Team / Stakeholder for a decision'?
Does it mean ‘I’ve articulated the risks and collaborated with people to confirm and mitigate those risks’?
Does it mean ‘I’ve found things (explicit or implicit) that may threaten the value of the delivery to the customer’?
Does it mean ‘I’ve followed explicit procedures that I've written to the letter’?
Does it mean ‘I’ve followed explicit procedures that someone else has written to the letter’?
Does it mean ‘I’ve demonstrated that it does what it’s supposed to do as per the explicit specs’?
Does it mean ‘I’ve demonstrated that it does what it’s supposed to do as per the implicit specs’?
Does it mean ‘I’m happy to release based on the evidence provided’?
Does it mean that 'I'm happy that the internal and external expectations have been met'?
Does it mean 'I've written unit tests with usage of the functions in mind'?
Does it mean 'I've experienced the product and I would use it'?
Does it mean 'I've used the product and based on 'my' usage model I think it will be a frictionless experience for the user / support team / sales team'?
Does it mean 'I've used the product and based on a 'defined' users usage model I think it will be a frictionless experience'?
Does it mean 'I've designed an automated check based on an analysis of criteria that would suggest that the criticality and value of this functionality is worth the effort'?
Does it mean 'I've implemented code using good design patterns such as abstraction, DRY, Solid, POM, Screenplay'?
Does it mean 'I've scripted automated checks based on some arbitrary coverage metric'?
Does it mean 'I've executed automated checks on the understanding that those automated checks will provide a baseline of confidence that a machine can successfully navigate a workflow '?
Does it mean 'I've paired up with peers to discuss the value of my activity'?
Does it mean 'I've paired up with peers to identify inconsistencies in my model and my understanding of the product'?
Does it mean 'I've accepted that 100% coverage isn't possible so I focused on the priority risks'?
Does it mean 'I've adopted a professionally sceptical mindset of both mine and my teams ideas'?
Does it mean 'I've explored and experienced the product with the intent of finding out information about the product'?
Does it mean 'I've found potential issues and discussed / documented those potential issues for investigation by someone who matters'?
Does it mean 'I've evidenced my testing activities to my peers in an articulate, understandable way'?
...and many, many more
There are many more questions that a skilled tester should formulate as part of their approach to advocating for testing as a skilled activity and undertaking testing as a skilled activity....or y'know...js/java/python/framework/magic.
You do you.
Saying that "I've tested before" as some kind of golden ticket to skilled testing equivalence doesn't make it so.
Have the conversations with your team and other people that matter.
It will make you a better tester.
It will make those around you better testers.
It will make your team better at testing.