Software Testers Coaching – A Culture And Testing Approach
Software Testers Coaching
A lot of emails always seem to ask the questions “How do I do XX?” or “Do I really need to do XX?” In reality, testing is like development or project management, for example. It is a “piece of the pie” in the scope of creating systems, software and even mobile applications. Each piece has a specific role and function. In today’s reality, certain words mean a variety of things. In IT, what does the word “digital” mean? Back in the early 1990’s, “digital” referred to anything using computers. Then, back in the 2000’s, it referred to being online or using the internet. Today, for example, it refers to being mobile. But what does that mean to software testers? How do organizations coach software testers to grow within the process? Let’s start our journey and find out.
What Kind of Software Testers Do Organizations Need?
The answer is not that simple. I hope you don’t think that it was supposed to be! Organizations can use all types of software testers but it will depend on the technology, the prowess of the development team and the organization’s goals. While most organizations may provide the simple answer such as “We are waterfall”, “We are agile”, “We only use manual testing” or whatever the case may be, it is important to note that the software testers must have certain fundamental skills. Teaching someone to test is relatively an easy task but at the end of the day, they will be nothing more than an order taker, simply following the steps laid out for them. Organizations need flexible testers but how do you coach testers to be flexible?
First things first. Talk to the tester. Explain that the organization needs to be able to grow with the changing technology, be sustainable to change, and most importantly, empower the tester to take charge of their career development and growth. These three concepts need to be heard by the tester in order to start coaching them to be the kind of tester that the organization needs. A test manager leads by example and that is key. Leading by example means to take the objectives of the organization and to influence the tester to grow.
Organizations that are agile are the most common in finding testers. It is recognizable that these organizations need the testers that have leadership, organizational agility and the technical skills. These testers are more of a challenge to find but are worth it in the end. But what if the organization does not have these agile testing professionals? Then, the coaching needs to begin.
Coaching Software Testers
Coaching a software tester is relatively simple and is all about the conversation. As previously discussed in the article “Agile QA: 6 Signs Your Team Is Not Agile“, there is a mindset that might need to be changed. In addition to the mindset, the skills have to improve. It’s a two-fold process. The conversation. Organizations and test managers can initiate the conversation with the tester to help them identify the goals of the organization, the strengths that they bring to the table as well as the ability to be a team player.
To coach the tester, start with the conversation. Examples of the conversation may include things like, “The organization is growing and to keep with the changes in our competitors as well as meeting the supply and demands of the customers, we need to be able to diversify and grown. In order to do that, we all need to help with the organization’s success. Would you like to be part of that?” To the tester, this is the open door for their time to reflect on how they can help, grow and learn while helping the organization. This is coaching!
Second, the next step in coaching is to improve the software tester’s skill set. This opportunity is a partnership between the test manager and the tester but the ownership lies solely on the tester. Tools will always change in an organization as growth increases. For example, a manual testing organization that relies solely on word and excel may decide to look into a quality management tool. When this happens, not all testers may possess the knowledge and skill in the tool. Simple courses or quick learning sites can provide the most basic knowledge for the tool. The tester can use this to begin the platform of learning the tool with the next step being practicing the tool.
Successful Software Testers
The successful software tester is one that can be coached, can work with the organization’s change in direction, grow and full of empowerment. Skills are simply tools of the trade that are easily taught when the tester is coached. But in order to use the tools of learning more and more, the successful tester is the tester that always says “YES” to opportunities to grow and change. That’s organizational agility. Saying Yes doesn’t mean that the tester says yes to defects but to the way the testing evolves. Successful software testers are those who embrace coaching and mentoring with the organization’s growth in mind.