February 22, 2017
According to Jerry (Gerald) Weinberg, a renowned computer scientist and testing expert, “If you are not learning something new each day, you are not testing”. Well, this statement holds true especially when the technology, agile and devops methodologies are advancing rapidly while accelerated development and continuous deployments are getting more complex, making testing a critical activity. This demands more deliberation on the part of testers to do the job right.
Hence, learning new things and advancing in the technical skills becomes inevitable to keep up with the trends and avoid becoming obsolete. In that, every tester needs to be able to do a variety of things such as probing into requirements, asking more questions, comprehending product information, communicating with the clients, etc. to remain competitive and relevant.
So, given the importance of staying on the leading edge of the software testing profession, here are the 15 skills every software tester should master in 2017.
1. DevOps & Agile Methodology
With the pressing demand to meet delivery deadlines, testers need to learn Agile & DevOps methodology due to the fact it promotes collaborative and iterative working models. While Agile methodology imparts speed to the test project, DevOps helps with cross-functional teamwork right from the development, analysis, and QA which yields high-quality end product at a faster time-to-market. Moreover, learning these methodologies removes the role rigidity and silos, allowing teams to pay close attention to phase-wise development and continuous releases.
With the increasing complexities and integrations in the application, relying on manual testing alone cannot get the job done. For testing browser compatibility, performance, headless as well as database and integration layers, testers should learn automation skills since it imparts higher accuracy because of the business logic and technicalities it can serve. In addition, there are several test automation tools that dedicatedly support specific testing type and come with features to get the tasks done quickly and efficiently.
3. Web & Mobile Technologies
Every tester must also get familiar with the web and mobile technologies so that they can understand the type of application, its built and scalability and apply a suitable course of action for its testing. It is highly important that testers keep a tab on the web and mobile technology advancements since it guides them in comprehending the coding architecture and technical challenges to deliver effective QA solutions.
It is also advisable for testers to learn the software lifecycle management skills as it will help them understand the application development tasks and plan testing cycles easily. Having an in-depth knowledge of SDLC cycle will also help anticipate complexities in the application which can guide in taking the right measures beforehand. With this, testers must also learn a couple of development methodologies like Waterfall, Kanban, Scrum, Lean, etc. that applies to the application development lifecycle processes.
5. Rational Analysis & Logical Thinking
In order to remain competitive, testers should also learn to be rational, analytical and logical since these skills when applied while testing helps them identify errors, understand the complexities, assess the unfamiliar behavior of the application and test them accordingly. Having good analytical and reasoning skills helps in validating applications against different scenario and examine its elements, workflows against pre-defined standards. This further aids in assessing relevant information, raise clear questions, identify strengths and weaknesses without being biased, which helps with the right course of action and solution.
6. Social Networking
Social Networking skills are pretty much required for any professional in any industry. Since social networks provide instant access to discussions, resources and content, honing skills in this area definitely help software testers to engage with counterparts, learn new things and keep updated with the latest information. Having social networking skills also lets you connect with experts on Twitter and LinkedIn to exchange knowledge and of course build long-term relationships that can be beneficial for your professional and enterprise-level goals.
7. Testing Tools & Techniques
It is necessary for every tester to be aware of different testing techniques and usage of tools. Regardless of the domain and application type, the knowledge of different testing types likes black box testing, penetration testing, security testing, system testing, unit testing, etc. makes testers versatile, helping them work on any sort of project. Moreover, with the number of tools that have been available in the marketing such bug tracking tools, test management tools, GUI testing tools, automation tools etc. it is also important for testers to get the knack of these tools to serve different requirements and complexities of the project.
When we talk about programming, it isn’t that testers need to work like a developer, but it is important to understand the inside out of the application so that it becomes easy to comprehend its functioning and create tests accordingly. Programming knowledge helps in identifying possible errors in the application code which further reduces the chances of bugs and application inefficiencies. It is advisable to learn at least two programming languages since there are brighter chances for testers to understand the workarounds of the application for ensuring better application quality lifecycle.
9. Communication – Written & Oral
Every tester should also possess good communication skills. By good communication, we mean that they should be a good writer, speaker, listener and reader to communicate effectively with stakeholders such as update the status of the project to the clients, inform about requirements to the team, communicate issues to the developers, translate requirement documents to test cases and prepare reports for management. Apart from this, good communication helps in demonstrating a high degree of comprehension which further helps in conveying insights and giving feedback to both technical and non-technical people logically and rationally.
10. Intellectuality & Creativity
Software testing is not a routine or mundane task, instead, it is a process that requires creativity and intellectual bend of mind. Intellectuality and creativity cannot be learned, however, one can try to think out-of-the-box by questioning the application behavior and analyze different sides of the application to understand it’s working. Also by applying intelligent insights and solutions, testers can explore different test scenarios, identify defect probabilities and seek possible solutions for delivering effective product quality.
11. Test Planning & Documentation
Test planning and documentation skills are essential for every tester since it helps in identifying the right requirements and take appropriate steps. This skill also helps track the changes in requirements, check test processes and trace deviations and also helps in reporting and logging of work. A well-documented test process also can help both individual testers as well as enterprises to allocate the right budget and resources to a project which is why test planning and documentation skill is one of the important skills every tester must learn.
12. Project Management
Learning the skills of project management will instill problem-solving ability in testers. Project management skills also prepare testers to be accountable and answerable for their work to concerned stakeholders and also undertake responsibility and management the end-to-end testing project. This way, project management skills contribute to delivering quality results, improving the entire test process.
13. Customer Support
Unlike traditional set-up, modern day test projects demand testers to be ready for providing customer support and think from their perspectives. Being a tester does not mean that they should always remain back office for they contribute equally to the success or failure of the test project and hence should always be available to respond to and support customer requirements.
A good tester must also possess good reporting skills to provide the exact status of the test project and application under test to stakeholders. This practice of reporting leads to better coordination of the overall test project and also gives transparency to the top management in terms of test cases executed, bug encountered, release timelines, etc. which eventually helps in taking the right decisions.
15. Independent Working
Lastly, software testers should learn the skill of working independently. This will sharpen their ability to work on the task right from requirement understanding (technical and business needs) to final delivery of output, taking the right steps without assistance from others or supervision from the manager. Learning to work independently will instill more confidence in them.
Regardless of the number of experience years, testers should strive to continually learn and improve their software testing skills and knowledge. Be it self-learning or engaging in a training program, testers should continuously learn new approaches, methodologies, and processes to improve performance in testing and keep applying the new skills and learning to keep themselves ahead of the competition.
What are your thoughts? If you think we have missed any important skill, feel free to add in the comments section below.