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Navigating QA Life: Lessons Learned from My Journey

Embarking on a career as a software tester, I have traversed a winding path filled with valuable experiences and, yes, mistakes.

It is through these missteps that I have learned the most, honing my skills and becoming a better tester. In this article, I will take you on my journey, sharing personal anecdotes and lessons learned from a range of QA mistakes. Let's explore the pitfalls I encountered and the insights gained along the way.

 

 

Mistake 1: Assumption Trap

Early in my career, I relied on assumptions, convinced that I understood the project requirements and scope. Later I found that by adopting a product manager's mindset, I could contribute to the creation of better, more functional products.

I remember on a project, I assumed the behavior of a crucial functional requirement without cross-validating it with the development team. During testing, defects revealed themselves one after another. It was a pivotal moment, a revelation that struck me like a bolt of lightning.

From that point forward, I recognized the importance of thinking like a product manager. I started to ask the right questions, challenge assumptions, and collaborate with stakeholders throughout the development process.

Embracing my role as an unofficial product manager, I strived to understand the intricate details of the product. I delved into user needs and technical constraints, and engaged in conversations to seek clarity and share insights.

This transformation led to extraordinary discoveries. I unearthed gaps, uncovered latent risks, and gained an intimate understanding of the product's functional landscape. By blending the responsibilities of a tester and a product manager, I emerged with comprehensive knowledge and a relentless focus on meeting user expectations.

Lesson learned: To level up in software testing, one must embrace the thinking like a product manager. Embrace the art of asking questions, challenging assumptions, and fostering collaboration with stakeholders. You'll become a formidable force, propelling the creation of exceptional products that fulfill functional requirements and delight users.

 

Mistake 2: Neglecting Exploratory Testing

In my quest for efficiency, I once fell into the trap of relying solely on scripted test cases. While following a structured approach is essential, neglecting exploratory testing limited my ability to uncover unexpected issues and think critically about the product's behavior.

During a project where I focused on executing predetermined test cases, a significant bug slipped through undetected. This incident served as a wake-up call. By exploring the software from different angles and adopting a curious mindset, I discovered defects that scripted tests had missed.

Lesson learned: Strike a balance between scripted testing and exploratory testing. The latter allows for creativity, adaptability, and the discovery of hidden issues that scripted tests may overlook.

 

Mistake 3: Testing in Isolation

Early in my career, I tended to test in isolation, focusing on my assigned tasks without engaging with the development team. This approach limited my understanding of the product and prevented me from collaborating effectively with other team members.

I soon realized that to elevate my testing efforts, I needed to break out of this isolated mindset. By immersing myself in their discussions, understanding their implementation approaches, and gaining insights into the inner workings of the code, I was able to spot potential issues early on.

In one particular project, during a routine development team meeting, a developer mentioned an upcoming change to the one module. Based on my knowledge of the product and the code, I immediately recognized a potential issue that could arise from this change. By raising the concern during the discussion, we were able to address the issue promptly, avoiding a potential issue.

This experience taught me the value of actively participating in development discussions and coordinating closely with the team. By doing so, I gained a comprehensive understanding of the product, the code implementation, and potential points of failure. It also fostered a collaborative environment where we could identify and address issues before they manifested into significant problems.

Lesson learned: Actively involve yourself in development discussions and coordinate closely with the team. By understanding the product inside out and familiarizing yourself with the code implementation, you can proactively identify and raise potential bugs or vulnerabilities, contributing to a more robust and secure product.

 

Mistake 4: Trying to Automate Everything

Automation is a powerful tool in software testing, but my early enthusiasm led me to believe that everything should be automated. This resulted in wasted effort and a failure to identify areas where manual testing was more effective or necessary.

In a project where I attempted to automate every aspect, I found myself struggling to maintain and update an extensive test suite. Additionally, I overlooked the need for exploratory testing and failed to uncover critical issues that required a human perspective. It was a humbling experience that taught me the importance of strategic test automation.

Lesson learned: Approach test automation strategically. Identify areas where automation adds value and enhances efficiency, while acknowledging the need for manual testing and exploratory approaches to address unique challenges and uncover hidden defects.

 

Mistake 5: Reusing the Same Test Data

In the early stages of my testing journey, I had a habit of reusing the same test data across multiple test cycles. This practice led to misleading test results and an inaccurate representation of the product's behavior.

By reusing test data without resetting or generating fresh data, I inadvertently introduced inconsistencies that impacted the reliability of my tests. It was a wake-up call when defects slipped through the cracks due to the reliance on outdated test data.

Lesson learned: Test data is a critical component of accurate testing. Develop a solid test data strategy that includes generating fresh data for each test cycle and ensuring the test environment reflects real-world scenarios. By avoiding the reuse of test data, you can enhance the reliability and effectiveness of your testing efforts.

 

Conclusion 

A career in software testing requires embracing the mistakes that come along the way. I myself have learned the importance of avoiding assumptions, embracing exploratory testing, fostering collaboration, approaching automation strategically, utilizing fresh test data, actively participating in development discussions, and thinking like a product manager. By sharing these stories, my hope is to inspire fellow testers to learn from mistakes and improve their skills. Remember, it is through mistakes that we grow and evolve into more effective testers.

Happy Testing!

Naman Garg

Written by Naman Garg

Manual and Automation Tester | Quality Promoter | Technology Leader | Lifelong Learner | Software QA Engineer | Product Manager | Scalable Product Builder | Robust Solution Creator | Business Goal Achiever | Social Volunteer