Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The We in Weltschmerz

As a tester, it's easy to focus on the negative. It's in the nature of what we do. You might not be able to prove the the software is defect-free but you can, and we do, spend much of our time and effort on looking for the problems that we expect will exist in it.

Constantly finding issues can lead you to think that your dev team, your boss, your process, your software, your company, the sandwiches in the canteen, the fashion for colourful jeans and life itself are pointless. You need to find a way to keep those feelings in check. Except for the one about colourful jeans.

But how?

Listen to feedback from your customers. Talk to your sales and post-sales teams and find out what customers are saying about the software, how they are adding value to their business, which features are most prized, what recent additions have saved them time and effort.

Remember that you're in the information generation business. It's your job, amongst other things, to give a balanced view of the status of the software at any given time to your stakeholders. Sure, you have to report the bad and give your analysis of the risk attached to it, but don't forget to give a view of the good too. Oftentimes you'll be able to report that core functionality is solid but the edges and corners are flaky. Oftentimes, this may be enough. Forcing yourself to report both sides can make a difference to your view.

Look back over a couple of major releases and let yourself realise what you've achieved, how much you've improved the product and how little the minor flaws that you know are there have actually impacted on your users.

Dark humour, but only with someone you can trust not to broadcast your doom-laden exaggerations around the company.

Write a blog full of trite obviousnesses and hope it takes the pain away. (It doesn't.)
Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


  1. James - I agree that a tester should look for things which will help or boost him / her to get back to his work.

    I think there are many ways a tester can breakdown his tedious work in small sessions, he can take breaks in between or just a walk for 10 mins.
    When i used to get pressure then i would take a walk just to feel fresh. I used to read my appreciation mails from client :-)

  2. Hi, yes I like to get out of the office for my dinner every day rather than eat at my desk for the same reason.

    I find that breaking tedious work down into small sections works best for me when I break it into logically similar parts rather than by periods of time, e.g. I'll say that I'll do all the tests in area X rather than that I'll test for 30 minutes. It seems to help focus.