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InfoQ Homepage News Transitioning to Modern Testing: How Testers Can Stop Being the Training Wheels for Teams

Transitioning to Modern Testing: How Testers Can Stop Being the Training Wheels for Teams

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Traditional testing, where testers act as safety nets and testing is separated from implementation, can have a detrimental impact on quality. Testers can instead act as coaches, collaborate in teams, and foster change, to stop becoming the training wheels for teams.

Conor Fitzgerald will speak about transitioning from traditional to modern testing at the Romanian Testing Conference 2022. This conference will be held June 16-17.

Testers can increase value and reduce waste, and ultimately help teams be more effective. Fitzgerald refers to the 3Ss and 3Cs, where he encourages testers to move toward the 3 Cs and move away from the 3 Ss.

The 3 Ss are:

  1. Safetynet. Unfortunately, testers can act as safety nets by testing the output of a team, maintaining all the test automation or having specialist project knowledge. Testers need to be aware of this and think about how these activities can become team-based.
  2. Solo. Following on from the above point when we go solo we are compounding the issue of being a safety net. For example, knowledge of how to test a feature that is not shared with the team can be harmful to the team’s growth.
  3. Static. We are in an industry that is continually changing. Thus we must embrace change and adapt. We should ask ourselves, how I have changed in my role as a tester compared to 6 or 12 months ago?

The 3 Cs are coaching, collaborating and change. According to Fitzgerald, testers are often the training wheels for the team:

We must always be thinking about when we can remove the training wheels and ensure the team can be fully independent.

According to Fitzgerald, high-performing companies take a transformational leadership approach. Culture is key, particularly that the environment provides psychological safety. At a team lead/manager level we must have regular career-focused 1:1s with our team members where we can map out where they are going and set goals. This needs to be supported by investment in our people through coaching, training, and engagement with the wider community including attendance at conferences. Of course, this needs to be coupled with autonomy and the chance to do interesting work, Fitzgerald argues.

InfoQ interviewed Conor Fitzgerald about applying the Modern Testing Principles.

InfoQ: What approaches can help to deliver better quality?

Conor Fitzgerald: Accelerate and The Modern Testing principles have shown us that teams that test their code and drive the automation efforts are amongst the best approaches to accelerate the achievement of shippable quality.

InfoQ: What valuable skills do testers have and how can they apply those skills more effectively?

Fitzgerald: It’s probably clichéd yet true that testers bring a range of skills that include critical thinking skills.

Yet we often overlook the fact that testers can be catalysts for positive change within teams, helping them mature the quality culture of a team. Testers can often be fantastic communicators and collaborators, these skills can lead to better relationship building, planning, stand-ups and retros.

We also often overlook the technical skills testers can bring in relation to improved tooling. Often it’s a tester who will know performance or security tooling. Sharing these with teams is invaluable, particularly when we integrate these tools into our pipelines.

Finally, it is often said that testers are customer-focused. Many testers indeed have empathy for the customer. Although it shouldn’t be forgotten, this is not just limited to testers and that developers, UX and product managers care just as much.

InfoQ: How can we support testers and create conditions for testers to "do good"?

Fitzgerald: One of the key conditions for testers to do good is to have a culture of whole team testing. Whereby the team is committed to quality and takes responsibility for various testing activities.

To support developers in this transition we need to reduce the team’s Work In Progress(WIP) and focus on small frequent batches of shippable code, this creates a more favourable environment for developers to do good.

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