One of the difficulties of being a software tester is that when you’re doing your job really well, it’s unnoticeable! Unlike software developers, who are creating a product that will then be seen by management, software testers create tests that will help validate that the product is working correctly. When we do a great job, it’s not clear what the difference is between the product that would have gone out to production if we hadn’t found all the bugs, and the product that actually did go out to production.
The problem with not being seen by management is that it becomes difficult to advance in one’s career. Fortunately there are four different ways that we can make sure that our managers and others see the impact we are making.
Make sure that you are letting your manager know all of the ways you are helping to make a great product. For example, in your daily stand-up meeting, you could say “I found an important bug yesterday in the chat feature that would have kept users from accessing their chat window if it went to production.”
Also be sure to mention whenever your test automation catches a bug: “Our automated regression suite caught a critical bug on the User Info page shortly after the change was deployed to the QA environment.”
Managers love dashboards and metrics. Remember that managers often have their own managers to whom they need to report. If you can make your manager’s job easy by providing them clear data about the quality of your application, they will be very grateful.
For example, you could create a dashboard that shows the pass/fail rates of your nightly regression tests. This dashboard could show the different environments you are testing in, and ideally it should show that the passing rates in your Production environment are near 100% because the automation found the bugs well before the new code made it to Production.
Or you could start keeping metrics of escaped defects: these are bugs that made it to Production without being noticed. Ideally the number of escaped defects will be zero, but even if it isn’t, your metrics for each release can demonstrate that your team is getting better at releasing bug-free code.
Having lots of great software testing skills is awesome, but what is even more awesome is teaching those skills to others in your company so they will be as effective as you are. Your company probably has a number of different ways that you can teach others testing-related skills. For example:
* Talking about an automated test framework you are using in a departmental meeting
* Leading a workshop for other testers about how to adopt the test framework
* Mentoring a new or struggling tester
Your manager can’t see you as a leader if you don’t speak up! One great way to lead is to suggest process improvements for your team during your Sprint Retro meeting. When your team adopts those ideas and sees the quality of your product improve as a result, you’ll be seen as a positive change agent.
Setting up a Community of Practice (CoP) meeting is also a great way to stand out as a leader. In the meeting, all the testers at your company can gather together and share ideas and solve problems. If your company already has a CoP meeting, volunteer to lead a discussion or talk about an innovation that your team recently adopted.
Common Objections to Being Seen:
Software testers are often introverts. Many of them enjoy working quietly, testing features and writing automation without much interruption from others. Some prefer not to be the center of attention. It’s OK to feel this way, but it will not get you promoted!
If you are shy or fear public speaking, start out by making small improvements. You could begin by creating a blog post or test dashboard. Then you could try adding one comment in each Sprint Retro meeting. Next, you could volunteer to demo a new feature at a meeting. You can continue to add small steps in this way until you feel comfortable enough to run a workshop.
Software development processes have come a long way in the past two decades; there are very few managers today who don’t understand the importance of software testing. But they may not notice your contributions to your product unless you make sure to be seen. I hope that the above suggestions will help you show your manager what a great asset you are to your team.