Software Testing

10 Tips to improve your testing skills

To improve your testing skills follow the following tips. These tips are based on my experience in software testing.

Tip 1: Hunt for important bugs first and report them early

No one likes to miss important bugs. Programmers like to know about the high severity bugs before the other bugs. You should learn to find bugs that matter to the business. A bug that talks about a crash, missing functionality or incorrect functionality will be preferred over username not accepting more than 200 characters. Think of bugs which will get the programmers rush to your desk to see the bug. Hunt for such bugs as soon as you get the product.

Tip 2: Focus on root cause and not on symptom

Very few testers understand the difference between a symptom of a bug and the root cause of the bug. You might log a bug as soon as you find an unexpected behaviour. But this might not the only problem? What if the symptom is hiding the real problem? Whenever you find something unexpected, pause for a minute and think. Is this the only problem? Can there be more severe manifestation of this issue? Deep diving into the problem and finding the root cause will help in long run in fixing the issue completely.

Tip 3: Assign severity carefully

Severity and Priority are two fields in a bug report which are debated very often. For more detail difference between severity and priority refer my blog on the same. Before assigning severity to any bug, think carefully. Is the bug really a critical bug? Or is it a major bug but you wanted to impress your manager and increased the severity of the bug?

Tip 4: Investigate intermittent issues also

Every now and then, we testers encounter bugs which are hard to reproduce. It gives a lot of satisfaction to the tester when he is able to replicate the bug. More than the testers, the programmers will be more satisfied. It is usually hard to solve an intermittent problem compared to the one that is easily reproducible. Some testers take pride in investigating such issues more compared to those who think that the testers’ job ends at pointing out the issues.

Tip 5: Try to avoid duplicate bugs and highlight related bugs

As a tester, we can help the programmers/developers by going through the bug repository and check if the issue is already logged. This is a useful practice when multiple testers have worked on the same feature at different times of the project. You can avoid this if it takes a lot of time to go through the bug database. Consider the cost of avoiding a duplicate bug to the value gained by finding another bug. It is sometimes better to just log the bug. Let the programmer comment that it is a duplicate of another bug. But again, try to spend as much time as you can to avoid duplication. Also, highlight bugs which are related to each other.

Tip 6: Close bugs quickly and provide appropriate comments while closing bugs

Closing bugs quickly helps in knowing if the bug is really fixed and if it has introduced any new bugs. In most of the projects, decisions are based on the bugs in progress. As the bugs waiting for verification can turn into either a closed bug or re-opened bug and affect the decision, they need to be closed early. Closing bugs late in the cycle also gives more time for other bugs to hide.

Also,we should also note that appropriate comments by the tester during bug verification helps. It lets the programmer know of scenarios tested. If a scenario is missed, the tester can be informed immediately. Many testers write a one word – ‘Tested’ and close the bug. If the bug is closed, it is understood that it was tested. Folks are more interested to know the tests conducted during bug verification. The version in which the bug was tested, the environment or build used and so on.

Tip 7: Work on your skills – written and spoken

Communication is one of the important skills a professional must develop in additional to the technical skills. There is never a better time to work on the skills than now. As testers, we need to communicate regularly about the status of the product, project and any issues we face. There are multiple meetings that we need to attend. If our communication skill is not up to the mark, our reputation is affected to a great extent.

Tip 8: Keep it Simple & Short (KISS)

Email communication, meetings or even bug details should be kept simple and short.

Tip 9: Crisp, important things first

The first thing that usually strikes about any bug is the summary. Let the summary be crisp and highlight important stuff about the bug. There is a separate section for details – the description. For the summary, mention the problem first.

Tip 10: Detailed steps. Attachments

It is a good practice to provide detailed steps to replicate the bug so that anyone who reads your bug report can replicate the bug. Do not assume that the same programmer who coded the feature will fix the bugs. Key ingredients of a good bug report are

  1. Short and crisp bug summary
  2. Steps to reproduce.  It should include environment, build details
  3. Actual result
  4. Expected result
  5. Attachments – log file, screenshot to support.

When attaching a screenshot, highlight the area where you want the programmer to focus on. Avoid capturing areas which are unnecessary. 

Feel free to add any more tips you feel should come up here. 10 tips might increase to 15-20 tips.


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