Handling the Human Factor in Software Testing
A smooth running testing team functioning within a smooth running organisation are vital components in meeting difficult deadlines. Here are some of the most important elements that can help handle the human factor in software testing.
Being patient with the people that you work with can help smooth the rough spots and create allies. Remember, they’ve got a job to do and one of the best ways to help them do it is to show patience.
Common courtesy including being polite and respectful is almost a guarantee that people will be polite and respectful in return. It is also a major step on the road to being a team player. And it’s very important to remain polite and respectful in discussion threads at all times. You don’t know who is going to see your posts.
Stick to the job and get it done. Jump into a test cycle as quickly as possible, don’t wait until the last minute to tell people when you can’t finish something. Get your test results in as early as possible. Also, don’t be afraid to refuse to bite off more than you can chew. It’s okay to turn down a test cycle if you feel that you don’t have enough time. Set clear expectations, and over deliver wherever possible rather than over-promising and under-delivering. It won’t hurt your reputation and it shows that you are professional enough to know what you can and cannot do.
The Really Big Factor
The single biggest factor of all is communication. And good communication in the testing environment is based on literacy, listening and prioritising.
Literacy. This may seem like a given, but it’s very easy for well educated people to write like they are illiterate. The tendency to write using technical jargon and abbreviations should be resisted if your reports are going to be read by non-technical people. And don’t refer to ideas or situations without explaining what you are talking about, either on paper or in meetings. It annoys people.
Listen. The ability to listen will automatically set you apart not just as someone who cares, but as someone who’s smart. Smart people listen, it’s a common trait of intelligence and most people know it.
Prioritise. It’s very easy to get picky. Don’t dispute bugs or rejections, learn from them and move on. Consider it as constructive criticism. Save taking a stand for things that are really important.
With a little practice, it’s possible have a smooth running team by practicing a little common courtesy in software testing.