How I Became A Sole Software Tester And How The Ministry of Testing Continuously Makes Me a Better Tester

by Irene Herrero

Earlier this year, in May, I was lucky enough to win a Pro membership sponsored by PractiTest. Having access to all the great resources in the MoT Dojo has been invaluable these last months.

My journey to becoming a Software Tester

Like most testers I slowly transitioned to the role of software tester. About 3.5 years ago I started at my company as a working student. My job was to assist the Project Managers (PMs) and I did that by asking questions and by doing most of the acceptance testing that our PMs needed to do for their projects. I was pretty much already a tester to be honest. I quickly became the “go to” person for testing in the company. Sadly, I got less involved in the earlier phases of projects because I was only a “tester” now. They are supposed to work at the end of the process, right?

Then our company went through a bit of a shift. We started to adopt Agile practices, we changed focus and the numbers in our team were reduced. We had a lean team and the goal was to survive. I hoped I could use the mentality of change and show people how you could shift testing left and how I could help in more activities than “just” testing. Soon after that, in April 2020, I started full time as Quality Assurance Manager to do exactly that with the additional time I now had.

How MoT helped me overcome many struggles

Before I started full time, I had another working student to help me with testing activities. I planned most of them but it was so important having another tester there to challenge your assumptions, to give feedback and to be able to understand your pains and achievements. He stopped working there in October 2019, and I knew I would miss him as a partner in crime, but I did not anticipate feeling lonely in between my programmer teammates this soon.

I needed other testers to talk to, and this is when I found the Ministry of Testing. I took part in some Masterclasses, read some forum entries and quickly realised that these problems I was having were completely normal. My downfall is that I am a perfectionist and I want every detail to be perfect. I remember that I often thought that I was letting my team down and was really disappointed in myself if I didn’t manage to do every testing activity or if I would miss important bugs. I know now, as every tester needs to know, it is impossible to find all the bugs and you will never be able to test everything. And even more important, everyone in the team is responsible for the quality, so it’s not my “burden” alone. Even though this should be completely obvious, I needed to be told this truth by other testers to fully realize it.

Without the MoT community I probably would have never tried to take on the full time position as sole tester in April this year, fighting the fight for quality. It helped me believe in my skills again and I now have really great testers I could talk to and ask for help if I encountered a problem. I am really thankful for this and all the amazing testers I was able to meet.

Why the Ministry of Testing Pro Membership is just amazing

After being in the MoT community I felt that having discovered the MoT as a young tester was great. Being able to chat with other like minded people in the MoT Slack is super great. Being able to learn from great testers in the Masterclasses and the AMA sessions, mega great. But damn, there was so much content in the dojo that I wanted to watch, and that people were telling me about, but I was missing a Pro membership to be able to watch them. But the great people from MoT and PractiTest seemed to know that I would need the dojo knowledge to improve my fight for quality at my company, because it was announced that you could win a Pro membership. So I wrote my story, how I love testing, how I struggle with being a sole tester without anyone to learn from and how I need to fight everyday to prove my worth. Fast forward a few weeks and I actually won the membership! I still remember how I ran to our garden that day, when I was told, and did air jumps in the rain.

More than 6 months have passed since then, and I have to say, it is great to have access to all the resources with the Pro membership. I remember the first class I watched was Syad Ali’s VR Testing Basics Masterclass. Our main test complexity is that we test mainly in VR so that was the first topic I searched for and I was not disappointed. I can recommend that class if you are new to VR testing by the way. The second topic I was interested in most was test planning and test strategies. I had my own way of planning the testing, and I already had some good ideas about how to do it, but it was really helpful watching those classes and applying the new learnings to my work style. It was also helpful to be able to rewatch some of the classes I had already watched live, and pick up on things that I may have missed at the time.

The topic I was, and still am, interested in most is communication. As a sole tester and quality advocate I want my team to, slowly but surely, work more quality oriented. To do that we need to try out new things once in a while to find a way of work that suits us and gives us more confidence in our product quality. But my team is very reluctant to change, due to the big changes that the Corona virus introduced in all our lives and due to our company trying out new goals every quarter, which means it’s always a big chaos when that happens. So every time I tried to suggest a change to our work process, albeit small, my team was not happy, and I was not happy either because I was shot down almost immediately! Then I watched a talk about exactly this topic. I don’t remember the name, but they talked about the alpha and the beta protocol. Basically when you have people using the alpha protocol, one person suggests something, and the second person directly attacks the idea, forcing the first person to defend their idea. This was the exact situation I found myself in a lot and this situation almost never leads to finding a compromise. Then there is the beta protocol, where the second person considers the idea first and wants to know how this suggestion could be beneficial to the team and both parties are more inclined to find a compromise. I knew I could not change my teammates' reactions, but I now knew to look out for these protocols and especially who to talk to.

What the future may bring

It’s part of my job to find solutions for problems, but I am really happy to know that I have the MoT community and the whole MoT dojo to help me fill the gaps of missing knowledge or experience. I am really happy that PractiTest sponsored my pro membership and I intend to use it as best I can as long as it lasts! I know that I definitely need to try out these 99-minute workshops that I haven’t had the opportunity to do yet!

Regarding my general testing career, thanks to the Ministry of Testing I know that Software Testings is the right path for me right now. I am a curious person and there is a lot that I still haven’t done as a tester, and I am looking forward to taking on new challenges and to grow as a tester in the future. And I really hope that someday, this pandemic is finally under control and I can attend a real life test bash and see all you great people there too.

A quick bio

Hello! I’m Irene and I have been a tester for about two years now. You already have read how this came to be, so here I want to tell you more about me as a person in general.

Like most of you, I am super curious and I love trying out new things. I love solving riddles, doing exit rooms, playing detective, playing games, digital as well as analog, where I can do all those things and more. And I enjoy doing these things even more if I can do them together with my friends. This is probably also why I like gamifying everything that would be boring otherwise. I personally think, when you can do serious tasks in a way that’s more fun then the output will always be better. And I like hot chocolate. I need my hot chocolate in the morning like others need their coffee. I am telling you, hot chocolate is the secret recipe for happiness. :)