In this series I would like to show my view on:
how is the relationship between skills in other professions and in testing.
(Well, actually since I believe that everybody tests at any time - at least unknowingly - it is no real comparison)
Since my profession is that of a tester (yes, you read correct, I truly identify myself as tester), I will let others speak for their profession. Reason is: they know probably better which skills are the important ones. I will try later also to assess from my opinion, but why not let someone involved in the material speak first? My task is to find the best sources and list them here.
I am sure there are other views than what I got in my fingers - if you find a better one (there is always a better version) tell me please.
Dr. Ulrike Hennemann tells in her article “Is my doctor a good doctor?” how patients can check themselves for the quality of their medical care, because:
many people would - so she tells - ask themselves if the doctor they confide in matters of precaution or in case of illness masters really the craft. From the following, people can not read the knowledge and skills: that the doctor is friendly, wears always a fresh ironed white coat or offers a comfortable waiting room.
She then lists the following points of a good doctor:
- being up to date in the area of expertise
- take care for the patients
- make correct diagnoses
- select the correct therapy according to the circumstances
- transfer early enough to a specialist
being up to date in the area of expertise
- she tells that patients can ask their doctor, if s(he) regularly takes part in further education. She tells that the doctor might look first piqued, but should understand this and see it as positive.
What would you answer as tester, if you are asked, if you regularly do something for your education (in testing)?
Thanks to the internet there is many good material available. You just have to reserve the time. It really is so simple. So, now there is no excuse anymore for you.
Testing may seem as a simple task for outsiders, but we testers know it is much more. We have so much to learn and so many ways to evolve. Start this by educating yourself as soon as possible. You are the one who is responsible for your education - no one else will take care for it.
take care for the patients
- Does the doctor listen carefully? address the issue appropriate on questions? explains the examination and therapy recommendations? Do you leave the doctor with the good feeling that your issue was taken seriously and the doctor did the best possible for you?
Dr. Hennemann tells, when she has to go to a doctor it is for her important, that she does not have to wait too long. She tells that has not directly something to do with the quality of the doctor, but indirect:
if a doctor values on behalf of the patients and his/her team on time scheduling, probably (s)he also is good in the above 5 points.
So, let’s find out, who would be actually our patients? In the patient doctor scenario, the patient comes to the doctor to get help.
Who do we help as testers?
There are different groups whom we help: our stakeholders and/or our colleagues, our friends + family (I mean testing does not stop, when we leave office), ourselves - pretty much anybody :-)
I also would go so far, that we help our test object. It comes to us and asks for help, but then somehow is ashamed - after we find so many problems - to tell all its flaws. Sometimes it is also just to make our time worth while, it brings us to different problems, so that our life even gets more interesting and challenging. So, why not help in return the test object by making it even better for these favors?
Do you always take appropriate care for the people/test objects coming to you? Do they come back again to search for your advise? Think about it, do they thank you, appreciate you?
make correct diagnoses
- if a therapy was successful, most of the time the diagnosis also was correct. But also experienced, good educated doctors do not get the assessment about the causes of the symptoms correct always right at first. There are ways to prevent unneeded expensive examinations. For smaller pains, doctors can use your telling and simple examination methods (e.g. listen with the stethoscope, scanning with their hand the part of the body) to pose first a suspected diagnosis, which is most likely and start after this the first treatment try.
Imagine 2000 years ago as doctor the technical possibilities were limited. Therefore medical thinking and acting was based on correct interpretation of signs of the body. Do you have all the technical equipment you need/wish?
As testers we always have less time than we want. In such a case wasting the time with unneeded tests can be painful (also for your stakeholders). Take advantage of all your information sources you have. Observe everything and infer from these. When you collect and analyze, you get closer to the solution of the problem. You should always seek for a logical/qualitative reason for your assumptions.
Start to question yourself always, is this really correct what I do? Is there not a better way to find the most critical problems? Trust your instinct, but also take advise. If possible start a journal - so you are forced to reflect on your decisions. What went wrong or was good? And why? Also: the better diagnoses you pose, the more credibility you will have.
select the correct therapy according to circumstances
- if for a certain time the first treatment try was not successful, more detailed and expensive technical methods are used (e.g. ultrasound) to find the cause for the symptoms.
- But doctors should be allowed also to make mistakes. It is not uncommon that even skilled doctors do not see the cause immediately and therefore not start the correct therapy. In such a case visit again your doctor, so (s)he can analyze this more.
The first diagnose is important, but how to proceed then? Each patient is different and needs different approaches/methods. So, how can we treat/cure/minimize our patients problems? The more experience you have, the more ways you know to have a direct or indirect influence on others/other things. You can help then depending on the context.
Also by giving them good bug reports, we give them help to identify the main problems. I mean, finding bugs is essential, but what, if the bugs aren’t communicated good enough? So the bugs would then be not known or fixed fast enough? As testers we give as much info as possible as soon as possible to identify the critical bugs. So, let’s do this in the best way possible.
Here are links, how to write good bug reports and to convince the reader of the bug report to fix them:
Cem Kaner, Effective bug reporting (slides, video)
What always helps is to understand, that quality is everybody’s matter - only together as team a good product will be released.
transfer early enough to a specialist
- as a patient you can hardly assess when the time has come that you are transferred to a specialist. But you can set the impulse yourself, when your pain does not go away, ask your doctor to be transferred. If your doctor does not agree, (s)he surely will tell the reasons.
So, you are like the rest of us: you make errors or you do not know everything?
If you have made an error, admit this and try to do the best to rescue the situation, otherwise you will lose credibility. Also: we are just humans, we can not see/catch every Darwin bug.
- [So, what is a Darwin bug?
- Some bugs (I call them Darwin bugs ) are difficult to find by us and other bugs are easily found. The bugs compete with each other to come to life. So what makes the Darwin-bugs better than the others? What do they have? How does it happen that they pass all the barriers? What are their characteristics?]
Humans are not God, so show your lack of knowledge instead of showing false mastery, which will lead to unhappiness on both sides. Actually don’t the Alcoholics Anonymous also tell: “My name is … and I am an alcoholic.” So, if you do not know something, tell this also frankly: “I am tester … and I do not know this, please go to …”. You could add: “I will use my free time and improve my skill in that area, so I can help you better next time.”
Remember, in “The Hippocratic Oath” (from 400 B.C.) it is written:
“… I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art. …”
This was a way of risk minimizing for the doctor.
In the old times besides ethical reasons also monetary reasons played a role for this. It would have been bad for the reputation of the doctor to worsen the illness with a wrong treatment.
In her article Dr. Hennemann also lists a checklist for “How to recognize a good doctor’s practice?”.
- is a doctor and editor-in-chief for Medical Tribune
- printed in:
- Medical Tribune, Gesundheit & Medizin
- title: “Ist mein Arzt ein guter Arzt?” (engl. “Is my doctor a good doctor?“)
- page 41-43
- December 2006, Medical Tribune Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
- Wiesbaden, Germany
- Cem Kaner, “Effective bug reporting” (Tutorial session) 15th International Software Quality Conference (Quality Week), San Francisco, CA, September, 2002.
- Wikipedia about The Hippocratic Oath
- There’s a new book that was recently released in the United States titled “How Doctor’s Think”. by Dr. Jerome Groopman. This book explores how doctors diagnose medical problems and what can be done to reduce bad judgement.
- I have just started reading the book and find that good thinking applies to both software testing and medicine. There is much in this book that applies to us testers.
- I blogged about a radio interview with Dr. Groopman at http://qualityfrog.blogspot.com/2007/04/how-doctors-think.html
- Ben Simo
Author: Erkan Yilmaz (2007-03-04)