Thursday, April 22, 2010

Good Testers Vs Great Testers

Successful projects are a result of good people allowed to do good work.

Good testers are continually looking for ways the team can do a better job of producing high-quality software.

They help the developer and customer teams address any kind of issue that might arise.

Creativity, openness to ideas, willingness to take on any task or role, focus on the customer, and a constant view of the big picture are just some components of an effective testing mind-set.

Good testers have an instinct and understanding for where and how software might fail, and how to track down failures.

In my opinion the difference between a good tester and a great tester is that a great tester has the soft skills to influence and communicate in a manner that they become vital to the project, whether they are fighting their way in or are enthusiastically welcomed with an open door.

Let's be honest, not always will everything line up wonderfully for us so that we can do the great job that we know we can do. But blaming the project removes our ability to control and influence the situation so that we can bend to our will.

Great testing requires a toolbox full of soft skills, including:

  • Communication
  • Influencing
  • Negotiating
  • Stakeholder management
  • Emotional Intelligence

We often don't sufficiently prioritize the development of these skills in our testers. It's much easier to make the case for ISTQB training expenditure than a soft skill class.

However, if we are to develop great testers, we must invest in soft skills as well as technical testing knowledge.


  1. Testers often have a different skillset and come from different backgrounds than other people in the software industry. That can be leveraged to our advantage, and certainly, cultivating that is worthwhile.

    However, I've found that most people who are drawn to testing come with a certain mindset that includes the soft skills you mention naturally. It is easy to make a good tester- through training and experience. But great testers have the passion and drive to improve upon their natural skills daily.

    - Devon Smith

  2. I agree that great testers have the passion and drive to continuously improve their skills. They don't take competance as a given, but critically analyze their capabilities and seek opportunities and training to improve.

    Thanks for your comments Devon.

  3. Reminded me of a blog post of mine: