Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

Feb 1, 2022

What Career Moves Can You Make When You're The Solo Tester On Your Team? Here Are 3 Perspectives That Might Help.

"I'm a tester embedded within one team interacting with the same product at the same point in the process".

Sound familiar? Either you are or have been in that position. Or you know someone that is or was! Career development is a challenge for a solo tester. Which direction should you head in? Heck, what are the directions?! The options can seem daunting or opaque, especially if this is your first role.

Here are 3 perspectives you can take to find a way forward.

The people perspective

Never mind the technology, what about those pesky humans?!

You could focus on your team. Are you a team or a group of individuals? Which part of Tuckman's model are we in? You could coach individuals within the team to help them level up their testing? Or focus on how your customers are using your product or how the product helps them solve a problem.

Helping people get unstuck, individually or collectively, can be a game-changing skill set!

The technical perspective

When I said "never mind the technology", that wasn't quite true!

Tackling technical challenges is a lot of fun. It's become synonymous with browser-based GUI automation but it's waaay bigger than that!

Perhaps the highest level perspective we can take here is making our products easier to test. Part of the reason they're difficult to test is because of technical constraints. For example:

  • Can we test in small chunks or do we always need the entire system?

  • Can we get timely helpful feedback from our changes?

  • Can we control the state of our product?

  • How easy is it to understand what caused a problem and deliver a fix?

Eliminating these constraints, to enable more effective testing and improved quality is a lot of fun!

The business perspective

It's easy to get distracted from the actual purpose of the business!

Making the business operate more effectively, rather than efficiently, is the focus here. At the team level, that means finding better ways of working, eliminating waste and using the "North Star" to make tactical decisions.

If our processes help the team yet hurt our business, or teams are set against each other, we lose.

Increase your blast radius

You can make a wide impact as well as a deep one.

There are a couple of things I've noticed about people, the more experienced they become:

  • They start to deliberately impact across all three of the areas above.

  • They go broad and affect things beyond their immediate team.

As I've said before, these three areas are closely related. However, in the beginning, it could be useful for you to "niche down to blow up" by focusing on one area first.

Good luck!

Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

Welcome to my blog! I write about: Coaching 📈 Software Quality 🕵🏾 Agile 🔁

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