After Julien and Thierry, Stéphanie Desby is the third french tester to kindly answer our questions. As you will see, she defines herself as a tester/developer, currently in the company Vidal France, a company specializing in information on health products and Securing the prescription.
Who are you, what are you doing, where are you working?
I am a tester/developer at Vidal France. I’m responsible for testing the REST APIs and installers we deliver to our customers. I also have the ownership of automating some of those tests, hence the “/developer”.
How would you describe your work to a 6-year-old?
My job is to do the best to not send broken applications to customers. In order to do this, I make sure that what we are doing matches what we have been asked and that it does not cause any problems.
Looking back, and if you were to start again as a tester, what advice would you give?
This is a difficult question. When I first became interested in testing, I found that there was little information about the tester job. Most of the literature is in English, which does not make things easier. The advice I would give is not to focus on certifications. When you start, you tend to believe that without a certification you can not be a tester because it is the only benchmark we have.
But to be a tester, I think the most important thing is to be curious. There is a huge variety of testing resources available: podcasts, videos, forums.
And above all, do not hesitate to get your hands on any testing you can. For example, you can take part in alpha-tests or game beta-tests. There are also paid platforms where you can register and test websites or applications. It is very formative and in addition to acquiring skills, it allows to cross some software always good to put on a CV like Jira or Mantis.
If you were to recruit a tester, what would you look for in a candidate for this role?
I would look for someone who shows an ability to question things, not someone who takes everything he hears for granted, and who does not hesitate to ask questions. Something we like to do in recruitment is to pose a problem in a blurry manner, sometimes with contradictory instructions from each of the team to see how the candidate reacts.
I would also pay attention to his attention to details, his ability to explain what he is doing and to interpret the results.
Tell us an anecdote of your life as a tester (good or bad time, incredibly hard bug to reproduce or analyse …)
It was a difficult time at Vidal. We had to deliver a customer in an emergency, I had to test an installer and everyone was waiting for me to finish and give the verdict. Can I deliver this installer?
It was a very big push. It was not long since I was working at the company, it was just my baptism by fire.
In short, I start my tests and there by launching the product, I realise a huge trick. I can not remember exactly what, but basically it did not work at all! General panic! I call the whole team in, I show them, I explain them, I agitate in every way, in a manner “end of the world”.
The Product Owner and Lead dev look at my environment and smile: I had not configured my test environment correctly.
I felt stupid on the spot, but I’m lucky to work with a great team, I mean I was just relieved to have been mistaken, and I was able to continue my tests. But I learned on that day that we must not give in to panic, or at least learn to master it.
A lesson that I strive to apply everyday and in all areas!
What makes you worse about misconceptions about testing?
The fact that many people think it’s an easy job. Once I was even told “Do we pay people to do this?”.
It’s not an easy job. It requires a lot of skills in many areas: oral, written, organisational skills, a sense of observation and details, a good understanding of what you do and the ability to learn quickly. It also requires to fight against oneself, the famous cognitive biases which you mentioned in an article that I warmly recommend. It is a difficult and intellectually stimulating exercise. The anomalies must be identified, the investigation must be carried out to determine their origin, and we need to explain what has been observed to the members of the team as clearly as possible (and it is not as easy as it seems!). Let’s not forget to mention the automation side which requires, in addition, much more technical skills.
What challenges do you face as a tester in a software product team? And how do you overcome them?
My biggest challenge is that I have to be everywhere at once. I am the only tester in a team where there are sometimes 2 sprints and what we call “the thread of water”, that is to say the management of what happens in production and releases to come up. So I’m constantly juggling those universes.
It is hard to give all your energy for each of those two sides: preparation of projects, writing of test scenarios, exploratory tests, automation of tests, etc.
To help you, the Example Mapping technique in our equivalent of the 3 amigos (called Grooming Session). By writing the rules of each functionality together, one ensures that everyone has understood the same thing. And when the feature has been developed, anyone can take over those rules and verify that the functionality responds to them.
Do you have models, people inspiring you (testers or not)?
Already, I admire people who are able to give time and energy to share their knowledge with others. I have a blog, parlonstest, but I have a hard time keeping a proper rhythm so those who are able to do it really have my respect. So thanks to Lyon Testing for his blog!
Then, for people who inspire me, if I have to quote names, I would say that I love reading the blog of Huib Schoot. I find his articles relevant and less time consuming and difficult to read than others.
Otherwise I get resources here and there that allow me to take notice and move forward but I do not know if we can really talk about model.
How do you keep learning?
I go to conferences, trainings. I do not hesitate to ask for help from my company which luckily supports me in this process.
In the test world, many things happen, but almost always outside our borders. But Brighton with the TestBash or Berlin with Agile Testing Days are not that far away and are worth the investment!
Then there are the podcasts (Let’s talk about test baby!, Test Talks), youtube channels such as White board testing and the very good site Ministry Of Testing which also offers a forum: The Club and a Dojo full of resources to learn!
Cite one or more tools that have become essential to you?
Postman to make the API Rest test, it really is an indispensable tool! It allows you to do your queries, analyse answers, add tests and save everything. In addition to registering, you can find your requests from any workstation, share them with your team, etc.
Truly an essential that I use everyday. In addition it evolves often and the added features are all useful and documented in their blog.
What revolution should the testers prepare?
I believe that the major issue of the moment is in succeeding to explain to the teams that automation is not an end in itself. It is a tool which is there to make life easier for everyone, but automating checks does not mean to get rid of the testers. The machine will only just do everything it is told to do. There are a lot of managers today who have a hard time understanding this and not pushing it all towards automation as if it were the guarantee of the zero bug, which is a myth.
Thanks Stéphanie. Do not hesitate to comment if you want to continue the debate on one of the subjects. We will have another guest in the upcoming weeks.