Testing is not Repetitive – Part 1

When I first started my career in Software Testing (about 7 and a half years ago now) one of the most common phrases I would hear is that “testing is a repetitive job”.  It wasn’t uncommon to read job descriptions with the statement “the candidate doesn’t mind doing repetitive work”.  At that time I didn’t know any better – I mean here were people with tons of experience and skills, who knew a lot more about the profession than me, so I believed it (at that point I didn’t have any real experience or knowledge about the profession).

This false belief/statement didn’t hold true in my mind for long.  At my second job (about 6-7 months into my career) I had picked up fast and started to work on many different types of applications.  I hadn’t yet read much content or books about Software Testing but I quickly realized that the uses of each type of application were different from each other and that the user would interact differently depending on the type of application, and that different applications may be subject to different rules and regulations. These were the applications I was now testing.  I was working at a company developing and distributing mobile content – games, ringtones, wallpapers, mobile web pages.  I was testing all of these applications and the features within them on the different projects I was working on and I realized it didn’t make sense to test the same test cases for each type of application because the use cases for one type of application wasn’t really applicable in a different type of application.  It didn’t even make sense for me to execute the same test cases repeatedly for the same application – while I understood the need for regression testing, I wasn’t sure how much and when it should be done and if spending numerous hours and days executing the same tests over and over was actually increasing the quality of the software.

At this point I wasn’t yet aware of the context-driven school of testing and that it was an extremely skilled approach to testing to which some great & knowledgable Software Testers have contributed and that there was community of skilled context-driven Software Testers. I was aware that while some testing may be repetitive (this may actually Checking and not Testing – I won’t go into this difference in this post); skilled testing that required one to think and use their brain to be creative and learn about the technology behind the application in order to better test software was anything but repetitive.

Even after I came to this realization I would still hear that “testing is repetitive” and would often see this statement in job offers. I was even asked in a few job interviews during those times if I was willing to do repetitive work – even though I knew I was a tester who did just more than execute tests over and over based on test scripts I wrote, I would still answer yes – at that time I didn’t yet have the confidence, skill set, experience and knowledge to say otherwise; to actually have a viewpoint of software testing that was different from somebody who had more experience than me who believed in that statement.

This was over 7 years ago now, a lot has changed – including my confidence level, skill set, experience and knowledge.  While I don’t read through as many job offer descriptions as I used to, I’ll still read over a select few from the ones I do receive – and one thing I don’t see often (if ever) is a statement along the lines of “repetitive work”.  I think a lot more people (although maybe not enough) within the Software/IT industry realize that Testing is actually a skilled & knowledgeable profession.

In Part 2 I’ll write about the things that made me realize early on in my career that I didn’t want to be a Tester that would execute test scrips over and over and define that as “Testing”.

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