Recently, we caught up with one of our Test Managers, Paul Vinten, to find out about life as a software tester…
How did you get into software testing?
There aren’t many people who grew up saying ‘I want to be a software tester’. People generally start their careers in IT as a tester, as a step towards development, or, like me, just fall into it.
I was working for an insurer as a property claims handler. After quite a few years, I was starting to get itchy feet. Having been put forward to work on a project to implement a new claims handling platform, I was placed in the User Acceptance Testing team. Slowly but surely I started to learn the ropes of UAT and grew with the project, until it’s completion back in early 2014.
As the project drew to a close, I had a choice to make. Did I want to build a career as a tester, or did I want to go back to my old job?
Honestly, it was a no brainer. I’d learned so much working as a tester on an agile project, there was no way I was going back to my old job. It was time to move on, and onward I moved.
I moved to a software house, where I became ISTQB certified. I had a great time there, mainly testing retail software and learning more technical skills. But after a while it was time to move on again. Eventually I found myself working at a software house in Whiteley, where I met Dan, before joining Zentive.
What challenges have you faced in the role?
A software tester can face any number of challenges. Sometimes there are unexpected bugs, sometimes a fix in one area has broken something else, sometimes there are time pressures. And sometimes it’s a mix of all of these and other things…
One of the more interesting products I’ve worked on was a point of sale hardware/software combo for a high-end fashion retailer. Sounds simple, right? Well, no, not really. The retailer was based in Seoul Airport, and the entire front end was written in Korean. Testing applications with multiple languages is interesting enough when you’re using the western alphabet. When you start testing in Hangul, life gets very interesting indeed…..
I once had a conversation with a product owner about a bug that I found when clicking in what seemed to be an irrelevant part of a system, resulting in fields being displayed that then couldn’t be removed without a full shut down and application restart! The product owner told me “yeah, but no-one would ever click there”. My response, “you’ve obviously never been bored working in a call centre”. Funnily enough, that one got fixed.
Sorry for the noise…..
I’m sure a few of our developers will shudder at the memory of this, but one of my favourite projects was testing VBTTN Bluetooth buttons with our Checkon.Me application.
I had to make sure that buttons would beep when removed from range of a phone, that buttons would beep when SOS calls were made. At one point, I particularly enjoyed flinging the buttons up in the air to test the fall/impact function. The testing was fun, and the 200+ steps to leave the phone’s Bluetooth range, meant I got plenty of exercise. That was handy, because on more than one occasion, I thought I might have had to run for my life from co-workers annoyed by constant beeping….
What does an average day look like?
No two days as a tester are the same. A day could include building a new platform with Spring Tools Suite, figuring out test scenarios and writing scripting tests against the UI, or webservices/APIs. Other days can involve retesting defects and managing items in Jira to closure. Or throwing Bluetooth buttons around and trying not to get punched.
What is the end goal as a Software Tester?
The key thing any tester should remember is that we are part of a wider team, and have a key role to play within it. We apply a critical mindset to a product, to ensure that we find any issues before the end customer does.
We’re not here just to moan, we’re here to offer alternative user flows, and we’re here to help our customers when they find issues. We’re here to give feedback to developers and product owners, and sometimes we even give positive feedback. Ultimately, we’re here to make sure that the software we release is good enough to put the Zentive name on.
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