Thursday, June 17, 2010

Facebook listens to me :) and I win an iPad

Sorry for not being very active on the blog for some time. I have been real busy.

Proud tester felt a proud moment today. Facebook released the feature of liking the comments today on 17th June. Read more on it here:
So, why am I proud of it? Because I asked for it 5 days back on 12th June on Facebook. I updated my facebook status as "I like 'liking' the status messages. Dear Facebook, I'd like to 'like' the comments too. Too many excellent comments out there!!!" I am sure like me many others *may* have requested for it or the developer thought of it himself, but this doesn't make me any less happier.

As a tester, that too in an Agile team my job is not to be the last line of defense for my developers but to be able to support, provide information, and provide suggestions for enhancements or new features to the team.

So, this small moment of pride when my open suggestion was accepted by Facebook made me happy and I wanted to share with you. Being a tester, our job is to try to make things better: Either by getting the attention of the people who can fix it or by fixing it ourselves, if we have the knowledge and power.

And if some of you are unhappy about me writing about Sales and Social Media in my last post, I apologize. Both these subjects are also close to my heart as my day-to-day work involves around these. By the way, we had an internal blogging competition and I won an iPad...

Thanks to all you well wishers!!!

Happy Testing (making things better)!!!

FB me at

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Social Media : A Toruk to be tamed

Do you also feel that social media is a big waste of time? It certainly is if you don't know how to use it effectively and efficiently.

Social Media is one of the most effective ways for Sales and Marketing. It is 'THE' mode of communication among the masses. Its reach is unbounded, its potential unlimited... but are you prepared to tame the Toruk (remember Avatar)?

Please find my views on the topic at the link mentioned below and update your thoughts there:

Investing too much time on Social Media? How to boost your ROI.

Sales2.0 is much more than Sales with Social Media. Sales2.0 to me is "Making Sales better. Whatever it takes!!" Sales2.0 is 95% Sales, 5% technology

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If only Hyderabad was London...

Now that the volcanic ash ordeal is almost over as the Heathrow opens, I should not be hurting the sentiments of stranded travelers .As all of you know, last few days flights in and out of the UK and several other European countries had been suspended as ash from a volcano erupted in Iceland .

The world's third busiest airport Heathrow had come to the standstill and many passengers stranded. This was a huge business loss. And some of the great leaders in the industry were stuck in London too.

As we know time is the most precious gift of god to mankind, some of these people tried to make use of their time.
My guru James Bach offered to hold testing seminar for people near Oxford and wonderful opportunity to discuss testing over dinner with him for individuals. That was a killing man!!!

And also a group of intellectuals like who Jeff Sutherland, Uncle Bob Martin, Kevlin Henney, Tom Gilb, Roy Osherove and Steve Freeman who were also stuck, created a whole conference and named it Open Volcano - An ad-hoc conference in London triggered by Eyjafjallaj√∂kull.  The entry was free for many.

Now not being very selfish, but I would have loved to attend both of these events and learn. I believe best of the things in life come for free and rest all illusions have a fee. 

So this was the time when I wished if only Hyderabad was London. 

Hoping for a safe journey for all the passengers to their respective destinations.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Google's Innovation Factory (and how testing adapts)

Amazing!!!   This link deserved a post all to itself.

I am sure if you read my little blog, you must have read this article at Google Testing Blog. If not, here is it!!!

Google's Innovation Factory (and how testing adapts)

Truly inspiring...

1(!!!) Code Repository
All builds from HEAD...

I will have to go through it over and over to get the best out of it!!!

Hope you are inspired equally by going through the post...

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Tester's life : Career path of a tester

               I have been wondering about a tester's life. In this post you would find my opinion on my limited view of the tester's career path. This post may have been conceptualized in sub-conscious part of my tester mind. My ever inquisitive mind which wants me to always be prepared for the future to come, in preparing for the coming days. The question which has always been there in my mind and I have been asked by a few others, some times by my father, sometimes by my employers or prospective employers...
"Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?"

This post started as a guideline to the testers who have spent sometime in testing and ask the question to themselves. However at some moments I could not resist myself comparing testers to developers, because Testers are always pictured with developers, always compared against developers.

"This may seem a little harsh to the developers, but we testers are god's favorite children." -yours truly

 Testers have much more diverse career options to choose from and are better prepared for these roles.

Business Analyst
Since Testers get to know more about the broad view of the product and the domain in which the product falls, knowing about the ever changing requirements of business becomes more of a habit.
Testers get to interact with the end users more, who use it in their day-to-day lives. Testers get to know the various use cases that a developer can never dream of.

A good tester would make a very good Business Analyst. With MBA or without MBA, a good tester would surely make a good Business Analyst.

Product Manager
So you have worked a lot with product. You know much more about the product than others in the team. You are customer oriented, you know what customer's regular workflows are. You understand what affects customers more and what can be tolerated with work arounds.

You understand customer's business and you understand what feature or bug-fix is more important than other to the customer. You have read customer's mails that came as bugs. You were there when the best feature of your product was reverted back because the customer doesn't use your product the way you thought.

Long story short, Business acumen + knowing the product inside out makes you an ideal fit to grow into the role of Product Manager.

Technical Architect/Designer
You understand the architecture of your current system, you are a problem solver. You understand computer science concepts and business flow well.  This role is meant for you.

Marketing  or Sales Manager
You know all the features that your sales or marketing team boasts of. You have done multiple rounds of system testing. You understand the Requirements of New Features and you understand all the existing features. You have tested "what the product claims to do" and you have done the sales pitch testing.
With a passion for your product, with knowledge of the market space and competition, with a little charming personality and mental smartness, with good presentation and communication skills and armed with your knowledge (Broad Overview of product)  you can be the Sales Star or Marketing Guru of your product and company.

Usability Expert
You have always focussed on user friendliness of the product. You care about customers and understand that software is meant to help users and enable humans. You have seen and read customers using your product.

Usability Expert is one great career option that a tester can pursue.

Test Consultant
After practicing testing for a while and considering yourself master in exploring a known or unknown application and finding important information, uncovering potential threats to the product or users, you can start your own consulting practice.

You can be on your own, earning boundless income, and get to test varied products, applications work with different people. And you are mostly your own boss to choose these.

Testing (Managing) Manager
Beware testers!!! This seems to be the most easy jacket to fit into or rather was most easy to fit into but shrinking very fast now. Trying to manage people (which becomes more and more difficult with smarter people working as your subordinates). I read somewhere people should be influenced and work should be managed.

These kind of managing managers spend more time in micro-management, in world's largest software producer company's tools (excel and powerpoint)  than in their products.

Testing (Working) Manager (Manager 2.0)
These are the Managers or rather leaders who lead by example. These testers inspire by their action. They are testing, finding bugs, suggesting enhancements, suggesting design changes, learning new ways to be and make team more effective and efficient on day-to-day basis.
They are collaborating with testing team, development team, customers, product management constantly. The team grows mutually and gets mentored by this person.

The world is round. Tester has always the option of becoming a Developer.

Developer/ Programmer

My logical mind says since a tester knows most of the places where developers generally make mistakes, they should not make those mistakes at least and prove better developers.

However, it is found that testers write bad code for their own automation. I think this question's answer lies in human psychology. Who will Police the police? So a tester will become a very good programmer only if he/she knows the code is going to be tested by a good tester later. :)

As mentioned earlier this is my limited view. Reclaim your personal method and follow your own style. Feel free to add more to the list.

Addendum (14Apr2010, 1250 hrs IST):
I read my guru James Bach's view on the subject...

He wants to be an expert. I would say he already is. But that's what makes you an expert... always pushing the limits and being always in flow...  I have Kathy Sierra's graph on how to be an expert on my work desk.
Being an Expert is such a motivation... coz expertise is not a destination but the journey.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Proud Tester feels really proud this week

Two great reasons to be really proud.
  1.  I presented my company's flagship product at ITsAP (The IT and ITES association of AP) annual awards showcase. It was a proud moment to be representing the great organization that I work with.
           And the good news is our product - SalesView won the Best Software Product - MNC award.

           Here is a video of one of my interactions with media at our company's stall.

       2.    I have been mentioned in the living testing legend Mr. James Bach's blog. . The line that quotes me:
"Santosh Shukla blogged about a challenge I gave him and how he reacted to it."

Both of these achievements inspire me to dream more, seek more, and achieve more.

 Both of these good events happened on 13th March 2010.
 I am beginning to think if 13 is my lucky number? I joined Infosys, my first employer on 13th June 2005.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Certifications : Good or Bad

So, there has been a lot of confusion over this. I would restrict my opinion on the software testing certifications.
Here are my five+five cents on the topic:

Certifications are Good:
1. Certifications are good if you are looking for entry into an organization that values them so much so that these organizations even mention the certification requirement in the job profile. A good testing team of its worth would NEVER mention that in the job profile. (if they have a say...)

2. Certifications are good if while preparing for them, you reach out to the good information sources, read and understand them rather than the only prescribed study material.

3. Certifications are good if you are from the certification board (because this will fetch you a lot of moolah)

4. Certifications are good if you are like me. You treat certification date as a deadline and try to gain as much knowledge in the subject as possible before that date. Helps... (yeah yeah... I know internal motivation)
Does it sound a little related to agile philosophy?

5. Certifications are good if you are an interviewer and the guy with certification is at the other end of the table. Ask some basic practical testing scenario question and if the so-called testing expert does not have a clue about it even though he just gave you a perfect definition of it, you know what you have to do with that candidate. Thanks certification for helping screen candidates.

Certifications are BAD: 
1.Certifications are bad if they force you to just mug up some definitions and do not have practical life questions. 

2.Certifications are bad if you think you will learn testing (or worse, will become an expert) by passing the certification.

3. Certifications are bad because many employers are asking for that and some person who is good at testing does not get that job because he did not have enough money to pay for the certification fees. :(

4. Certifications are bad because they make you feel great for a while, and then later when you get to know the reality, it's hard!!!

5. Certifications are bad because you can get around them. How big can the examiner's question database be???
We all know how many theoretical questions can you make???

:o) :o) :o)

Monday, February 1, 2010

My First Lesson with James Bach, the testing legend

I never knew legends were so accessible. I am very thankful to James Bach, who wants to spread his knowledge to the world.

I had my first lesson from James on "Friday, January 29, 2010 12:44am to 3:37 am".
It felt so great to have two words with James Bach that the first time I got a response as hi from him, I took the screenshot of skype, even though I knew skype archives your chat.

I want to forward the learnings that I got from him to other proud testers:

Verse 1: 
James asked me to describe a test.

And I was very bad at it. I actually defined the test.
My Definition: A test is to explore a product to find out more about it, specially the issues in it. These issues are problems that might affect the user's experience adversely.
(I personally thought I did great there. But alas, what I did was defining the test)

After knowing that what I did was defining the test, I made one more attempt at describing the test.
And that was a little close to describing the test, but it was mentioning instructions to test.
And then James gave me the pearl of wisdom. Mentioned below "as is" in words of the legend:

[1/29/2010 2:04:20 AM] James Bach: If you were actually doing the test
[1/29/2010 2:04:30 AM] James Bach: and I were a blind man standing next to you
[1/29/2010 2:04:40 AM] James Bach: and you were telling me what you were doing, thinking and seeing
[1/29/2010 2:04:46 AM] James Bach: that's what I want

And I learnt now that when we describe a test. It is something like:
"I want to verify that... So what I do is... and then I see this... therefore I think that's working..."

Verse 2:
Do testers make assumptions?
It is a nice way of legends to teach, they do not give you the answer. They guide you to the answer and let you find it. Thanks James.
I started with the bookish answer that I will not assume but I will ask for the requirements or search for them.
And James guided me to the answer...

[1/29/2010 2:22:14 AM] Santosh Shukla: Testers do make assumptions sometimes as a last resort, but they also communicate/state it
[1/29/2010 2:22:23 AM] James Bach: good answer
[1/29/2010 2:22:30 AM] Santosh Shukla: thanks
[1/29/2010 2:22:30 AM] James Bach: of course we make assumptions
[1/29/2010 2:22:42 AM] James Bach: what we need to do is be aware of the critical assumptions
[1/29/2010 2:22:47 AM] James Bach: and trying to declare those

Verse 3:
Complete list of Expectations from the test.

Can you ever list the complete expectations from the test?  NO. 
What we always mention or list is the partial list of expectations. There are many expectations that go unwritten but those are still our expectations.

(My interpretations:)
Verse 3.1 Never promise for something you can not deliver.
Verse 3.2 Can we as a tester deliver complete test coverage? NO
Verse 3.3 Can a test team certify that the product is 100% bug free? NO

"What we CAN do is state clearly what we can do and to uncover the maximum amount of unpredictability from the product that we can." - yours truly

Verse 4:
"Also...Not..."  heuristic.

When I thought that I was done mentioning the expectation from my test, James pointed me to the Also...Not... heuristic. Using this heuristic one can add many more expectations to the already stated expectation by adding Also...Not... heuristic.

One important thing that I learnt while interacting with James was the importance of communication in the tester's life.
(If you being a tester think you can communicate well, explain "clickable" and reply to this post.)

-Sharing is the essence of learning.-
Thanks to James for allowing me to blog about the chat.
My chat with James Bach is my prized possession and I am open to sharing it with another proud testers. Thanks to James for allowing me to blog about our chat.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bite off more than you can chew

Since I started blogging barely 10 days back, something (good or bad is undecided yet) is happening with me. I have started reading more and more blogs, sometimes to see what others are writing about, sometimes to see how others are writing, sometimes inadvertently comparing my blog to others.

However in this process, I am reading more and more testing blogs. I never knew writing forces you to read. I had started writing because I thought I had some thoughts which arise out of my reading and thinking. And now my writing is forcing me to read more. What a nice relation!!!

Now that I am reading, I am reading a lot. It's good to know there's a lot to learn. I am reading more than I can later ponder on. Should I read less? Digest what I have read and then go on.

I think otherwise, I will read and read more. I know if it is worth pondering about, one of the best supercomputers (under-utilized to a great extent), my brain, would force me to think more about it.

I am awed by the ocean of knowledge lying on the web to be absorbed. And I am learning swimming by jumping into this mighty ocean with my life-jacket.

Do share your opinion on Biting off more than chewing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Tool is a tool is a tool

With this post, I do not wish to demean the importance of tools in human's lives, or software development or in the subject dear to our heart, Software Testing.

This post is to let all those people/companies looking for that three lettered acronym tool Experts or the experts in the so-called best load testing solution in the world; know about the importance of people with their soft skills and aptitude  (communication, attitude, testers' mindset, challenge loving) OVER skimming through the tool's vocabulary and now withered out FAQs mentioned over ******

While interviewing a candidate for testing (automation) position, I am not interested in someone who calls her/him as a tool expert but someone who is an automation expert. Because an automation expert is good at the basics of automation, who would be able to replicate the success that one had with one tool with any other tool with higher percentage of predictability.

In the interviews, instead of asking the theory questions for the tool, I would get the candidate work on creating an automated test. With the test it is much easier to judge the automation acumen of the candidate.

So, for all the testers out there, do not learn a tool first. Learn the basics of automation. And then we would be able to appreciate the beauty of the tool better.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My journey with testing so far...

A journey of thousand miles starts with a single step. - Confucius

This is my first step.

My journey with testing so far:

I, Santosh Shukla started my testing career by chance and not by choice. (I was recruited on-campus by my dream company Infosys then and freshers are not asked for their choice at India's most respected company. I did not have any preference either is another thing :o)
So, I was assigned to work with the testing division of Infy - IVS (Independent Validation Solutions).

I started testing professionally which I realized, I had been doing till then sub-consciously.
I have been an inquisitive child, I still am. I question things which do not seem right to me.
I think these are the bare essentials of being a tester.

Worked with a so-called Agile team in my first project. Only the development team was agile there, testing team wasn't, which essentially makes the whole team non-agile. Experienced three complete test life cycles and learnt basics of testing. Then worked on a second project of independent testers where my team comprised of all developers who had to act as testers and I was the only skilled tester. (Most of those developers have now switched to testing.)
Realized that I love testing, and I am a good tester at this point of time and became sure this is what I wanted to do.
Learnt testing with some tools that the world values a lot. I do not.  
A tool is a tool is a tool.
A human being, and his unquantifiable skills are much much above the tools.

I have done certifications:
Certified Software Test Engineer
Mercury Certified LoadRunner Expert

Are certifications valuable? Yes and No (More on this later...)

After a year and a half stint at Infosys, after knowing the service industry, after knowing the importance of working under pressure, meeting deadlines, valuing processes, and Predictability, after learning Customer is King and Always Right I accepted the offer from the world's largest enterprise software company, ORACLE .

At Oracle, I learned how great products are made and how the quality is embedded into the entire process. Learnt to work on a self-managed team and being the single Tester to one of the product that the entire Oracle Applications developers fraternity used extensively. It is altogether a different feeling to be a part of product company. Learnt that developer is your friend who cares about the product equally as you do and is more than happy to help you find the ways to improve his/her code.
Repeat with me... "Developer is a Friend."

After working with these two great and big organizations, I interviewed for another great and young organization, InsideView. I chose this organization because of the existing team of Stars, because of leadership team that I interviewed with. I knew I was being heard, and I could relate to the company, both of us are trying to establish ourselves as leaders in what we do. I work in a true Agile team, where developers and testers are not two teams but are a single Engineering Team. Where Collaboration is a way of life. Where testing team does not (only) find bugs but understands the UserStories along with developers and are equal contributors in moving the development life-cycle from requirements to shippable phase with the best quality.

I am learning testing everyday...
With this blog I will share my learning and encourage discussions/comments for a mutual growth.