April 26, 2017
Why You Don't Need to be Technical to be a Test Analyst
When considering IT as a profession, most people assume that you need to be technically minded and highly knowledgeable about computer software – the picture of the computer boffin springs to mind! However, while technical skills can be helpful (understanding how the software was built can indeed be very enlightening), there are many other important skills that the Test Analyst must possess to be successful.
So, what does a Test Analyst do?
A Test Analyst analyses (obviously…), designs, executes, reports on bugs, and last but not least, communicates with Clients, Developers, Business Analysts and Managers. None of these activities require to be particularly technical. Depending on the project that you are assigned to, you may need to be able to read and process vast amounts of information in the test preparation stage. Additionally, complex and detailed requirement documentation can sometimes be contradictory. In this case, you need to be very organised, make notes and prepare questions to clarify or confirm.
On the other hand, you may be given no documentation whatsoever – perhaps just a workflow, or a mere email. In either case scenario, it is best to avoid making assumptions, and to instead ask as many questions as you feel is necessary so that you know that you are on the same page as the client. In this sense, the Test Analyst preferably requires to be a good written and oral communicator and be happy to interact with project stakeholders. Test design requires concision and clarity of purpose as well as a great tolerance of repetition – a lot of copy-pasting takes place in that phase of testing. You also need to be very organised in the way you design your documents, in case you do not have access to a good test management tool such as Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). Organisation is important so that your test cases are user friendly for the Tester in charge of the execution.
The execution itself may demand to be more technical from the point of view that you will need to set up your devices, but unless you are completely technology averse (in which case software testing may not be for you), that is where testing becomes fun. A passion for learning and experiencing new technology is key. You can find yourself surrounded by iOS and Android mobiles and tablets, screens with different browsers, views to switch between to check, compare and record your findings.
Attention to detail is key, and the ultimate goal is to ensure the best possible user experience once the system goes live. Bug reporting is also fun but not technical; again, it requires clarity of language so that your instructions can be reproduced by the developer in charge of reviewing your findings. Ultimately, you are required to be inventive and think of creative ways to break software but you don’t need to fix it!
In conclusion, having recently left school as pupil / teacher, we could not resist finishing with a definition and creating an acrostic to summarise the attributes of a Test Analyst:
Definition: The ability to visualize, articulate, conceptualize or solve both complex and uncomplicated problems by making decisions that are sensible given the available information.
- A ttentive to detail
- N ot necessarily nerdy
- A rticulate
- L iterate
- Y oung (in mind)
- T olerant of repetition
- I maginative
- C ommunicative
- A daptable
- L ogical
Post Scriptum: Being a Test Analyst also requires being patient - there can be a lot of waiting around involved…
By Gillian Galloway and Cecile Robb - Test Analysts, Edge Testing