In this article, we are presenting a tête-à-tête with one of the most famous software testing veterans, Mr. Michael Bolton who is also a well-respected author, teacher, consultant and leader in the field of software testing.
Our ‘get to know a leader’ interview series focuses on prominent personalities from the SoftwareTestingHelp community. You can also take a look at our prior interview with Neeraj Tripathi, Vice President of Global QA at Infor.
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We are thrilled to present this interview with Michael Bolton, so let’s right away start our brief interaction with him.
You can find a thorough rundown of his accomplishments, work, courses, and undertakings on his personal blog here.
Let’s get started:
Question #1) Can you share some insights about your journey from being a newbie to an expert software tester? Your story can serve as an inspiration for our readers who are striving to become QA professionals.
Michael: There are several ways to respond to this question.
I might mention that I began my software testing journey when I started editing the school newspaper a long time ago, or when I first started using software. Alternatively, I might point out that I officially became a software tester when I began writing software around 1988, or even when I landed a job in technical support back in 1990.
All these experiences enriched my knowledge and skills, moulding me as a “software tester”. My first formal role as a software tester was at Quarterdeck around 1994.
Question #2) What do you believe is the most rewarding part of being a software tester?
Michael: As a tester, you get the exciting opportunity to continually learn about technologies, business domains, and problems, and get paid for that learning experience. It is like perpetually being in a university throughout your career.
Question #3) Your Rapid Software Testing program is widely esteemed as one of the best in the industry. What makes it stand out?
Michael: Several courses emphasize memorization of jargon just for clearing an exam. We operate differently, we have no exams. Even though terminology is important for refining our understanding about testing, we focus more on the approach rather than insisting on specific terms. We encourage students to ponder over their own concepts about their craft and how they articulate about it. This is how experts evolve.
The hands-on approach utilized in the Rapid Software Testing and Rapid Software Testing Applied courses is adored by students. We use software and solve puzzles in our class, discussing each perspective, and learning from the outcomes. This approach is not unique to us, and classes like Rob Sabourin’s Just in Time Testing and the BBST sessions have similar engagement. These classes have gained popularity because testing needs actual practice along with theory.
Question #4) It is often said that testing teams are underrated in software projects. What key challenges do testing teams encounter?
Michael: From my perspective, the major challenge is that employers frequently have misunderstandings about testing and consequently maintain low expectations from it. This is compounded when testers remain under-skilled because of their under-skilled hiring managers. Furthermore, many testers do not invest in boosting their skills in areas like technical competence, critical and systems thinking, and reporting. This continues the vicious loop.
Question #5) For a tester to succeed, which trumps the other— Analytical & Critical reasoning or tool & Process competency?
Michael: This is not a binary decision. It can be likened to asking which is more crucial for a cyclist – balance or steering?
Tools expertise and process proficiency are inconsequential without critical thinking and analysis. These skills can be groomed by proper tools and proficiency. Every facet is important along with various other elements.
Question #6) A lot of testers consider certifications as a means of improvement. What’s your take on certifications?
Michael: Most testing certifications sadly do not evaluate your practical testing ability. Frivolous certification is not the solution. Rather, concentrate on self-learning. Refer to BBST class materials or join one, if possible. Read books by Jerry Weinberg. Go through various testing blogs, practice testing with teammates or take part in Weekend Testing sessions.
Question #7) What foreseeable changes in software testing could prove unfavourable for testers?
Michael: Many people believe that testing is about bureaucracy, paperwork, and adhering to scripted test guidelines involving particular inputs and expected outputs. This sort of work, which algorithms or software can perform, is referred to as “checking.” (You can find more about this here.)
Most organizations and testers persistently feel that religiously adhering to instructions is the essence of testing, yet eventually, they’ll realize that pre-defined perfunctory testing provides only limited value and information. Many such tests can be automated with coding. Testers following instructions can choose to augment their technical, analytical, social-science skills or look for other job avenues.
Testers showcasing expertise in actual testing—which involves analysis, designing experiments—will always have a competitive advantage.
Question #8) Could you shed some light on the emerging trends in software testing?
Michael: I hope testing becomes acknowledged as a vital skill set, intertwined with software development. Everyone—developers, designers, business professionals—should acquire these skills. I also hope that there remains a place for specialists who contribute their unique testing skills and work collaboratively with other roles. For this dream to become a reality, the skills of worldwide testers need to be enhanced.
Questions #9) Do you have any advice for budding testers seeking success in their testing career?
Michael: The answer differs for each tester. Yet, one skill that the majority of testers regretfully lack is the capability to competently convey their testing narrative.
The testing narrative consists of three intertwined components like a braid. One component spotlights the product, its current status, features, limitations, potential issues that could be of interest to various stakeholders.
Another component highlights how the testing was performed, including setting up, operations, observations, oracles, coverage, and remaining sections to be covered.
The third component talks about the quality of testing, why it is appropriate for the given situation, challenges faced, and suggestions for enhancing testing outcomes and efficacy.
Bonus Question #10: If you could pick only one vital skill for both aspirant and practicing testers, what would it be?
Michael: There isn’t just one.
Focus on skills that yield the most value in your current context, and hone areas that need improvement. Refine your critical thinking skills, question assumptions, practice analysis, and master the art of narrating the testing story.
You can connect with Michael on Twitter.
Thank you, Mr. Bolton, for generously sharing your insights, guidance, and thoughts with our audience. It has been an absolute pleasure. Our readers and STH are truly grateful for it.
Stay connected for more conversations with distinguished personas in the world of software testing. Please feel free to drop your comments, suggestions or queries.