What tips would you give testers on how to ask better questions?
Jonny Steiner, Product Marketing Manager
The nature of testing is not about confirmation. It is about questioning. Testers are not interested in simply following test cases, they want to question the system itself to ensure the processes are working to their fullest potential.
The SDLC is a process fraught with pressure to bring your web or mobile app to market on time. It gets harder for testers in that as much as they would like to have clear requirements, even in the least stressful of times this is not something they can count on with regularity. That leaves testers guessing or making assumptions which while expected is not the way to proceed.
Testers, being responsible for the analysis of facts and the quality of your web and mobile apps, must think critically and because of that ask questions. Asking questions is seen as an art form because the wording used and the way that they ask can get different results and lead to different outcomes. When QA testers ask the right questions, they will gain the required information they need and break their own assumptions.
The art of asking
Some testers and QA members for one reason or another show some reluctance to ask or be asked questions. These can be for several reasons but the most common seem to be psychological. People worry about their ability to sound intelligent and sometimes reject challenging themselves critically rather than face potential embarrassment.
Asking questions is a skill, and one that takes a bit of continuous learning and a lot of patience. Situations in which you must ask tough questions are common and while it might be uncomfortable the questions must be asked. Sometimes the questions are more important than the answers, especially when you are trying to benefit business leaders and stakeholders.
So how do they ask the right questions? And for that matter what are the right questions?
Let us take a closer look and give our QA and testing teams some tips to help them ask the best questions that will improve their web and mobile app testing.
Speak up and fear not
Referring to a previous point, the nature of QA and testing is to explore and dig deep. It is important that testers uncover defects and other UI issues. They are there to help so the questions must be asked. No matter what they find people within the organization will be glad the question was asked overall.
Team leaders and executives can encourage this type of interaction. Let team members know that their questions help and add a meaningful level of discourse to the SDLC.
In this way it is up to stakeholders and team leaders to inspire an elevated level of questioning from their QA and testing teams. They can create an environment where engineering and product expect questions, and where it is safe to ask questions. It all should be contextualized as a conversation of curiosity that everyone involved is interested in. The organization-wide goal is developing, testing, and releasing the best possible product.
Looking at the root of the issue
Once Testers and QA team members are willing to ask questions, they then need to ask the right ones. A terrific way to discover what that means is to work backward. Figure out what information you need from an answer and then ask questions around that.
Context is important too. Specificity combined with knowledge of the product/scenario you are asking about should be formulated in a way that speaks to the underlying problem. Exploring the cause-and-effect nature of the issue helps to expose the root cause.
Figuring out what questions to ask
Here is a quick primer to get you started asking the right questions.
Have a plan – Create a sequence of questions that lead you to the information you need. Make sure to ask only one question at a time. People get bogged down trying to answer too many things at once.
Be clear – Make sure the people you speak to understand what you need from them. Whether you need help making a decision or eliciting an opinion, or tips to move a project forward, clarity is key.
Give examples – Specific examples that help visualize your questions allow both sides to fully understand and follow through the conversation.
Keep it simple – Using nonprofessional terms will help you avoid using technical verbiage. That way everyone can speak to each other on the same level.
Be specific – The idea is to plan your questions toward what you want to get out of them. Too generic and it will take too long to get an answer.
Find the right person – If you do not know who to ask, ask someone to direct you to that person.
The questions remain
The truth is that there is no such thing as an easy or simple question. It is about communication and clarity over ease. At the same time, it is ok to admit when you do not understand something. There is no shame in not knowing, there is, however, in not showing an effort to learn. As your level of understanding grows so will the quality and specificity of the questions you are asking.
It is also important to remember that there is no limit to how many questions you ask. Until you get the information you need, keep questioning. This does not mean that you should just take stabs in the dark and hope to hit on the right questions. You must prepare as well.
Asking the right questions is a hard skill to master, but it is also important in daily software testing. The reason it is worth the effort is that you will learn more by asking better questions.
Once you have done your research and asked your questions, now you must figure out what to do with the answers. Ultimately, what you want is a 360-degree view of your web or mobile application. You need to be able to view angles like technology, usability, support, and competitiveness. A tester’s job is to test and report to both the developers and stakeholders on the quality level of their apps. The way to make this happen is by communicating and asking them the right questions. This way you will best understand how to test and release the highest-quality apps.
Learn more about Digital.ai Continuous Testing solution here.
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