Q and A with Ajay Balamurugadas

Q and A with Ajay Balamurugadas

Q) What do you have to share with the newbie testers aspiring to be software testers?

Three key themes with three points each:

  • Practice
    • What you know so that there are very few better than you.
    • What you don’t know so that you can know it soon.
    • To make as many mistakes in fail-safe environments and be aware of them so that you don’t make the same mistakes in high-stake situations.
  • Network
    • Attend as many meetups, events, conferences, hackathons as possible.
    • Learn from others who have already made more mistakes than you.
    • Do not hesitate to ask for help and give it back when it is your turn.
  • Testing is for life
    • Do not expect success very early.
    • Do not burn bridges with anyone.
    • Do not get disheartened when your experiments don’t yield the expected results. Take it as a learning and try again, intelligently.

Q) What is the go-to guide to self learn about testing?

Everyone learns in their own way and so I want to suggest different ways of self-learn and leave the choice to the testers

Q) Is the debate manual versus automation testing still relevant?

I would like to answer a different question here: “What should be our approach when we encounter a debate like manual versus automation testing?”

Three things:

  • Listen to both sides of the argument.
  • Study in depth about both the topics involved in the argument.
  • Ignore the debate and sharpen the skills in both the topics which will not leave you with any time for debating.

Q) Do share with us about your work with the local testing community?

Thank you for asking this question. Apart from a full-time job where I head the Delivery at Qapitol QA, helping companies to release quality software, I interact with multiple testers and testing communities to be aware of different contexts. This helps me a lot.

Meetups: Agile Testing Alliance, The Test Tribe
Workshops: Conducted through Test With Ajay (Open to collaborate with any organizer/community)
Speaker: Conferences, Meetups
Coaching: Testers who are interested to learn specific skills over Skype (ajay184f)
Articles: StickyMinds, My Blog, LinkedIn Pulse

Q) How is software testing gaining or losing traction with the Gen Next software graduates?

I do not know if testing is gaining or losing traction. One thing I am sure of is that we should not misguide the graduates. Most of them are smarter than the current professionals.

One of the multiple ways we could help them is by giving our time to answer their questions, explain the truth behind our myths and demonstrate our online portfolio.

Q) How test management is now compared to what it was a decade ago?

Just like the changes in the industry trends, the way testing was managed has also changed. Initially, the focus was on the artifacts such as the test cases, bug reports, and the metrics. Slowly, the management wants to know whether the testing team is adding value or not.

I would say that test management encompasses multiple skills and few key skills include problem-solving, coaching, communication and having a good emotional quotient towards your team.

Q) What are the key lessons that the experienced testers, or in general any tester needs to learn?

Experienced Testers: We have to come out of silos and comfort zones and help each other cross the wave of change that is rocking the testing industry. We have to stop spreading best practices. We have to openly accept where we messed up and highlight our online portfolio to help each other. Some of my mistakes I have tried to highlight here: www.leanpub.com/50mistakes

In general, the testers can focus their energy to learn in depth about technology, testing, programming, domain, and the industry. We need to understand that learning is a continuous journey.

Q) Does positivity, curiosity, interest influence you when testing? If so how?

These traits influence my testing for sure. When I am positive, upbeat, energetic and highly curious, I am brimming with test ideas. I can say that I get into a zone where I don’t even realize if a glass of water is kept next to me. My entire focus is on the product, the test idea, the components of a test and so on. Sometimes, when I am physically, mentally or emotionally tired, I am missing the straight forward bugs. I am letting my biases take over me and I am not happy with the end result, most of the times.

A tester might be staring at a computer or an image or a handwritten note for quite some time, do NOT disturb the tester. (S)he might be building a mental model and with your one second of interruption, the whole model might disappear. Image link: https://heeris.id.au/2013/this-is-why-you-shouldnt-interrupt-a-programmer/

Q) What are some of the offbeat ways to learn about software testing?

  • Four Hour Tester: https://www.fourhourtester.net/
  • Spend time in other departments and know what bugs escape into the release.
  • Get into challenges where you pay money for every bug, not in your list.
  • Review products online, note what customers complain and learn from them.
  • Participate in bug hunting contests, review the bugs filed and learn from them so that you can find them, the next time.

Q) If you could bring someone/something with you to your workplace, who/what would that be?

It depends on the purpose.

If I want to get my work reviewed, I would request the experts to review my work. It would be awesome to learn from them and make a note of all the mistakes I make.

If there are things that help me test better, then they are
1. Water Bottle
2. Marker
3. Book and pen
4. Some snacks
5. My smartphone

Q) How being a problem-solver has helped you in life and with software testing?

  • Problems are everywhere – in life and in testing.
  • People are everywhere – in life and testing.
  • Learning to solve problems from PSL workshop (Jerry Weinberg and Esther Derby facilitated) has helped me in solving any problem to my satisfaction.

Some of the gains for me include:

  • Peace of mind
  • Increased productivity
  • More close friends
  • Happy personal and professional journey
  • Multiple opportunities

This might look like an exaggeration. Majority of the attendees of my Problem Solving Workshop have experienced similar discoveries. Know more about my workshops here www.testwithajay.com

Q) What jargons and practices must be extinct in today’s’ tech world?

Many but I have listed three practices here: https://www.stickyminds.com/article/3-testing-practices-we-should-all-stop

I will share with you once I have listed out every jargon I think should be extinct.

Q) What is your one message to the experienced test managers or those in senior positions and have the power to influence?

  • Connect before correct – I heard it first from Gina Enache Tuppad
  • Treat your team members as people and later as testers/developers.
  • You will see happy and productive employees.
  • Maybe, I should go ahead and prepare a talk on this.

Thank you very much for your questions.
These were brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed answering them.


Ajay Balamurugadas goes by the handle ‘ajay184f’ in the testing community and is continuously re-inventing his testing methodology. He co-founded Weekend Testing – a worldwide movement for skilled testing authored six small books under the theme “What If” downloadable at his blog http://EnjoyTesting.blogspot.com. His latest book is available at www.leanpub.com/50mistakes. His friends associate the terms – ‘Change Agent, Idea Man, Motivational’ to him. He tweets under @ajay184f and loves to have long conversations on software testing and life in general. He is currently leading the delivery at Qapitol QA – Provider of Continuous Testing Solutions to DevOps Teams.

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