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Importance of Writing for Testers

WritingImagine an Explorer who lost his way in woods. Now, he’s got one option i.e. to track his route, make markings to avoid visiting the same area again and again. He has to keep notes of the time, sunlight direction, markings on the woods, areas covered etc etc. Similarly, A tourist in a new city always makes notes of the places to visit or visited. Imagine how important it is for a Tester to make notes while doing Exploratory Testing (an unplanned activity) or writing notes of something suspicious you come across while testing, to foster better communication and remember important things which are otherwise ignored if not written down.

Remember when we were in School / College we always used to take down notes of lectures and re-read them to understand the topic further in detail.

A Tester writes notes, pointers, bugs, important messages, journals to communicate information, reports, views, observations. They need to make sure no important information is missed. To communicate effectively, penning down your thoughts, activities is very essential. But a poorly written information may not help you as a tester, the project or the team. Testers can always learn the art of writing once they understand the importance of it.

Testers who submits incomplete, hard_to_understand information fails in their presentation. Details provided are lost in translation when Tester:
– makes use of very long sentences thus derailing the issue under discussion
– writes incomplete sentences to only create confusion in reader’s mind
– do not focus on the vocabulary
– too many issues presented in same bug report
– gives partial information and assume developers and team to fill in the blanks

As a result, the project fails miserably. Developers do not find any interest in reading tester’s bug reports. They fail to understand the issue(s) presented and eventually lose interest. Testers poor in writing are poor in verbal communication at times. Dev. team gives least priority to such testers and their written information presented.

So it becomes crucial for testers to have effective written / verbal communication to convey their messages to the team and management. Testers should understand the importance of writing and its benefits for the project. Only through practice testers can develop their writing skills and adopt it as a tool to enhance communication and increase productivity.

Testers can learn the art of writing effectively by penning down their thoughts, ideas, observations and findings in the form of notes or journals.

Here are few ways how Testers can improve their writing skills for better communication:

1. Blogs:

A tester learns through experience and reading. The more you read, you not only question your pre conceived ideas, knowledge but develop new understanding and approach. How good it is to write down your thoughts in the form of blogs – personal or share it with public to know their viewpoint about your thoughts. Having new ideas through experience and reading helps improve thought process. The best way to use those ideas in practice in future is by writing them down. Doing this will always help you to learn, understand, think, reason and remember. Ideas conceived but not written down are always forgotten.

2. Make Meeting / WAR Room Notes:

it’s always good to make (write) note of points discussed in meetings. You can go through the points and ask questions to the management / client based on your understanding of the topics post or during the meet.

Imagine how much crucial information is lost when you come out of an hour-long meeting session with blank notes. The verbal information received remains fresh only for a day or so before you start asking your team mates about the last meeting MOM.

3. Observations:

When you are testing an application, you learn something new about it. Write down your thoughts and the thought process, assumptions that you made while testing, Test data used, What was your test strategy and approach, What Testing techniques you deployed, the bugs that you found and how you found them.

Bug Reporting: if you observe something suspicious or something that surprises you while testing, make a note of it. Find out if it really is a bug. if it is, write the observation and find out steps to reproduce it. Re-do the steps to make sure it’s a valid bug and not just symptom.

When you submit your bug report to the team, make sure you proof read it. There should not be spelling mistakes, or incomplete sentences or missing information. Make it simple but effective. Complexity will only slow down the work.

Not noting down issues that you see while testing can impact the quality of testing. Imagine how bad it will be for the project when a known issue slipped out of your hand (because you didn’t note it down) and is now found in production. So always maintain a diary entry of all the suspicious items that you observe. Note down versions of the application, environment, browser, devices, test data used, steps to reproduce the bug and all the essential information.

4. Discussions:

Testers should write down important points when they discuss ideas or during brain storming sessions with peers. This will help them get a different picture of the topic. Testers come up with new questions out of discussions. One should write down these questions and get their answers to understand the application in a better way.

Testers involved in pair testing should discuss and write down the issues, observations and discussions they had.

5. User Stories:

Testers should learn how to write user stories effectively. Think as an end-user who is going to use the application and brain storm to understand different ways of using the feature. Come up with Test Scenarios and pen them down.

6. Flowcharts, mind maps, diagrams:

Testers should draw diagrams, flowcharts to have a better understanding of the application. Building a mental model is good but it’s better when put on paper. You can use that as a reference heuristic later to see what your understanding was when you re-test the application. You can also share your written material with developers and let them know about your findings.

if I have a picture in mind, why not put it on paper and present it to the team. This will help me to not only improve my verbal but written communication skills as well. It’s always good to write it down than commit to memory.

7. Learning new stuff:

Testers learn everyday something new about the application or otherwise. Testers always have a mental model about the application. Learning something new hekps to either refute the mental bias or accept it. Whatever is the result, make notes of your learning. Doing this will help testers to keep record of stuff learned all this time. They can use / implement their learning as a solution heuristics to newer problems.

Testers should re-read their notes to get a fresh new outlook, a new perspective to look at things differently while testing.

I prepare a cheat sheet of Testing stuff that I learn while on the job and use it for future reference.

8. Important Info:

You might want to bookmark URLs or element ids, paths or the ticket number. You should quickly make a note of it either online or in your notebook.

9. Session Based Testing: Testers should write about the work they plan to do in particular session. It’s always a good activity to write important stuff down. There are advantages. First, you can always go back and refer to previous session based testing or testing done otherwise. Second, you always have a log of work done.

10. Log your working hours:

Be honest towards your profession. Make sure you do not exaggerate or depreciate your working hours.

11. Questions:

if you have doubts about the application while testing, make note of it. Prepare a list of questions to be asked. Make sure you write down hints or notes of why you came up with that question. You don’t want to throw questions to client without having clear idea of how you came up with that question.

12. Things to do:

Make a list of things that you planned to do today. Make sure before the day ends, you tick mark things done in the list.

Doing above activities will definitely help Testers improve their writing skills. Effective writing skills helps to take project onto the path of Success. Whether its Reporting a bug or writing a test plan or preparing test cases, testers should know how to communicate their message effectively.

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Rahul Aggarwal
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Rahul Aggarwal

Tester at Mindhunters
I am a Freelance QA, a learner, passionate about Testing. I love to blog here on various Testing topics and otherwise.
Rahul Aggarwal
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