What are the qualities that we look for in a great tester?  No one is a great tester on Day 1 but these are the strengths that managers should try to recognize, mentor and develop in their team.

1. A great tester has a ‘test to break’ attitude.  This is an ability to take the point of view of the customer, a strong desire for quality, and an attention to detail.  It requires the ability to look for weaknesses in the design and being able to evaluate the consequences and implications to the customer.  Testers with this quality are adept at applying lessons learned from defects in previous releases and ensuring that they are not repeated in future releases.

2. A great tester has tact and diplomacy.  These are essential qualities for maintaining a cooperative relationship with other teams in the SDLC.  A great tester should be able to communicate with both technical (developers) and non-technical (customers, management) people.  A great tester is someone the developers want to work with because they help make the project progress smoothly.  You don’t want to be the “gotcha” department.  QA is often the communication center of the SDLC as it requires interfacing with such a variety of departments such as documentation, customer support, product management, change management, business analyst as well as development.  If your QA department isn’t the hub of your SDLC, it is time to start reaching out!

3. A great tester draws on their experience.   Previous software development experience can be helpful as it provides a deeper understanding of the software development process, gives the tester an appreciation for the developers’ point of view, and reduces the learning curve in automated test tool programming.  Experience in testing a variety of software from different business sectors can bring fresh ideas into the test planning process.

4. A great tester has excellent judgment and analysis skills.   It is valuable skill to be able to evaluate and prioritize high-risk areas of an application to focus testing efforts on when time is limited.  They must be able to analyze the given business situation and rate all the possible scenarios. They should have the capacity to identify and tackle unfamiliar problems and develop a strategy to validate it.

5. A great tester should be able to examine a complex problem, its elements and their relationships and break it down into a logical test strategy. They should be able to develop a logical argument based on relationships between elements, as well as be able to identify implications and contradictions. They should be consistent and organized in analyzing and solving complex, multi-step problems.