How do you explain your job to your grandma :)

Hello!

A while ago I did a funny exercise. I was supposed to explain what I’m doing at work to my grandma. It helped me to realize what mission I have as a QA in our company. I’m curious how do you guys see your role or mission in the production process? Can you describe it in one sentence?

I’ll start: I ensure that the feedback loop exist to ensure our service functions as desired

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Hello Elena

Great exercise. I actually have a lot of trouble explaining what I do as a QA Test Analyst to my friend’s and family. Mainly because they don’t work in IT but it’s still quite a challenge. I see my role as a QA Tester in an agile Project team as the first and last line of defence for Production with the aim of ensuring as few defects as possible make it into users 9-5 life. To do this I would try to break whatever the developer has built!

In one simple sentence…
“My job is to defend Production from catastrophe caused by system updates”

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I say the following: On any website, game application or application depending whom I’m talking too.

Someone has to make the (Insert) for you to use, I’m the one that tries to break it before you start you see use it.

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As my Grandparents are long gone, I’ll chime in with what I would say to my Mother (Grandma to my kids).

I would talk details. I would talk about code and why I would make that code. I would talk about testing and how it isn’t all about coding. I would talk (a lot) about the social impact of why I would make certain testing decisions. I would sometimes bring out charts and graphs and talk about oracles or processes. My Mother is probably smarter than I am.

(To be fair, the coding parts bore her somewhat, but we have deep conversations about the social aspects of testing. She’s a retired psychologist)

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Great thread! I usually explain what I do by asking them:
“You know when you go to the ATM and it won’t do what you want it to do? What if you take money out, ask that it prints out a ticket and it doesn’t?” -they nod. I say “Well, that’s kind of what my job is but not with an ATM, I do it with [insert product I’m testing at that moment], but basically what I do is investigate if things work, why they don’t and also question how they work, work with other people to see if there’s an easier way to do it.”

I also use other examples depending on who I’m talking to. For example, I’ve used Facebook, Whatsapp or Instagram as an example when trying to explain younger people what I do.

I doubt it’s the best way to explain it but the people I’ve explained it like that to (grandparents, my mom, friends, aunts and uncles) got it pretty fast.

(Sorry I didn’t stick to the “one sentence” prompt…I’m a rebel)

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“Defend from catastrophe”, I love it!

Actually I’m with your mom here! I love the social part more and I’m even a little bit annoyed when people think that it’s all about coding. To me QA is rather about asking right question than just coding

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Hehe, great one! First you describe how bad it can go and then you just say “I prevent all this”. Smart

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I help computers not to make mistakes when they are helping people

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I try and think of what users actually might try and do to a bit of software instead of what we want them to do with it, then find out what happens so we can make sure they can’t break the software by doing it.

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Because it says so much by saying so little, I would paraphrase James Bach et al to explain what I do: I’m a software tester, grandma, and testing is applied epistemology.

How do you ensure the feedback loop exists? Isn’t that the job of your manager or the product manager?
How do you ensure the service functions as desired? Are you sure you found all the bugs? Are you sure you understand deeply the clients of the service and their needs and wants(most of these being tacit)?

Are you responsible of the release of the product in production?
A tester usually just informs the devs and managers of their findings. The product can go live then without any of the bugs found or observations made being fixed/changed.

That’s a way to put it. But isn’t the application already broken? and you only discover that it was broken? Aren’t you actually revealing where the application might not work for som

Unless you actually code the fixes for the mistakes, you’re just an informant of those mistakes. You don’t actually help the application not to fail.

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My version:
People are building (IT) products in my company. Like a detective, I evaluate them through investigation, experiments, analysis, exploration, questioning, observations, modeling, inferences, etc… and see how they fail or how they might not work in ways that are relevant to the users or stakeholders (managers).

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Unless you actually code the fixes for the mistakes, you’re just an informant of those mistakes. You don’t actually help the application not to fail.

As TDD developer or SDET, I certainly fix actual bugs.
(if) automation/manual tester, I ‘help’ the application not to fail by finding scenarios where it can fail and then requesting devs to fix it. I don’t make it avoid mistake but I certainly help.

People are building (IT) products in my company. Like a detective, I evaluate them through investigation, experiments, analysis, exploration, questioning, observations, modeling, inferences, etc… and see how they fail or how they might not work in ways that are relevant to the users or stakeholders (managers).

I like the ‘detective’ bit

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I would just go: “I help create bank applications that work the best they can.”

I don’t see myself as a bystander who just reports on stuff or looks for bugs. My mission is to be there and help plan and predict what can go wrong and which paths to take. Also to support the core Dev people produce the code as fast as possible with as high quality as possible.

I am often part of a discussion which route to take, technologies to implement, how to fix something or just about how it should look. When I want to, I fix/implement stuff myself.

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I too do not have any grandparents, but I recently explained to some friends of the family who are grandparents. I said:

“I look for mistakes, either before or after they happen.”

Aaaand then loads of details extrapolating on what kinds of mistakes we perpetuate as individuals, teams, companies, and the tech industry in general… which led to us having a big discussion about how tech perpetuates the biases of the people who ask for and create it, and their minds were blown because they saw technology as something like pure maths that just sort of… happens and is there and can’t be good or evil. Prolly one of my fav conversations from the last few weeks, and I’m glad you brought this topic up just so I could tell someone xD

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