Work Experience and Work Placement

I’ve always tried to appreciate ‘context’ when I talk about Testing and also when I Test because ‘context’ is a very real thing. I’m an avid campaigner against Best Practices in Testing and I take every opportunity possible to question blatant “context unaware” statements about testing, especially so when they are communicated as “law”.

Yet it’s frightening how few Testers are ‘context aware’ when fine tuning ideas and talking about Testing. There may be many who never need to care about any other contexts or environments. There are some who know about other contexts but really don’t care. Then there are those who know about other contexts but don’t have a chance to explore any further than that.

Awareness is a good start. Appreciation is a further step. But what about actual “experience”?

Wouldn’t that be cool if you could “experience” another context for a number of days, maybe weeks or months? Experience first hand what it’s like to Test in this environment alien to yours, whilst you work alongside other testers who work in these contexts everyday? A kind of Tester swap?

Here’s why it *could* work.

  • Testers could gain a massive insight in to other contexts and other ways of working
  • Testers could gain experience working in contexts that they would never normally get to work in
  • Both sides would benefit. One side would get experience. The other side would get an extra set of hands, or some fresh eyes for a few days.
  • It would be a fun and interesting way of sharing knowledge
  • If you have a large company with many Test teams then it could work internally as some sort of exchange process. (Thanks to David, in the comments, for suggesting this one)

Here’s why it *might not* work

  • Confidentiality, privacy and the fact it’s a new (and potentially scary) idea for some
  • The costs involved. (Travel, accomodation, etc) <– or should this be self funded?
  • Regulatory (induction, health and safety, security compliance etc)
  • Logistics (self organised, run by a community like The Software Testing Club or ad-hoc?)
  • Some companies *could* take advantage of the scheme to get extra resource for a period of time
  • Lack of benefit from those placed if they get lumbered with sketchy jobs and checkbox testing
  • The system under test may be complex and/or complicated enough that a Tester may not have the chance in just a few days to add any real value. (Thanks to Kate, in the comments, for suggesting this) – I still believe the Tester would get to see another context, but the company offering them this opportunity may see little value..maybe.

No doubt I’ve missed some blindingly obvious pros and cons and I suspect a project like this would be bigger than I expect to get started….but it would be cool…right?

6 Replies to “Work Experience and Work Placement”

  1. Great idea mate. The cons you’ve listed would stand true for the majority of organisations unfortunately.Maybe a good starting point (at least in big organisations) would be to swap between teams if there are multiple options. This is rare I know, but there are places with multiple test teams over multiple projects… Just a thought.Tester Exchange Program – I like it!

  2. It’s a cool idea but as you point out, there are a lot of problems with organising this. However, some companies are exploring the possibilities – Atomic Object are thinking of a ‘craftsman’ exchange for 1-2 weeks with a company in Sweden

  3. Hi David,Thanks for the comment. I’d not thought of inter-company exchange programs. I like it.Rob..

  4. Hi Phil,I like the idea of craftsmanship exchange. It’s what I believe we need in the Testing Community. Sounds like Atomic Spin are leading the way on a number of fronts. :)Rob..

  5. Another con – companies with extremely complex software would have a lot of trouble using this idea. Where I work it typically takes a new hire at least 6 months to be familiar enough with the system to do anything beyond basic testing.

  6. Hi Kate,Thanks for commenting. I think a lot of the “upskilling” depends on the Tester in my experience. I’ve seen Testers on “simple” products take months to get to grips with it. I recruit a number of Testers in where I work (very complex, complicated with almost infinite combinations and they take only a couple of days before they start adding serious amounts of Testing value.I think your point is definately a “con” as I do believe really excellent Testers are few and far between, but I personally would like to think that I can add some value almost immediately.Many thanks for taking the time to comment. I’ll be sure to add your comment to the post.ThanksRob

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