Despite the fact that most Automation Engineers are writing superficial automation, the industry still worships automation skills, and for good reasons. This is intimidating for testers who don’t code, especially when finding themselves working alongside automation engineers.
Here are some things, I can think of, testers-who-don’t-code can do to help boost thier value:
- Find more bugs - This is one of the most valued services a tester can provide. Scour a software quality characteristics list like this to expand your test coverage be more aggressive with your testing. You can probably cover way more than automation engineers in a shorter amount of time. Humans are much better at finding bugs than machines. Finding bugs is not a realistic goal of automation.
- Faster Feedback – Everybody wants faster feedback. Humans can deliver faster feedback than automation engineers on new testing. Machines are faster on old testing (e.g., regression testing). Report back on what works and doesn’t while the automation engineer is still writing new test code.
- Give better test reports – Nobody cares about test results. Find ways to sneak them in and make them easier to digest. Shove them into your daily stand-up report (e.g., “based on what I tested yesterday, I learned that these things appear to be working, great job team!”). Give verbal test summaries to your programmers after each and every test session with their code. Give impromptu test summaries to your Product Owner.
- Sit with your users – See how they use your product. Learn what is important to them.
- Volunteer for unwanted tasks – “I’ll stay late tonight to test the patch”, “I’ll do it this weekend”. You have a personal life though. Take back the time. Take Monday off.
- Work for your programmers - Ask what they are concerned about. Ask what they would like you to test.
- What if? – Show up at design meetings and have a louder presence at Sprint Planning meeting. Blast the team with relentless “what if” scenarios. Use your domain expertise and user knowledge to conceive of conflicts. Remove the explicit assumptions one at a time and challenge the team, even at the risk of being ridiculous (e.g., what if the web server goes down? what if their phone battery dies?).
- Do more security testing – Security testing, for the most part, can not be automated. Develop expertise in this area.
- Bring new ideas – Read testing blogs and books. Attend conferences. Tweak your processes. Pilot new ideas. Don’t be status quo.
- Consider Integration – Talk to the people who build the products that integrate with your product. Learn how to operate their product and perform integration tests that are otherwise being automated via mocks. You just can’t beat the real thing.
- Help your automation engineer – Tell them what you think needs to be automated. Don’t be narrow-minded in determining what to automate. Ask them which automation they are struggling to write or maintain, then offer to maintain it yourself, with manual testing.
- Get visible – Ring a bell when you find a bug. Give out candy when you don’t find a bug. Wear shirts with testing slogans, etc.
- Help code automation – You’re not a coder so don’t go building frameworks, designing automation patterns, or even independently designing new automated checks. Ask if there are straight forward automation patterns you can reuse with new scenarios. Ask for levels of abstraction that hide the complicated methods and let you focus on business inputs and observations. Here are other ways to get involved.