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Surviving as the Only Tester and Adding Value

Have you ever found yourself serving as the only tester on a project? Do you perform functional Testing, Test Automation (frontend and backend), and Performance Testing? Do you wonder about the value you bring to the organization? Does this sound like a solitary path with many responsibilities?

If you are the only tester in the whole company or on your project, I would like to tell you that you are not alone. You may have faced much pressure trying to deliver results on a tight deadline, or maybe you spend long hours on an arduous project. Today I want to share some lessons that helped me work as a solo tester in the past.

There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle… Perhaps…
– Jean-Pierre Melville

Get strategic about your Testing time.

We’ve all been in a stressful position with our work, battling different fronts, working overtime, and trying to finish as much as possible in the time that you have. The job becomes about finishing activities, rather than adding value. Sound familiar? I see many testers falling into this routine.

They get anxious about the sprint time, their test cases, and their tasks. If you’re going to be a successful solo Tester, you must focus on specific Testing activities. It is best to create equity through the value and expertise you’re delivering to clients. It isn’t only about how many test cases, test scripts, or defects you can finish every sprint. It’s the classic quantity vs. quality debate.

Spend time only on the Testing activities that will ultimately add value to your clients. Spend the rest of your time doing efficient work, reducing your repetitive actions, and optimizing your current testing workflow. You can take advantage of some Testing tools and some low-code tools, but if you feel overwhelmed, try to speak with your manager; It may be time to bring in some help.

Focus on delivering valuable work, not just finishing tasks.

To provide the greatest value, testers need to dig into the product or service and its current activities. When you first start as a solo Tester, you have to begin producing results right away. If you are the only Tester, all the eyes will be on you and your testing activities. Remember, it doesn’t matter about time finishing tasks, focus on delivering valuable results.

You do not get results by focusing on results. You get results by focusing on the actions that produce results. – Anonymous

My recommendation is to focus on those activities that provide long-term value, such as Testing tools implementation, helping reduce time and add real value, quality mindset practices, shift left, and shift right activities. Consider creating a Testing roadmap to visualize where we are and where we want to be after implementing those activities. This will help your managers and other stakeholders monitor your progress and the value you bring.

It is valid to set limits

In those early days as a solo Tester, I said yes to everything. I routinely took on every project out of the necessity to provide fast results, not because it was valuable work. I was hungry to prove myself, and I didn’t feel confident enough to turn down a project or activity.

“Focusing is about saying No.” ― Steve Jobs

Define your limits; remember, sometimes it’s okay to say no. Less is more; please avoid those activities draining your energy. Stay motivated; if you continue trying to be a superhero finishing all and be there for all, your health can deteriorate. That isn’t good for you or your organization.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps it could be a bit intimidating, but believe me, working as the onlytesterdoes not mean that you are alone. You are part of a team and a greater organization. You can also join many Testing communities to share your experience and ask for advice.

As a recap, consider the following:

  1. Get strategic/check yourself spend time only on the testing activities that will ultimately add value to your clients
  2. Focus on those activities that could provide long-term value.
  3. Set your limits; it’s valid saying no, less is more.
  4. Spread the word, communicate your ideas and share with others. You may be the only Tester, but you are not alone.

Being the only tester can be something good or bad depending on how you can handle the responsibilities and your day-to-day tasks. It is not only doing testing, but we must also positively impact our testing landscape by doing smart testing.

Happy Bug Hunting!



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