A role playing game.
Disclaimer to devs: Written in a whimsical spirit, exaggeration may apply here and there. Please do not take it personally and try not to be offended.
Living the everyday life of a software tester can be cumbersome. Mostly associated with an endless endeavour to find problems to solutions, this backwards approach that, situationally, seeks to undo what was done often results in the tester wearing the villain’s cloth. Add to that the fact that people are hardwired with a natural inclination to find solutions to problems, not the other way around, and you have quite the pickle to deal with.
Alas, the above are merely a misconception of the role a tester should have within a good, productive, team. You see, you are not a destructive force, you are not a bug finding machine. The better a tester becomes the more he realises the need to traverse beyond the bug hunter trope, and the more he realises it the better he eventually becomes. A tester has many roles. Which ones exactly, you most certainly wonder.
I am glad you asked!
You are the user
Forget your knowledge of how things will work out, forget what you’ve seen so far. You are the user, take up the role. Not particularly smart nor particularly stupid, neither tech savvy nor paleolithic. Often times the worst user experience offenders are found by simple everyday Joes. Be one.
You are the administrator
There is no team of developers at your door when you call out and reach for help. They left you all alone and you must make do on your own. The application should be fully operational without requiring any further help, unless additional functionality is sought. Everything must work, and nothing should break. At least nothing that could potentially overturn the flow, nothing costly.
Perhaps the most tantalizing role of all, this one requires meticulous calibration of the mind and extra focus on all the tiny details. Remember, no application will ever be bug free and something will break. But nothing holds a candle to the possible havoc unleashed when a slightly, or even not at all, inept admin meets a bug.
You are a part time developer
Now things get real. A crucial role for a tester on the quest to greatness is that of a developer. Yes, you are reading correctly, a developer. Perhaps not your top of the line full stack awesome guru, there is no need for that. But continually leveling up knowledge of developing essentials is a must here. Not only will it make it that much easier to recognise problems, it will also make it a lot easier to establish optimal communication channels with the team’s developers.
You are equal
The hardest role of all. That of an equal team member. Simultaneously the most important of them all, bar none. Even the best developers, the most loving and caring, will eventually look down on you as a hinderance, an annoyance. No blames are laid, it is not their fault. Much like the referee in a soccer match, you are destined to cause at times distress. If you are particularly unlucky you may even be seen as a failed attempt to become a developer yourself. Add to that a slight God complex every human experiences when he creates.
Sounds like a struggle, and at times it will be. It may seem easier to lay down low and just clock in and out of your job, but don’t. When you get pushed, resist. When you find a bug you deem important, present it as such. Always take your time and speak up. Eventually everybody, including your dev team, will thank you for that.