A QA Engineer Is Like Prometheus (And Why That's a Good Thing)

In Greek mythology, Prometheus defied the gods by stealing fire from Mount Olympus and giving it to humanity. Back then, fire was regarded as just warmth and light, but Prometheus harnessed technology, knowledge and innovation. In short: the building blocks for civilization.  

Having spent over a decade in software development, I relate to Prometheus’s quest because he represents that flame within all of us, the one that pushes all of us to strive for and achieve something larger than ourselves, to push for greatness. With their quality mindset, the QA engineer should defy the limitations of conventional thinking in software development and strive for the exceptional. Prometheus didn't just disperse fire; he instilled in humanity the curiosity and courage to explore new possibilities. Similarly, the QA engineer should inspire their team to transcend testing and bug-fixing and foster a culture of continuous improvement, innovation and excellence.  



Imagine wearing three vastly different hats daily, each revealing a unique perspective on what it truly means to ensure quality in the digital products that shape our lives. 

First Hat: The Technologist 

A QA engineer’s first job is to really understand technology, not just finding small mistakes but getting to know the software inside out. To understand how the software is built, you may need to ask a few questions before even testing it: 

  1. What is the Technical Architecture of the software?  

  1. What are the components that make the solution?  I.e., what is the back-end system? What is the front-end system? Are there APIs or a Middleware in place? 

  1. How does the data flow between different modules? 

Knowing the software well helps you spot problems before they even arise. This doesn't just make you good at catching errors; it makes you a guardian of the software world. You ensure the software works well and is reliable for everyone who uses it. 

Second Hat: The Product Visionary 

Next, you change from being a tech expert to thinking like someone who uses the product. This transformation requires stepping into the shoes (or minds) of the users, imagining their joys, frustrations and needs as they navigate through the software. Typical questions you may ask at this point are: 

  1. Who will be using this product? For instance, software for tracking patient vitals: Doctors, caregivers/nurses and patients are the key user personas. 

  1. What are the core problems the software solves in the users’ lives? 

  1. Do you understand the user sentiment attached to the use cases they perform in the software?   

Take health and fitness apps for example. There’s a positive sentiment: feeling motivated by achieving fitness goals or receiving encouraging reminders to stay active. Then, there’s the negative sentiment: feeling discouraged when failing to meet set targets or experiencing inaccurate activity tracking. 

Looking beyond the code helps you understand the user's perspective. Every decision — from the placement of a button to the flow of a signup process — is made with the user in mind. You're not just testing software; you're sculpting it into a tool that fits seamlessly into the user's life, enhancing it, making every interaction smooth and every task simpler. 

Third Hat: The Champion of Human Values 

The third hat is perhaps the most unique and profound: the champion of human values. Quality assurance isn't just about software's relationship with its users but the values it upholds. This is especially true in the era of AI and data science. When assessing a software solution, a QA engineer should consider if it upholds values that bolster societal progress. This hat has three aspects:  

  1. Does our software development prioritize addressing problems with empathy and integrity? 

  1. Do we promote mutual respect and inclusivity within our team? Without practicing these values internally, we may struggle to incorporate them into the solutions we offer. 

  1. Do our testing strategies consider societal benefits? For instance, do we ensure software accessibility for all? Or certify it with global standards to aid people worldwide? Also, do we avoid content that may harm specific groups? 

Fostering an environment where everyone's voice is heard and mistakes are embraced as learning opportunities helps us launch products that enrich lives. This perspective ensures the software is technically sound, user-friendly and ethically grounded in the best of human intentions. 

Wearing these three hats doesn't make the QA engineer's job harder; it makes it more interesting — and powerful. It's not just about finding bugs; it's about seeing the bigger picture of how to make software great. Like how Prometheus brought fire to the masses, QA engineers should aim to do more than just what's asked. They should focus on fixing real problems and making software that tangibly improves lives. That's the real goal: making the world a better place. 

Next story loading loading..