I would have to say from my own viewpoint/testing career, that the hardest thing for me - still - is to figure out what I need to learn next in order to try to be in step with the changing technologies and the changing needs of the stakeholders.
I apply self-directed learning to what fits what project I am currently on and plan out what I think I will need next. Once in a while I find, "I knew I should have taken that left turn in Albequrque..." (B. Bunny) and realize what I put in the number 2 spot should have been in the number 1 spot :)
This can be challenging at times, however, I am not sure it can be avoided or solved since stakeholder needs change due to economic, business, and customer needs; technology continues to evolve at a fairly rapid pace - and there are so many different types of applications/systems that one could be faced with testing. What I need to learn needs to benefit whatever my current project is and fit within the time frame I have available for doing so (work, kids, and life limit that). All these factors make this one of the most challenging issues I face.
maybe not the sort of answer you were looking for but...
how about the problem of "making testing seem an attractive profession that attracts some of the brightest talent" instead of it being something that either people find by lucky accident or are pushed into doing ?
Do you think thats a problem we've solved ? partially solved ? or not even close ?
People who can not only give Alan some answers to his question but also come up with possible solutions to the problems ?
Consider this discussion itself as an example - very few replies but plenty of replies to the one about what is a standard test case template. Who are the people that will move the profession on from discussions about that ?
Fair enough. I'm afraid I have a bit of a kneejerk reaction to the word "talent" - evokes the sort of attitude Matt refers to in this blog post. "Talent" to me says "inborn, inherited, innate". Something that you have naturally, thanks to birth and background, not something that you work for or need to maintain or grow.
I think what Matt's talking about, what Michele talks about earlier in this thread - that's actually the hard challenge to my mind. How do you figure out what you need to learn? How do you support people who are doing that, without falling into the trap of taking away the learning by telling them what to do?
Who are the people that will move the profession on? Maybe what the profession really needs is to look at how to grow them, instead of expecting that if we build it, they will come?
(Also - I kind of like the outcome of "lucky accident". I think it's a feature, not a bug - the fact that people stumble in from all sorts of directions helps to make testers fairly heterogenous. In terms of avoiding groupthink, I can only see this as a healthy thing.)
Matt's blog post that you reference has the quote "Talent is the desire to practice."
Being a Chelsea fan one of the best players I had the pleasure to see was Gianfranco Zola - a total magician on the ball and if you read interviews with him then he was one of the players that would stop after training to put more practice in. Was his skill all down to practice or was some of it inborn and innate ? One of those questions that is always hotly debated
Would Zola have turned to football if club managers had the attittude that 'anyone can kick a ball into a goal' ?
So yeh, we need to attract people AND grow them when we have got them
Hey... I wanted to change my developer job to testing and QA field! This looked much more attractive than being the code monkey. ;)
Ok but to the problem. In my opinion information management is major problem. Project are beginning to be more and more complex. Different kind of technologies are tied together with different kind of midwares, protocols etc. During the development the developers are producing plenty of informatoin about the system, but usually that information is not managed by anyone. Finding the important information for testers' and test planning is unbelievable huge job. And Agile is not fixing this problem - it seems to make it even harder. Sooner or later the information mass at even medium size projects starts to be so huge that they collapse to the blackhole (or at some point managers understand, that projects needs almost full time information managers.)
I find software testing hard in case of testing any product bcoz in a product development the requirements goes on changing constantly. There are enhancements made from time to time. So in such case it becomes difficult to manage the test case documentation as the scenarios and test cases changes with teh change in the product's functionalities.