in Software Testing

Will we get off our high horses?

So, at the TestBash we had Ben Wirtz step up at short notice to talk about Lean Startups.  The video is below if you are interested.

The Tale of a Startup – Ben Wirtz – TestBash March 2012 from Software Testing Club on Vimeo.

Now I haven’t watched it back, but what really stuck in my mind was the fact that many testers seemed shocked that Ben hadn’t really considered doing any *proper* testing on his startup.

Perhaps I wasn’t surprised because I’ve seen and talked to many people who have never hired a tester in their life.

It’s not necessarily the industry norm, but in my ‘testing life’ I’ve frequently come across the following type of comments:

From a Tester’s perspective:

  • what you have no testers?
  • you need more testers?
  • have you consider this type of testing, reels off a list (functional, exploratory, security, performance..etc)
  • I’m not working for that kind of money
  • What, you have not budgeted for testing?
  • Ha ha, look at this bug…they should have tested properly

From a non testing perspective:

  • Sorry, no time for testing
  • Oh yeah, we fully intended to test, but it just didn’t happen
  • We’ve implemented some automated and unit tests
  • The Project Manager can give it a once over
  • Hmm, testing, don’t know a lot about that
  • Perhaps an office junior can do it
  • Lets ask our users to do it, we can release a ‘beta’ first
  • We should probably have more testers working on this

The shock that people felt of Ben’s lack of testing kind of saddened me, but at the same time great things happened.  As the questions and discussion went on testers became a bit more sympathetic to Ben’s business situation AND Ben also learned alot about how testing could help companies like his.

I was really pleased to see this happen.  Inspired and pleased.  And whilst Ben went away people apologised for being harsh on him, but he was enlightened and actually positive about the situation. He was a brave man!

Will we get off our high horses?

By this I mean…

  • what right do we have as testers to make demands of how a project or business should be run?
  • why do we think our roles as testers are so damn important?
  • we would love to think that no team or project can survive without a tester, but they do
  • why do we feel justified at commenting on bugs and saying that it wouldn’t have been there ‘if they had tested properly’.

I think it is about time testers got off their high horses and look to get a bit more diversity.  Usually there are justifications for not having testing.

I mean, perhaps as a startup:

  • you have the choice of going under or employing a tester
  • you have the choice of figuring out your business model or perfecting a model that users won’t buy or use
  • you have a budget for a tester or a sales person? a tester or a community manager? a tester or a support person? a tester or a developer?

What would you do?

Diversity

As testers we need to diversify. We need to become more than just testers.  This is partly why the Test is Dead rant has been going around the past few months.  We need to pick and choose carefully what we would love to get involved with.  Think how much more valuable you would be to a team if you had more than one focus:

  • tester / developer
  • tester / support
  • tester / community manager
  • tester / user experience designer
  • tester / writer
  • tester / business analyst
  • tester / startup
  • tester / sales person

I’m convinced there is more than just a tester in each of us, but it may take time to figure it out.  The more we diversify the more right we have to sit up on that high horse.

  1. I agree that testers need to prove their value to a project rather than just expecting to be consulted at every stage.

    There are plenty of areas where testers can add real value to a company but finding and reporting bugs shouldn’t be considered one of them. Work with the development team to help them create a brilliant product, if you can prove your worth then people will seek you out for your input.

    A great talk by Ben, he is obviously a brave man!

  2. To me it’s called engineering. I really dislike this dev – test seperation. I have coding for 40+ years – today I’m considered a senior tester – why because someone has to be the grown up at times.

    I like your pairing of dev/eng. Think as an engineer in building a system.

  3. I thought the audience response was great. I wish there was a similar response in the talks on ‘test is dead’. I realize there were uncomfortable moments, but overall I think everyone expressed their opinion (what they really felt). I am with the testers.

  4. I thought the audience response was great. I wish there was a similar response in the talks on ‘test is dead’. I realize there were uncomfortable moments, but overall I think everyone expressed their opinion (what they really felt). I am with the testers.

  5. For the Tester / Developer role to work as well as possible I think you would need to avoid testing the parts of the software that you wrote yourself. This is for the following reasons:

    * You need to be aiming to find bugs as a tester, and if you wrote the code then part of you will be hoping that you don’t find any.

    * The problems you fail to consider when testing the code will be likely to match the ones you failed to consider when developing it. This will allow more bugs to sneak through than if a different person did each task.

  6. For the Tester / Developer role to work as well as possible I think you would need to avoid testing the parts of the software that you wrote yourself. This is for the following reasons:

    * You need to be aiming to find bugs as a tester, and if you wrote the code then part of you will be hoping that you don’t find any.

    * The problems you fail to consider when testing the code will be likely to match the ones you failed to consider when developing it. This will allow more bugs to sneak through than if a different person did each task.

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