QASymphony / Blog / Wake up testers! It’s time to change your attitude
Wake up testers! It’s time to change your attitude
Testers the world over feel overworked and undervalued. Overtime is a constant necessity because of the pressure to get products out the door. QA departments are often excluded from the development process, and then end up being blamed for defects that make it into production. Late builds and patchy documentation are commonplace. Concerns are ignored, and this leads to arguments with the development and management teams. If you’re thinking “Why, why, why? It’s so unfair.” Then you need to change your attitude. It’s time for a wakeup call.
How everyone else sees you
Managers and developers don’t really understand what you do. They perceive testers as slow and combative. Defect reports are perplexing; they can’t find the bottom line. They think anyone can do your job, and given half a chance they’ll automate you out of it.
What’s the problem?
A lot of testers see themselves as the quality police. They are aiming for the holy grail of a zero defect product and they’ll fight to achieve that aim. The software always has bugs in it, so the testers are never happy to let it go. The problem is: it’s not your job to decide when a product should ship. This is a business decision. It’s a risk versus reward evaluation. It will often be prudent to ship earlier to market with defects, than to delay another few months to fix some of them. Problem is, by casting yourself as the gatekeeper of the product you are making yourself an obstacle.
Testing is all about communicating information, not data. How that information is used is not your concern. What you need to do is focus on how to provide the information that your colleagues are really looking for. There are ways you can change your attitude today and start to build better relationships that will lead to you being more genuinely valued by your company. Think of yourself as a service provider and try to understand what your customers want. A report filled with metrics on defects and test completion does not tell the management team upstairs anything useful, its mindless data – not information. Try to help them understand how close to ready for shipping the product actually is, bearing in mind that no product is ever defect-free. They want to be armed, so that they can make an informed decision. Stop trying to execute responsibilities you don’t have the authority for. Don’t overreach or you’ll feel frustrated. Your job is to identify defects and report on them; to test software and see if it is fit for purpose. You are not responsible for fixing defects, designing new features, or deciding when the product is ready to ship. Don’t get hung up on the idea that everything must be fixed.
Be an information broker
Cast yourself as an information broker, not the quality police. Clear communication is at the heart of successful collaboration. Take the time to listen and gain an insight into your colleague’s roles. Be concise and tailor your information for your audience. You’ll find that your relationships improve and your influence grows.
Joseph Ours is Director of Quality Assurance and Testing Service for Columbus, Ohio-based Cohesion, a full service Technology consulting firm that partners with clients to optimize their technology investments.