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We Don’t Need Testers, Anyone Can Test! – A Developer Testing View

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Do you agree with this statement or not? What is the importance of testers and their role in the software world? I learned some of the answers as a developer testing software.

My first student job was working as a software developer on small waterfall project. It was fun, I learned a lot and I thought this was the path I want take in my career. Then the project got bigger and bigger and suddenly we needed a full-time tester. Because until then, only developers tested some parts of the application and that was it.

Developer Testing

Also during my work as a developer I heard a lot of statements such as: “Developers are elite”, “No one wants to test, because it’s not ‘cool’ enough”, “Testing is easy, anyone can do it”, “Without developers, there is no software. Developers are more important than testers”, “You are born to be a tester, learning doesn’t help”, “Testing means only clicking randomly” and much more.

So who will test the application? The student, of course 😉

I had no real experience in this field, I only knew how to develop computer programs and prove that they work, but suddenly I must prove that programs don’t work and my perspective completely changed. I was left to “sink or swim” and with all these negative assumptions I started to be a tester.

Despite the stress, the job was challenging, so I decided not to allow the assumptions to interfere with my work. It was hard; developers and managers sometimes wouldn’t listen, customers wouldn’t as well, and I started to wonder why is it like that? Who is to blame?  Why didn’t I hear about testing as a very important part of software development in college? Why managers don’t see the importance of having testers and testing?

Importance of Testing

Once I told my colleagues what I think about all this I found out I’m not alone. Our company started a new department called QuEST community. People who initiated its founding understood the importance of testing. This community helped me a lot. Now I have always somebody to seek for advice, we can exchange our experience, how to deal with problems, we encourage ourselves to learn and educate in testing field and together we have achieved in our company the better recognition of testers in the software world.

Looking back, I see how far I have come. From student tester on a waterfall project to test lead on an agile project. During my path I discovered the passion for automated testing, because it combines programming skills and proper knowledge of a tester.

Now, I disagree with the title and I’m saying: We need testers! We need people devoted only to testing, because the mindset of a tester and a developer is completely different! Testing is not just clicking randomly! You need to think and analyze the application you’ll test, you need to design test process relating on a type of project: it is different for waterfall and for agile project! And as a tester, you have to represent the customer, the end user who’ll use this application! You are responsible for not only the usability of the application, but also for quality! So we, testers, have an important role in the software world.

Recognition of Testers

Based on my experience, my advice on how to achieve the recognition of testers in your company is:

–          First get to know other testers in your company,

–          Start to hang out on regular basis,

–          Start to learn from each other, and talk to each other: what the problems are and how to solve them,

–          Start to talk and write a blog about what are you really good at, so that others in the company (project managers, developers..) will see why they need you,

–          Be positive and when you hear a joke like: “Testing means only clicking randomly.” share your experience what is your job really like with your colleges,

–          Be proactive, start sharing and showing to your team what you’re doing and maybe even organize a contest for all PMs and developers to compete in testing. The options are unlimited 😉

For conclusion I would like to say: stay tuned with your heart, be passionate about your work, never stop learning and listening, be open, positive, and never forget the Testers Code of Ethics! Now go, and find a bug or two! 😉

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Sandra Valantič studied Computer Science and Mathematics at UNIVERSITY OF LJUBLJANA, Faculty of Computer and Information Science and Faculty of Mathematics and Physics. She has also been working for 3 years in software industry as a student developer and now the last 2 years in Comtrade company as a tester on software projects for different domains: Public services and Finances.

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One comment to We Don’t Need Testers, Anyone Can Test! – A Developer Testing View

  1. Erkki Pöyhönen says:

    I agree and disagree 🙂

    I have on my 21 years in testing tried to highlight how wonderful the testing team has been, or how important we are — and failed badly. Also on other occasions I have had a pleasure to work on organisations where testers have been valued a lot, and the testing has added lots of value to development effort and that was also acknowledged.

    You personal account reminds me of two things I’ve learned the hard way:

    – TestING and testERS are not the same thing; I’ve seen some very capable teams doing very well with no _tester_ involved – they still did lots of testing and managed to work outside the typical developer stereotype role that you described above. On most cases in both product R&D and IT context the organisation really needed dedicated testing persons with suitable attitude, skills and tools. And inäbetween is the time when a test coach or test manager makes the difference by helping development teams deliver good enough quality but still the testing “muscle” has been developers. So testing should be present on various ways but it can be organised in so many ways on different situations. Critical to cuccess is to step back from the actual situation and “separate objective from the means”, to find out situational and concrete solutions for _this_ project ruight now, in order to fulfill the abstract needs of the organisation.

    – The other major issue is that testers owning (or being responsible for) quality in general or some special attribute of quality, like usability or security is not working in the general case (frankly have never seen this work in sustainable form). If testers start claiming ownership of quality it leads to a situation where management and developers are not owning it, and not feel responsible for quality of the deliverable. Organisations typically need some function to own the quality (of both en d results and processes to produce the results) and naturally that should be on the management. If some elements in the organisation change between projects it means there is lower continuity and the organisation does not learn = does not improve. If every project starts into a void with very little structure to support it (process, practices, support roles, tools) the quality discussion boils down to the lowes common denominator — the kind and amount of faults. Testers identify faults and typically aims to chase them towards a fixed and verified state as fully as possible before the system delivery — so they become quite easily responsible for quality in general. It can be an analogy to a situation where accountants who find out that company is not having enough money are assumed to take care for its sales 🙂 There are huge amounts of effort in organisations doing the “left shift”, meaning to move quality responsibility for the development. They can only work if the testing is responsible for detecting where quality is but it is a management issue to drive quality to the direction beneficial to the organisation, not testers to make miracles. Feels like “puhing with a string”, soen’t it.

    Lastly about being valued: I agree fully that tester networking is a critical step to support testers and making the testing visible. Between 2000 and 2006 I had on my task to support all testers of Nokia by helping them to get the tools, training and networking they need. Best payback was on networking, and it enabled the testers to affect much more than they could alone in their teams.

    But no gimmick or marketing campaign can make testing more valued. I see no other option to be valued more, than work to add more value for the organisation, tie connections between the testing stakeholders, and help them get what they need. And eventually it will be much easier if the management is responsible for quality, they will come to you for ideas how it could be improved. 🙂

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