I read a couple of comments on blogs and linked-in discussions where the underlying message was that “we as a QA group have a very limited effect on the decisions of the development team, and in the end is the programmers who make the call to release buggy software.”
Guys, this is a lie! The lie we tell ourselves when we need to rationalize why we are not doing our jobs right.
As testers our job is not to be the gate-keepers standing in the way of buggy software from being released. But on the other hand we should not limit ourselves to reporting bugs and then keeping quiet in the corner while the “big boys” decide on whether the product can be released now or later. If this is the way it works in your company then the problem resides on YOU and not in the rest of the team.
Respect needs to be earned
If your team does not listen to you it might be because you have nothing interesting to say. Take the time to understand what is the value you are providing. If all you do is write down bugs, then don’t expect them to come and ask for your opinion on the readiness product.
If on the other hand you are constantly providing feedback on the product and its functionality, doing this based on your understanding of the users and the business needs, you will see how developers and product managers alike start adding you to their decision forums and seeking your opinion constantly.
Define your job as providing information and visibility and you will be adding more value than simply reporting bugs. The amount of respect you get depends on the value you add to the team.
No one likes a “party pooper“
I’ve seen many test engineers who are happy to find bugs that end up delaying the product. They feel pride in walking to the development manager with their chest up high and telling him about the show-stopper bug that will certainly delay the product for another 2 weeks.
Sometimes there is nothing we can do about it, part of our job is to deliver the bad news to the team but there are always more than one way to do this.
As a team player you need to “want to deliver the product” and the value it will provide to your team and your users.
If you don’t want to release on time, chances are you are not going to do it. But if you work release-driven, you will proactively plan your tests with the development team in order to “attack” the high risk areas first and find the complicated bugs as early as possible allowing enough time to fix them before the release is due out.
Change your mind-set and become a team player. Understand that you are working with the programmers and not against them.
Don’t be “the boy who cried wolf”
Lastly, many tester like having all their bugs fixed (who doesn’t it!). But we need to understand that business value comes first and so it’s OK that not all our bugs will be fixed. This is specially true for bugs that are found late in the process or bugs with low user-value.
Your job as a tester is not only to report all bugs, but also to give them a severity and to provide information that will help other team members asses your view. If you make a fight for every bug you open (or if you give high priorities to all of them), soon enough people will stop paying attention to your bugs or to the times you take a stand to defend them.
Choose your fights and concentrate on the things that matter.
The change starts with you!
Make no mistake, the first step on getting recognition starts with you. Take the time today to understand how you can add more value to your team and to your product.
In the beginning it will take time, and you may even get some strange comments from your team on the “new approach” you are taking, but if you are on the right track soon enough people will start changing their attitude towards your work and you will see the difference.
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