Many testers feel frustrated when they are asked what is their Job, and specially about what do they contribute to the overall development project.
So, think about it… What are you expected to contribute in the scheme of your Product Development Project?
Are you supposed to catch all bugs before releasing the product to the world?
I think Not. It is exuberantly expensive to reach this level of bug-free-environment, and 99% of the projects don’t need it anyway.
Do you need to run as many tests as possible?
The answer again is NO! If you could get the same information (or confidence level) about the product without running a single test you would still be doing your Job – maybe even in a better way!
The real added value we provide as testers is something called Testing Intelligence™: Timely, accurate and actionable information about the status of your product and project.
In simpler terms (as I defined in a past article), we need to provide correct and timely visibility into the product and process, that will help the Organization make the correct tactical and strategic decisions.
I call it Testing Intelligence since the process and its outputs have many similarities with what is known as Military Intelligence:
1. It is based on the principles of gathering information from multiple sources, and mixing it to create a model representing the current situation and status.
For example, in order to give a complete estimation of your project you will use the data from:
– Test results showing pass vs. fail numbers and percentages
– Total number of bugs opened, fixed and closed
– Load benchmarks for your application under different levels of load
– Test execution and bug resolution trends to indicate the progress of the project and the way it is coming along based to the original plan
– Historical data for similar projects, to serve as a base for comparison
You will then take all this isolated data points, you will create direct and indirect correlations, and then transform it into structured information (e.g. a Report) that provides a better image of the product’s status and of the project’s chances of meetings its schedules and targets.
2. The results of your analysis cannot be considered an exact science – by you or your stakeholders.
Since you are constantly making assumptions based on incomplete data, it is normal to expect to be wrong part of the time.
Each statement provided should come with an associated level of risk (and in some cases an explanation of the source of such a risk) that will allow your stakeholders to make more balanced and informed decisions.
3. The way you understand the situation will change as you become aware and analyze new data and information.
You should not be afraid or ashamed to modify your conclusions and provide an updated model that describes the situation better, you need to explain why this happened and how it affects your previous estimations.
4. The way you present the information needs to be defined by the needs and likes of your stakeh0lders.
If they expect to see only numbers and a short conclusions don’t go around publishing long pages full with explanations. If on the other hand they like reaching their own conclusions, you should provide them a report with your data, followed by your assumptions, and ending with your conclusions; then you should work with them and let them agree or disagree with your results.
In any case the important thing is to give them what they want, but to make sure you don’t paint a picture prettier or uglier based on their personal believes or interests.
Working with incomplete information does not give you the right or an excuse to make a sloppy job. It is actually the reason why your professionalism, self-criticism, and 360˚ understanding of the situation is even more important for your work and the well-performance of your Company.
Be proud to be a Tester, your job (if done correctly) is more complex and demanding than most of the other members of your team.
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