Using a Bazooka to kill a Fly

I was talking this week to an R&D Manager friend who explained to me that they don’t really need the overhead and bureaucracy of a QA Team; and so he is willing to suffer some bugs, delays and rejects from letting his developers do all the testing, and tracking everything in one “simple” (but endless) Excel sheet he shares with his team.

Since I actually respected the guy I was shocked (and even a bit hurt!) by his comment.

My friend explained to me that his last “QA Manager” had come to the Company with some big backing from Higher Management, and he started wasting everybody’s time and efforts on endless meetings, worthless processes, and expensive tools that made people spend up to half their time in bureaucratic tasks and not on things related to the product or the existing customers.

In principle, this sounds very familiar from the years I worked and consulted for large Enterprise Companies.  And in many places this is the only way in which you can coordinate the work for tens of internal teams, hundreds of products, and thousands of developers & testers.  The big problem was the this QA Manager was hired to work on a 5-Developer start-up company…

We need to realize that our job as testers is to help the Organization based on its needs and constraints.  In the same way you would not use a Bazooka to Kill a Fly (chances are the fly would continue flying, but you wouldn’t), we cannot use extremely structured processes and complex tools to fit informal environments that need extreme flexibility in order to survive.

QA phobia

I know my R&D Manager Friend will grow out of his QA phobia and will eventually find the right QA Tools and QA people for his company, but this is an example of a mistake we make again-and-again.
When we come to a new place / team / project we need to understand how to help and how not to hurt.  Our job is to work side by side with development to provide visibility via our testing efforts (thanks to Linda Wilkinson for her comment) into the product, project and process.

If our effortshurt the development process (more than they provide value to it) then we are definetly doing something wrong.

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One Response to Using a Bazooka to kill a Fly

  1. Yaniv Iny May 15, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    In today’s reality there are many QA Managers that came from a large organization to a small startup.

    Being able to adjust yourself to the company (and not the other way around), is one of those things that makes you a good and pragmatic QA Manager.

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