Imagine waking one day with a terrible feeling in your left leg. You go to your Doctor and his first question is “where does it hurt?” He examines you, asks all sorts of related and unrelated questions, and prescribes pills for tendon inflammation.
A couple of days later you are feeling a lot better and you meet a friend for lunch. After talking with your friend in the restaurant for about 10 minutes a waiter comes to the table with two glasses of water and asks for your order. You were busy all this time and didn’t even look at the menu, so you ask the waiter what should you eat? He starts by asking you what type of food you like and what are you in the mood for, he then offers you a couple of interesting options and you decide to go for the beef. After following his advice you are amazed by the quality of the food and the service, so you decide to leave him a large tip.
What do a Doctor, a Waiter and a Tester have in common? All of us provide services for our customers!
In Testing we sometimes forget we have customers, and I am not talking about the end users of the product. Our customers are the people within the Organization who require our testing services; quoting James Bach: “The ultimate reason testers exist is to provide information that others on the project need to create things of value…”
Our customers are the Development Team, Product Managers, Project Managers, Customer Support, Higher Management, and all the rest of the people who rely on our services to provide them with Visibility and Information around the Quality of the Product and the Process followed to develop it.
What do I mean when I say we forget about our customers? Many times we plan and run our testing projects without asking our internal customers where does it hurt?
When was the last time you asked the following questions before starting a project?
– How is the development project structured and when do you require feedback for each individual feature so that you can work on it most effectively?
– What are the main risks areas in the application that we want to clear first?
– What are the most important features in this release, those we want to test most thoroughly? What product areas will not be very important for our users, so we can lower their testing priority?
– What support information do you require with the product to help our end users deploy faster and easier?
We don’t expect our customers to have many inputs into how to test the product in the same way a professional Chef does not get cooking strategy lessons from his clients. Still, like in the case of a Doctor, the only way to do our job effectively and to satisfy the needs of the Organization is by understanding what’s needed and important, consulting with the different stakeholders involved and asking them how we can help them to do their jobs better.
We provide a service and the only way to provide the correct one is by asking our customers where does it hurt?
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