We like to measure.
We do it all the time and everywhere.
What’s your weight? How much money did you spend this week? How long was my run this morning? How many likes did my post get? How long until the work day is over and I can go home to watch TV?
If this is the case, it is no surprise we do this at work too.
How many test cases do I have in my automated regression suite? What is my coverage percentage progress? How many critical bugs did we find this cycle/sprint? How many hours of testing did I manage to run today?
Each of us does it in her or his own special way 🙂
And all of us are wrong in doing so…
Measuring things is dangerous
Maybe you have heard this before, but most probably have not thought it all the way through: Metrics and measurements are a very dangerous tool.
The reason measuring something is dangerous (and in many cases wrong) comes from the fact that whenever you consciously measure something and keep track of it, then you will improve on that specific something you are measuring.
- If you are weighting yourself each day, you will lose weight.
- If you are counting how many tests you ran each day, you will run more tests.
- If you count the number of automated scripts you wrote, you will increase the number of automated scripts.
But just as with everything in the world, one gain needs to come at the expense of something that will lose.
- You’ll weigh less, but are you eating healthy, or are you grumpy all day and making yourself and your surroundings miserable?
- You ran a lot of tests, but did you take the time to talk to your team and understand if there are areas that require urgent feedback?
- You wrote a lot of new scripts, but are they are flaky? and will they break down quickly?
Measuring is a delicate science, maybe even an art, and not something you need to do carelessly. Especially not if you are going to be taking your measurements seriously.
Stop measuring your tests
The problem, to be more specific, is that we tend to measure our tests. We do this in many ways: totals, coverage, runs, re-runs, scripts, etc.
But tests do not say ANYTHING about the quality of your project. At least not without proper context and interpretation.
Even if you are called a Tester by your team, your job is broader than testing, you need to help your team deliver quality products. Testing is only ONE of the tools you use.
If you mistakenly see testing as your goal, and measure tests as your productive output then most probably your value in helping to deliver quality products will be the one to pay the price.
If I am not testing, then what should I be doing?
Who said you should not be testing???
I just wrote that testing is ONE of your tools and a very important tool at that. You should use it, do it smartly and accurately, and provide the feedback that will help your team deliver high-quality products.
The point is to make sure you are not seeing testing as your output, or as the value you provide to your team.
Your value is the help you provide, in many ways, to deliver better products. You do this by testing, but you also do this via a number of things you should be pushing forward in your team:
- Making sure we understand the feature we are going to deliver
- Helping your developers to test for themselves so that they are not dependent on your services
- Defining measurements and monitoring that can be done in production to understand if users are working with our system
- Working on the environments used by your team to test and develop the product
- Communicating with your support team to know what areas need improvement in the eyes of your users
And the list goes on and on and on…
How do you measure your work?
So… you like measuring things.
What can you measure?
Here are some ideas:
- You can measure the satisfaction of your users after the product has been released.
- You can measure the number speed with which a feature was released (especially if you did not test it yourself)
- The number of new tests that were added by non-testers into the automated regression suite
- You can even measure the level of satisfaction of your team with your work (ask them if you need to)
Sometimes you simply need to understand that measuring something will not necessarily say anything about how good or bad you are at doing your work, to begin with.
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With fast professional and methodological support, you can make the most of your time and release products quickly and successfully to meet your user’s needs.