In a software development environment, people sometimes unknowingly blame or harm the credibility of the testers. For instance, when a bug occurs in a live system, the first thing that comes to mind is “why didn’t the testers find this?” This is sometimes followed by an initiative to improve the testing process which is usually handed down by management. By doing this, they call into question the testers expertise.

We at Arkieva are not immune to this, however, over the years we have striven to combat this way of thinking by using two approaches. First, when a bug occurs in a live environment we hold the entire product team working on this functionality responsible. This includes the programmers, analysts, product owners and testers. We then review every phase of the development process – from beginning to end.

Additionally, we make a great effort to adjust our language, starting with banning phrases that are ultimately harmful to the testers. Below you will find some examples of harmful remarks and ways to combat them:

  1. “They should have done more testing”
    We have all been in a situation where the software doesn’t work the way we want it to. However, more testing would not have solved the problem. More fixing is what is actually needed. At Arkieva we would consider this an issue that could have been avoided if the user requirement was better understood by everyone involved in the development. In other words, do not be quick to send the product for more testing; instead be sure to communicate with the entire product team so that requirements are clear.
  2. “The release is postponed because the testers found a critical bug”
    Simple comments like this imply that the testers are the bottle neck or that their work is in the way of progress when really they are just doing their jobs. It is important that the testers determine if the product is on par with the company’s standards. Testers are like goalies, finding bugs is like being Tim Howard in the World Cup against Belgium. He did one save after the other, but still a few passed. Tim did not get blamed for the loss, he was celebrated.  The goals against were the responsibility of the entire team. So if your release is postponed, try switching to “The product release is postponed because it is not up to company standards.”
  3. “The work is 99.9% done, it just needs testing”
    This sentence is especially detrimental to the morale and self-esteem of testers. It implies that testing is just 0.1% of the work. This is only said by people who don’t understand what testing really entails (see my post on checking vs testing). That being said it is important to explain to your organization the importance of testers and their role in the overall picture which is what I hope to accomplish with my blogs.
  4. “We are looking for a tester with a test-to-break attitude”
    I spotted this one when browsing job offers from companies that compete in attracting talented testers.  This requirement is again not very flattering for the tester. The testers don’t break the software, it was already broken when they got it. Unconsciously, the testers are being blamed for a defect that they intend to get fixed. These companies should look for testers that have the skills I described in my blog post Can everyone test?

These seemingly innocent questions and remarks can cause low morale and confidence among testers as well as have a negative effect on your product or service. Testers, like many people in other departments, are an integral part of your business and to become a successful tech company you need to invest in your testers and show appreciation for their work.

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