Testing doesn’t innovate?

I was reading an interesting article  that stated:

  • Testing as a skilled profession doesn’t get the respect that it deserves
  • Testing hasn’t kept pace with other parts of IT in terms of innovation.

I don’t have a silver bullet answer to what we can do to improve these two points, but I do have some things I’d like mention that don’t help the process at all.

  1. Stop calling yourself Quality Assurance Engineer. You cannot assure quality, you can only give information about the quality of the product (and I’m not even discussing what ‘quality’ means here). If you’re interested in assuring things, go work at an assurance company.
  2. Stop saying you can prevent bugs. That’s a total fallacy. How can you measure things that haven’t happened?? I can also claim that I stopped a unicorn invasion from plunging us in Word War three. I have seen the unicorns, I swear, and I killed them with my lightsaber. You can’t prove me wrong, but you can’t see the evidence anymore because the unicorns are gone now, aren’t they. For the love of God, please just focus on the things you can actually measure.
  3. Stop thinking only a tester can test. The more you protect the role as it once was, the more ridiculous it gets. Developers test as well. If anything, a ‘tester’ these days only has a focus on quality and will try to improve it in any way that is needed. A ‘tester’ needs to assess the weak points of the team he/she is working with and work together with the team to improve these weak points. With weak points I mean: risk of low quality. These risks are everywhere, but they usually don’t have anything to do with a lack of test scripts.
  4. Stop making testing a delaying factor in your process. It’s no wonder people dislike testing if it is slowing down releases. Solution? Test from the start, BDD, TDD, you know the drill. Everyone in the team should be responsible for testing (i.e: the quality of the product).
  5. Stop clinging to a ridiculous test process just because you don’t want to admit there are unknown unknowns out there. Reality will bite you in the butt anyway. Releasing new software is about taking risks, not about frantically trying to minimise risk. It is okay to feel a little afraid though, even when you have a lot of automated tests. There might always be a black swan lurking around the corner. But…that’s life. In my opinion it is better to make sure your process supports frequent releasing. If bad stuff happens, you can also react fast.

Testing is just part of software development. It isn’t about testers vs developers. It is about a team working together to find pragmatic solutions to the problems we face when trying to develop a quality product. If you resist this movement, then it is time to start a bed & breakfast somewhere in Spain.

I, for one, don’t agree with the statement that testing hasn’t kept pace in terms of innovations. I think testing has been fully accepted in the ‘modern way of working’. It is the ‘old testing’ that has gotten a bad name, and rightly so! 

Testing innovations will never keep pace with other parts of IT if we keep viewing it as a separate silo. I don’t know what we need here. Part of it feels like a discussion of definitions. Should we redefine what it means to be a tester? Should we find a different name for the profession?

I only know it’s an interesting time to identify yourself as a tester!

2 thoughts on “Testing doesn’t innovate?

  1. Hey Maaike,

    I love the post. One of my goals with what I wrote last week was to get people in the testing community talking and taking action. While they come at things in different ways and from different perspectives, I think that James Bach, Lee Copland, Jason Arbon, and James Whittaker all of a lot to offer those of us who want to see testing as an integral part of developing and frequently releasing quality software. There’s also a great book Lean Enterprise that explains how different levels of process and rigor support different stages of a product’s lifecycle.

    If liked last week’s article, be sure and check these out too:



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