10 Years in Testing, 10 lessons – Lesson 3

Hi and welcome to another post about what I’ve learned in a decade in software testing.

Today, I will write about something that even some testers don’t seem to realise.

Lesson 3: Quality can’t be assured.

There are testers out there who are fine with calling themselves QA. I think it stands for Quality Assurance, although sometimes it’s slightly better with Quality Assistance.

But think about this for a minute. Does the weatherman assure good weather? Does the doctor assure your good health? NO. Why the fuck would testing assure good quality.

Like I explained in lesson 1: testing yields information. Good testing yields useful information. But testing by itself doesn’t do shit, you cannot test quality in. Therefore, testing by itself doesn’t assure quality nor does it increase quality.

ACTIONS we take with what we’ve learned because of our testing MIGHT increase quality.

And holy shit, what is quality even? It’s not something that can be measured, it’s an opinion, it’s a feeling, it’s a perception that’s gonna differ from person to person. I’m not gonna go into the deep end here, someone else already did that and wrote a book about it called “Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance”. You wanna get philosophical about quality, read it.

I simply don’t like that the focus of testing is on quality: everyone’s focus should be on good quality. It’s even harmful to believe that testers are responsible for quality because it implies that other people are absolved of that responsibility. I don’t give a shit if you’re a manager, PO, developer, designer, or whatever other roles have you. I know from experience that it’s very tough to build an excellent product and that it can unravel very quickly with just a few people not giving a shit. All the testing I do in such a case cannot save the product from sliding down the quality slope.

Testing should focus on risk and information-gathering. With the information we can help our team make decisions.

Just realise that it’s NEVER a guarantee. Testing can never guarantee good quality. No one can.

Thank you for reading, you can find the rest of the lessons here.

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