Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Priorities Tango

Much as I respect my employer, they really need to work on their priorities. Somehow, when it comes to the eternal squeeze between the irresistible force of late delivery (usually for very good reasons) and the immovable object of hard delivery dates, we testers end up with the wonderful situation where everything is higher priority than everything else.

We end up doing bug triage tango, deciding whether or not the app exploding in your face and selling your soul to Hell is a critical issue - and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes, we have to ship because the previous release also exploded and sold your soul to Hell, so it's an existing bug and therefore isn't getting fixed for this release.

Do we like it? No. The programmers probably don't like it either - we don't usually have time to ask them when we're churning bug-fixes.

Of course, better planning and prioritization at the front end might save us from this kind of thing - but with a multi-million-line codebase going back over 20 years (yeah, like any established software) - these crunches accumulate and get nastier each time they happen.

Of course, by now I think Hell owns our souls and our customers souls several times over, courtesy that bug that didn't get fixed. The argument over who actually gets what when soul payment comes due should be interesting.


So, I test software for a living. My employer is a small-medium sized business that produces software for other businesses. I'm not planning to get more specific than that because I'm going to be describing the work in my inimitable fashion - which means people could get offended.

Everything I say will be as truthful as I can make it, given that I'm going to be munging anything I think might identify individuals or my employer.

The cast:
Da Boss - department manager. Very good at working with programmers, hasn't had to deal with a QA team from the inside before. He's learning. No-one's enjoying it.

The Me - experienced QA/tester with sidelines in just about everything, including programming. I prefer testing. Got dragged into office politics because I was too dumb to avoid it.

Ms Quiet - very experienced QA/tester, prefers to keep head down and avoid anything resembling office politics.

Testeriffic - very experienced QA/tester, particularly good at manual testing

Duude - laid back QA/tester, rarely seen actually working but the work gets done. It's a mystery.

Himself - highly experienced QA/tester who hasn't really settled in yet.