Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Food for thought - what are we here for anyway?

So, I was surfing the testing blogs the other day and came across a post that got me thinking. Let's Destroy The World.

Now sure, destroying the world is kind of what we testers are supposed to do, at least if you ask some of the programmers who've had a sarcastic bug report too many, but seriously - it's our illusions as testers Marlene wants to destroy, because - guess what? - they're counter productive.

Go read the post, and see if you don't agree.

Testing isn't a career choice, and it isn't something people typically want to stay in. Testers are too often underpaid and treated as unskilled monkeys, and if they try to push for better process - you know, the things that prevent bugs instead of causing them - they find themselves having to look for another job all of a sudden.

The question is how to change this mindset.

It starts at home, with us. If we want to be treated like professionals, we first need to act like professionals. Yes, the testing mindset is to find the flaws in everything. It's part of the package. But how we communicate those flaws is up to us. If we treat developers as collaborators in the production of high quality software - software that does what people want it to do and doesn't hide a bunch of flaws, security holes, and doesn't need to be restarted every half-hour because it's done something illegal - we'll get a much better result. If we treat project managers the same way, we get better results. And if we lock ourselves in our silos and bitch about how buggy whatever gets thrown over the wall to us happens to be, we're never going to get better results.

In the end, it doesn't matter how you got there. The world doesn't care - all the world cares is that the results are there. The first step on that journey is finding common cause with the people we work with. Then they can be allies, advocates, and even Speakers To Management (a critically important position that should never, ever be neglected).

So what are software testers here for? Me, I'm in it because I like testing - I like finding bugs and tracking them down to their deepest, darkest roots. To me, that's puzzle solving, which I love. But the true appeal is this: I'm making things better for someone. In a small, significant way, what I do helps to make people's lives and jobs easier.

Maybe that is where we testers need to focus our PR - we make people's lives better. We save them frustration, anguish - and sometimes, we even save their lives.


  1. Ok, and I lived in Australia for a year without meeting you...how?? Well, I'll have to read your book and follow your blog too.

    My friends, Trish and Anne-Marie are in Sydney and blogging about testing as well. I know that Oz is huge, but I hope you get the chance to hook up with them. Oz certainly dominates in the area of cool-people-per-capita.

    Looking forward to your next post!

  2. Hi, Marlena,

    I've actually been in the US for the last 9 years or so, so hooking up with your friends is - alas - not likely.

    Actually with them in Sydney I'd probably have had difficulty getting to them - I was based in Brisbane, a good 12 hour drive north.

    It is a shame we missed each other.