On Tester Independence, Collaboration and Productivity

I had an interesting Skype conversation with an ex-colleague recently. And had a sense of deja-vu yesterday that prompted this post.

Long story short, testing related discussion turned into a debate on how close a test team should get to the dev team. Whilst I promoted and encouraged the collaboration corner, my friends were fighting and rooting for the independence (no collaboration) corner.

I do have a stand on tester independence and (briefly) it’s this: the test team should have independence in designing and executing their tests, whilst collaborating with the dev team, yet not getting influenced by them.

When I say not getting influenced by dev, I mean not be driven by what and how they’ve coded. From my point of view, a tester can (and should) look at the code to understand it, but should not allow the code (or coder) to drive their tests – completely.

The arguments that was put to me were that of the need for testers and that this collaboration then puts the question of tester productivity into imbalance. It was interesting to hear this, considering both my colleagues happened to be working in an ‘offshore’  engagement model. Upon enquiring further, I learnt that their “fear” was that by collaborating, testers wont find as many bugs and therefore result in need for fewer (or no) testers!

Now, where have I heard this before…

There was klaxon I could hear screaming in my head when I heard both say, “how else would you measure tester’s productivity?”

Meaningless metrics and (a variant of inattentional) bias in one sentence (well, technically a question)!

Me of a year ago would have left the conversation there itself and would have found myself banging my head against a wall. Instead, I just smiled and replied “They’ve been proactive, preventing bugs, trying to build quality right at the start!”. Also adding, “If they’re really good, they’ll be creative, critical and will supply you with further information to improving the product quality!”

This also highlighted an unfortunate truth that still prevails in many workplaces – about testing being the ‘residual’ activity that gets squeezed into whatever is left over from design, development and the heavy documentation phase!

I’ve known of at least a handful of such places/projects that operate on the ‘contract based’, outsourcing/offshoring model that have and are suffering low (test) team morale resulting in high attrition rates.

Having said that, many peers, luminaries – the most notable (that I’ve known of in the Indian subcontinent where these ‘affected entities’ are based) being Pradeep Soundararajan’s venture and his Moolyavans (I’m sure thats what they are called – the valuables) who lead the way in educating the masses and helping elevate the value of a tester and the testing industry as a whole!

Thanks for reading. I’d appreciate your views, critique and comments…

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1 Comment

  1. Hi,
    As in a team of whole deelopers and single lone tester (who is new in to testing),
    How to make myself valuable,recognize and productive and make confidence in the management,that i too belongs to the team?


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