Friday, August 1, 2008

Don't Be Part of the Problem

I was reading blogs, as one is wont to do on a Friday morning, and ran across this entry about "The Test Test". The gist of the article is that there are certain things that you should look for in an organization to determine if your test group has a chance of success. There's a lot of good stuff in there, but in the end it boils down to two things:
  1. Does this organization consider shipping a good product important?
  2. Is there respect for the testing organization?
First of all, I completely agree that an organization that is predisposed to consider testers valuable is going to be more fun to work in and more likely to ship a product that testers (and everyone else!) can be proud of. However, I get frustrated sometimes because I watch testers set themselves up for disrespect and failure.

Sometimes, we are the architects of our own bad situations.

So yes, please look for an organization that passes The Test Test. But also ask yourself if your attitude is part of the problem. 

  • Seeks to feel inferior
  • Carries a chip on your shoulder larger than a baseball bat
  • Makes derogatory comments about developers who only see the "happy path"
  • Gives vague test cycle estimates without reasons why
  • Cannot explain testing goals and what they mean
In other words, if you wander around muttering about how poorly you're treated, or you walk into a new job expecting to have to claw your way to equality, then you will be treated poorly, and you will be treated as inferior. Approach a situation as if respecting test is the only option, and the rest of the organization is much more likely to simply fall in line. Keep in mind that your role is to educate, to help people understand the value you bring and continue to bring. Allowing an organization to remain ignorant of what test provides is your own fault. So fix it!

Like almost anything, creating and maintaining an organization that will enable testers to be successful requires actions from both sides:

The Organization's Responsibilities:
  • See The Test Test. I can't put it better.
Your Responsibilities:
  • Education: Help people understand in their terms what test provides. For the sales guys, speak in money terms. For the developers, speak in terms of fewer fires to fix things in the field.
  • Cordiality: Be polite and pleasant to be around, just like you want people to be polite to you. I don't care what your role is, there's no cause to be rude!
  • Justify Yourself: Be prepared to explain why your estimates are what they are, or why you test what you're testing.
  • Provide Value: This part I hope we can all do!
  • Show Results: Now that you're providing value, make it public. Show the number of support calls decreasing, show the number of patches in the field dropping.
So remember, there are two sides to this problem. Look for an organization that's going to create prerequisites for success. Look to yourself for the same thing. And then let's move on, all of us, better than before.

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