Testers: The Hidden Resource

An article by Janet and me just got posted on InformIT – “Testers: The Hidden Resource“. This was an idea that popped in my head one day when I was driving to work, after we had just finished the book. Testers have a lot more to offer than most development organizations realize. See what you think, I’d love to hear your comments. Are we too optimistic or do you agree?

5 comments on “Testers: The Hidden Resource

  1. (Disclaimer: I’m a developer, not a tester. I hope that doesn’t completely taint my viewpoint 😉 I am very interested in improving testing in software development (from unit tests to automated integration/acceptance testing) which is why I subscribe to your feed.)

    Here’s my two cents…

    The message seems to be:

    Testers are awesome therefore involve testers in your process.

    The flaw in this is the first part of that statement, that “testers are awesome”. No doubt there are awesome testers out there, but I think the more appropriate message is:

    Awesome testers should be involved in your process.

    and correlated to that:

    Make sure you hire awesome testers.

    I think in many cases the prophesy “What talented professional wants to work in an unappreciated job, for low pay? This attitude toward testers can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” is already fulfilled and under qualified people are in a testing role. I know in the company I work for, testing seems to be the dumping ground for employees that other managers don’t want, but nobody wants to (or can’t for political reasons) fire.

    I agree that it’s a chicken and the egg type problem, but I think the first step (which you do mention at the very end) is to improve the quality of testing staff and then go on to use those talented testers where appropriate.

  2. Mike, I totally agree with you that there are a lot of crummy testers out there. I’ve been thinking on this for a couple of years – how can we improve the testing profession? One is by providing opportunities that will 1) attract better people and 2) grow the existing testers who might be under-achieving just because nobody’s taken the time to involve them in other development activities, give them some training opportunities and see what they could do.

    IMO, attitude is the most important quality in a tester. If you can find someone with a good attitude, with pride in their work, who cares about delivering value for the customer, you can teach that person the skills they need. Unfortunately, I do run across a lot of “testers” who prefer to hide in a corner, do a little manual testing on whatever comes over the wall, and hope nobody notices them so they can keep collecting a paycheck.

  3. Good article.

    Testing is a mostly thankless profession, and many testers are just waiting for an opportunity to shine. Beside a proclivity to break things, testers have to develop good communication skills as a necessity. Many testers have solid (or budding) programming and analysis skills. These should be encouraged, because testing isn’t always seen as a vertical career path. Pigeonholing your testers is a sure way to lose the the good ones. But allow them to let their creativity loose and both productivity and performance will soar.

    The testers sitting in a corner collecting a paycheck are at least as likely demoralized and bored as they are lazy or incompetent.

    Testers are also the real first customers, and that’s where their greatest value lies, but I know of no organization that takes seriously usability issues or enhancement requests from their testers. It’s a real lost opportunity, because much more than the “business customers” or “stakeholders”, they have insight into the product and market. Of course, testers are also by nature focussed on the negatives, and can sometimes advocate too strongly for perfection when a product owner’s goal is to get good enough out the door.

  4. Thanks Lisa and Janet, for sharing such a nice article on Tester,

    I am a tester and came in this field by choice and not by chance. It’s a profession of Pride and not humiliating job. I am totally agreed with you guys that we are not taking the full advantage of testers and are been always under-estimated.

    The same thing is being seen in the IT educational institutes where everybody wants to go in the development. They don’t want to be tester. I think this just because of the Industries underestimation and lack of awareness about the field that no want be a tester!
    We should come forward and spread awareness about the real strengths required in the testing and challenges what a tester needs to face in the ground level itself (like educational institutes) from where the force comes in the action in Industry.

    As a small step from my side I have already started a “Zeal”- Testing community in my organization and we are seeing that how we can help testers to improve on their strengths and keep them in limelight.
    PS: I am posting your article in our blog 🙂

    Thanks again- Prashant

  5. Hi Prashant,
    It’s so cool that you’ve started a testing community in your organization! IMO, good leadership means making sure that other people know how you and your team have contributed to the organization’s success. It’s so important to demonstrate the value of testers. It sounds like you and I are definitely on the same page on this topic!

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