The deadline for Project X is approaching, and we still need to implement four features before we can release. What can we do? We need to keep our customers happy! Do we skip some features? No, we cannot do that. Our customers need these features. Why not speed up the process by testing less? If we skip most of the tests, we can still reach the deadline.
This is a common scenario in the software world. The struggle to reach the deadline in time is real, and quality comes second. Testers are advocating for quality. They want an excellent product with as few bugs as possible. Developers want to create something. If they don’t create anything, there is nothing for the customers either. In this scenario, it is better to release a product with a lot of bugs than not to release it at all.
But what is the role of the tester? What is he doing? What is software testing? These questions are difficult to answer. Often even a software tester cannot explain it. Isn’t it normal that they don’t take us seriously if we cannot explain what our purpose is?
What is our role as a tester? What do we do? Here is the trivial answer. A tester tries to break the software. We are the people who bring sad news every day. Because of us, releases can’t go live. The software is never good enough for testers.
We must move away from this negative connotation. What can we do?
We can make the current state of the product or the software more visible
We still need to be critical about the product, even if all the other people are very enthusiastic.
We need to be the link between the technical and the non-technical people.
We can be the human factor.
We can, for example, consider whether the product we make is ethical. A self-driving car that must choose between crashing against a wall and kill the driver or overriding a child.
We can check if the application is not too slow so that the end-user will not be irritated.
By testing, we gather information about the product. With this information, other people can do their work better. With our information, our managers can make better decisions at project level. Is the project already good enough to sell it? Does the product work as expected? What does not work yet? Are there improvements needed? All these questions are relevant to be answered.
What can we do about the perception that testers are not appreciated? Testers must know what they are going to test. If the risks are identified, testers can base their work on those. However, not all risks are known. This unknown factor must become clear as soon as possible. That is our job as a tester. We search for facts about the product.
We should make sure we did not forget anything by thoroughly testing and examining the product. Furthermore, we can identify the unknown risks with this valuable information. That is the true job of a software tester. We must give the people the right information about the product we test.
We must collect data and should be able to convert this data into a language that our stakeholders can understand. This means that our soft skills are important. The stakeholders need to understand what we say to them. They decide what comes next in the development, so their understanding of that product should be correct.
That is why we must talk about the risks and the value of the product. The following questions are important:
Is it important?
What hinders the completion of the product?
Is this relevant?
With the help of these questions, we can explain what the current state of the product is. The stakeholders will understand what testers do. Testing is more than searching for bugs. We should tell the story of the product. We should share what we found out while investigating the product and explain why this is significant. This way, people we talk to will understand better what we do.
If we talk about the risks and value of the product and not about testing, we will create a better insight into the product. The decision-making will be better after hearing our message. Thus, a tester is becoming relevant to the stakeholders. If you are relevant, you become valuable, and that is our goal. Without testers, we drive through the streets blindfolded. And that will go wrong at some point.