Software testing is not … part 2.

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Software testing is not … part 1.

I am moving towards next couple of branches from the mind map that I posted in first post of the series of “Software testing is not…”. You can find the mind map following the link up here.

Software testing is not … quality assurance.

I wrote about it in the “Quality guardian” part of Outdated testing concepts, so I will really try not to repeat, but build on the statements made there.

I believe it is more correct to say that quality assurance is not limited to the testing role alone and it’s something that has to be a philosophy and strategy shared by the whole development team, no matter what role. The opposition that I want to distinct clearly here is the old concept of quality guardian, having the right of veto to the release versus a modern approach of team responsibility towards quality. It is obvious that the former model doesn’t work even though many organisations still support the myth.

I’d rather like to think of quality as collective responsibility and I want to emphasize on the term collective responsibility, not shared responsibility. Why do I want to make that important distinction? If we share the responsibility, we may intentionally or not, give bigger part of it to a single member or make another less responsible. Collective responsibility require a collection of all team members’ personal responsibilities on the project. This way, if one person fails to be quality driven and delivers a crappy work, his part of the collection will be missing, therefore not all criteria for collective quality will be present. Also, we are able to determine quickly where things go wrong.

See also  Quality means bugs

To summarize, we are really not in the position to give a god like decisions on whether or not the product should go live, whether or not a bug is critical enough to hold a release etc. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because we can do so much more. Testing is about being aware of the products risks and providing correct information about it. Therefore, we can be quality advocates, but we are not actually assuring it by ourselves. And I’d like to present to you a quote from James Bach’s paper the Omega tester:
You are part of the process of making a good product, but you are not the one who controls quality. The chief executive of the project is the only one who can claim to have that power (and he doesn’t really control quality either, but don’t tell him that).”

And if you are interested in that topic, Richard Bradshaw made an awesome video in his series “Whiteboard testing”, where he explains his view-point on that same issue, you can watch it here: I’m QA. It’s in QA. It’s being QA’ed. You sure about that?

Software testing is not … breaking the product.

I will never get tired repeating what Michael Bolton has to say on that same topic and it is: “I didn’t break the software. It was already broken when I got it.”

It is funny, I know most people say this in ironical way, but yet that sort of speaking is one of that “toxic” phrases that actually do us no good and harm our craft along with stiff like “playing with the proiduct”, “just checking if it works”, “finding bugs”, but I will cover those in the next branches.

See also  Hindsight lessons about automation: Models of automation

We are not actually breaking the product in the meaning of – causing damage that was never there and changing the consistency of the logic of the SUT. Our job is to expose inconsistencies in the logic, misbehaviour, false assumptions in logic or more generally – problems that occur while the SUT is performing its job. So, as you see, there’s no demolition squad, no bombing, no gunfire, we are not that bad, what is our job is – investigation, we have to investigate such behaviour, document the process that causes it and determine what are the reasons why we believe it is actually incorrect and raise the awareness of people who are interested in fixing it or the ones that will be affected if it continues to exist.

That’s it for these two branches of the mind map, please feel free to add your opinion in the comments and share it with your followers if you liked it. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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Senior software engineer in testing. The views I express here are mine, they don't represent any position held by any of my employers. Experience in mobile, automation, usability and exploratory testing. Rebel-driven tester, interested in the scientific part of testing and the thinking involved. Testing troll for life. Retired gamer and a beer lover. Martial arts practitioner.

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