Sunday, January 23, 2022

A world class test team?

Source: XKCD


I've read Simon Prior's blog post Building a world class test team, and I didn't like what I've seen. 

There's the overuse of my least favorite 4 letter word, but putting that aside, I found that I'm disagreeing with the definitions he's using.  His idea of a "good test team" is a safety net role that enables others to disregard their responsibilities and directly contribute to worse software. The "great" test team is the first thing that starts to get close to an almost decent team, as he's added "preventing defects" which I chose to interpret generously as being involved in crafting the requirements and planning the work with the other members of the software engineering group.
Then, the "World class test team" is complete contradiction. It's described as "all of the above" AND some properties of what I would call pretty good testing - not being the scapegoat, coaching, improving other functions work - a lot of things that are not very compatible with owning the large part of the testing effort. Sure, I can imagine this working in some places, but it would be like hammering a bolt that doesn't fit well into place - it will work in the end, but you've invested more effort than you should have, and it will be a mess to deal with it every time you need to change something. 

Instead, I want to suggest another definition - in almost all cases, a world-class testing team is one that has disbanded (or is actively working towards that goal). As much as I like being a tester by role as well as by identification, my main aspiration is to bring the place I work in to a state where they don't need dedicated testers (note - I said "don't need",I didn't mean "just get rid of") - the way to achieve this is to embed the testing mindset and activities as part of every step in the process, from feature definition to deployment. Something very much like Dan Ashby's model of where testing fit in DevOps. It will take a while to help build the necessary infrastructure needed for self-testing and even longer to instill a culture where testing is part of being a professional, but if we want "world class" testing, one that people can learn from, it's this property we are looking for. 

In addition to this, I found two points of disagreement with the practical advice of building a good test team. The first one is using "9 to 5 testers" as a derogatory term. It's covered beneath some layers of "there's nothing wrong with it", but still confounds working reasonable hours with box-ticking and lack of development. When building a team, respecting their private time is super important, and accommodating improvement within regular working hours is key to building  the team. want to fend off stagnation and rigidness? find a term that will not push towards expecting people to put their free time for the business. 

The second issue is the advice to diversify with hiring. It's not a bad idea, but in many cases it's not a viable option - by my experience, finding senior testers is way more difficult than finding experienced coders, and it seems that it is so in other countries as well


1 comment:

  1. Thanks Amit! Glad not everyone agrees with my article. Be happy to discuss further at some point. Reach out to me on Twitter/LinkedIn and we can talk more :)