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Product focus with testers

I've recently noticed in my company that whilst it's generally commonplace for developers to work on one product at a time, it doesn't appear to be the case for testers.

For example, although I regularly juggle around various releases of a product in the design, implementation and unit test stages, I'm always focused on one product. By contrast, our testers don't focus on one thing, but instead chop and change around as and when there's a resource for it.

This seems a bit silly to me, because our new star tester, who's been getting on really well with me, (and finding lots of UI bugs nobody ever thought of trying before) has suddenly announced he's going to be moved onto testing another product because it's "higher priority". This isn't the first time a test resource has disappeared in a puff of logic either - and I can't assume when I do need somebody to test my code that I'm going to get the same guy back, there just seems to be a common pool of people who get dished out as and when.

What do you think? Should testers stay focused on one product like developers, or can they chop and change?

Better than being unemployed...
Monday, March 10, 2003

I am tester myself and I can say that, as developers don't like shifting from product to product, neither do we...

Testers should be able to focus on one product over longer period of time... Ideally, one triade product manager/developer/tester should stay together on feature trough whole cycle...

My company keeps testers on one job till the ship date (i.e. doesn't force them to other jobs)...

Srdjan
Monday, March 10, 2003

I would guess change is good, testers must get jaded to the way something is supposed to work too. I often get my kids to test something, and though I'm sure a professional tester is better at finding bugs, they find a lot too. Even things like not understanding what a widget is for says something...

Then again, we've always been a bit unscientific with testing, so all this with a grain of salt.

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 10, 2003

You have testers? The luxury...

Seriously, where I work some products have had the same testers for years, while the product I'm working on now have been seriously resource starved for testers for most of the product life-time... we developers even had to help out with the qualification tests (not that I'm above that, but I just don't think it's right that the developers should be qualifying their own work).

BC
Monday, March 10, 2003

There is also a slight problem with having testers follow a product for a long time. Where I work our system goes back 18 years, and we've got guys who've been testing it that long. The problem is that they are so used to some of the stupid things that our product does (stuff that got in because it was what was possible 15 years ago on our custom embedded box with <128K of ram) that they don't consider whether it makes sense or not anymore (on a Linux based system with 40 gig HD and 256 meg of ram). Ideally you should have folks follow a product for a while (to provide continuity), but if all a tester ever does is one product, he's probably missing things that a fresh pair of eyes might pick up on.

Michael Kohne
Monday, March 10, 2003

Wouldn't testing the same product for years become awfully boring? My company doesn't have any dedicated testers, and I get tired of repeatedly testing my code whenever I implement new features. Rotating between products sounds much more bearable.

Before someone makes the suggestion, we are running automatic tests. However, I still prefer to hammer every feature before I check in any code, and having testers wouldn't change that approach.

Julian
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Michael,

would you advocate the same for the developers, or is this "fresh eyeballs" strategy only good for QA folks?
I have also met quite a few instances of developers that seem to develop "like it's 1999".

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Developers aren't quite the same as testers.

Testers are looking for oddities and discrepancies.  They're using the application from a (hopefully) fresh perspective, to catch bugs that the developer can't see because the bugs are crouched right in front of the developer's face.

As a result, if you keep the same tester on the same application for years, s/he might stop seeing certain types of bugs.  It makes some sense to move testers around, to keep them fresh.

On the other hand, you don't want to whip testers from one application to the next each week.  There's a happy medium.

Brent P. Newhall
Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Our testers get moved around a bit too, but the same testers come back to the same testing when there is more testing to be done. They are fairly serious about the testing here, its more of a case that testers multitask between projects unless one project is sufficient to keep them 100%.

Just like a developer builds up a lot of history with his code, testers have the same thing I reckon.

It is pretty stupid throwing testing resources like that around.

Richard
Thursday, March 13, 2003

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