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Professional Recognition of Testers

I posted something to SWTest-Disuss this morning that reminded me of the Joel Test. ("Do you employ full-time testers?")

Here's the Rant:

I think I've hinted at this before:

IMHO, pure software functionality testers are likely to lack professional status, lack authority, lack respect, be likely to be laid off, etc, etc.

By "pure" I mean "People who don't do anything else." In nursing terms, all a pure tester can do is operate equipment to take readings.

To gain professional credibility, we need to grow the field to be more of a nurse-practioner who is involved from the beginning. The "Uber-Tester" would then test the requirements, be able to understand design issues, perform usability and GUI (Interaction Design) assistance on the prototype before the real code is developed, help the customer write acceptance tests, set up and assist with code review, as well as set up and run system tests. The Uber-Tester could also own the bug tracking system.

Johanna Rothman wrote an article on "First Class Testers" in this month's Better Software that covers the general idea.

IMHO, Software Quality Engineering is a discipline of Software Engineering. (Notice what Cem Kaner is a professor _OF_.) Testing is a subset of that discipline. We will never have have professional recognition among testers until we admit that justification by testing alone is insufficient.

Matt H.
Friday, January 23, 2004

I think these types of issues come down to one of perceived cost. With these "Uber-Testers" will come higher salaries and increase training costs, but I bet you it will lower support and maintenance costs.

The best companies probably already take their QA people that seriously and will continue to be a great company with high quality products.

Unfortunately, most of probably work for not-so-great companies with management that would lack the vision to create such, "Uber-Testers". (although that would be a great place to start out all those MIS graduates ;)

Michael Sica (
Friday, January 23, 2004

After a lot of thought, I really don't think we can get there from here.

The experienced testers we have are cynical (and deservedly so) folks who've realized the best they can do is collect their crummy paycheck and do as little as possible for it.  They are not going to believe us if we say it's different this time, really we want involvement, really we want quality.  Last time someone said that it didn't last through the /first/ imaginary deadline.

The experienced testers we don't have any more include most of the talented ones.  Some became programmers because that was the only way to get money and respect.  Some left the industry to pursue a more fulfilling career in food service.  They're cynics too, and most of them won't come back for love nor money.

The only answer left is to try and drag in new people who don't know any better.  IF you pick only people who are smart and get things done AND you actually treat them with respect for the role despite their lack of experience AND you pay them enough to stick around once they do have the experience AND you get every other programmer in the organization to believe it will work despite all previous experience to the contrary...

It could work, I suppose.  But the minute anyone in the system reverts to stereotype, the ego comes back, the cynicism comes back, they feed on one another, and it falls like a house of cards.

And that's not even "professional recognition," that's respect and optimism.  Professional recognition alone is a joke worse than being titled "Vice-President of X" in a company of three people.

(Wow.  That was rather harsh.  I promise, it's only because I care about the subject so much.  Do forgive my "seventh going on eigth 'last' week of development" cynicism.)

Friday, January 23, 2004

Good points raised above. Made me think of the following:

If we don't have Professional testers, then testers aren't likely to have any political clout (in the company) or develop enough backbone to have integrity.

I.e., if you're depending on, essentially, itenerate (sp?) drifters for quality control, you won't have any quality.

Actually, that goes for most of the organization. SW development (and support) and sales are not "commodity" skills. The persons filling those jobs need to CARE about doing a good job.  daydreaming through thier work will kill a product.

The real Entrepreneur
Friday, January 23, 2004

My first real job in this industry was testing and I wish I could disagree with the cynics. The only way testers get respect is to be smart, resourcefull  and genuinely add value to the product. Since there was no career path or management path in testing, all the people that I've worked with that started as testers quickly got "promoted" to pre-sales (e.g. doing demonstrations), post-sales (consulting, training) or developement. So, the only people who stay in testing for a long period are those who aren't promotable either due to lack of technical or personal skills.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Professional testers don't just test they are involved in:

Helping developers debug

Setting up environments
Working in environments developers never dreamed of (does webshpere have JDBC drivers for ....)

Running the automated test harnerss

Creating Automated Tests

Running Stress/performance Tests

Providing support to E-Services, Tech Writers, Support engineers, sales people

Creating Marketing Collateral (publish the favorable performance tests)

Testers who do these things have no problem  getting professional recognition or money, at least I never did. Yes there are a few "all QA are parasites" type developers, but
hey there are a  few "All developers are parasites" QA's

The Artist Formerly Known as Prince
Friday, January 23, 2004

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