“What is a Tester’s Role in Quality” is a two-part series that discusses quality from both a relationship and process perspective. Part 1 of this article focus is on the relationships the tester builds with developers, product managers, and business analysts and how those relationships can have a positive impact upon the product’s quality. The second part of this article discusses the processes and testing approaches adopted by a Testing Department and how they impact the product’s quality.

There are different viewpoints on a tester’s role in delivering a quality product and what defines quality. Some call a tester “Quality Assurance” implying the testing department is responsible for the product’s quality. Others define quality as being inclusive where everyone has a role in quality from what the sales people promised; the quality of the requirements; the development and testing groups understanding and translation of the requirements; and customer support. The interaction of these departments working together can deliver a better product when information and risk is relayed and discussed. For the purpose of this article, quality is defined by understanding: what is important to the client based upon their business needs, how they use the product, and how the product influence their decision-making.

Based upon an inclusive quality approach driven by customer needs, what is a tester’s role in quality? A testing department can play an important role by the information they provide and questions they ask to the stakeholders, product managers, and developers to help everyone make better decisions in addition to the testing strategies adopted.

Development

An important communication tool between testers and developers is the problem report. Providing the right information at the correct detailed level not only helps the developer in understanding the bug but also the urgency or impact. The problem report is a valuable tool that can have a positive impact on product quality.
(For more information, refer to the article “Guidelines on Writing a Meaningful Problem Report” published in Testing Circus’s November 2011 issue.)

Working with developers to understand coding risks and their testing concerns can help testers identify new tests to perform. The stronger relationships and trust built between testers and developers can open up the gateway for each party to approach the other with concerns and problems. Often these concerns are not discovered during a risk-analysis meeting as more high-level or broad-stroke risks may be identified. A developer and tester working side-by-side whether it is reviewing code or a tester working through a problem with a developer can help identify potential risks or vulnerabilities for testing. This value-add to the product quality should not be underestimated as deeper problems are often discovered before going to production
through these relationships.

Product Management

Working closely with product managers is important to relay risks as early as possible to help them make decisions such as: prioritizing bug-fixes and determining what risk-level they are comfortable releasing the product which may include changing the release date. If the risk level is high but yet deadlines cannot change then identifying what can be tested before going to production becomes an important conversation. This discussion can include:

· Understanding what was promised to the client to ensure those features are tested.
· Agreeing upon lower-risk items that will have limited testing.
· Identify if there are other employees who can assist with the testing.
· The feasibility of performing additional testing in the next release to help manage testing critical areas in the current release.

This information can allow product managers to manage customer expectations as to functionality that will be released and future plans for enhancements or bug fixes. A close working relationship with the product managers can be beneficial to the testing team to understand what level of risk is acceptable which can help target testing approaches. Overall this relationship can have a positive impact upon the product’s quality when better decisions are being made and communicated both within the team and to the client.

Business Analysts

Discussions with the Business Analysts (or employee who is in charge of the requirements) can be beneficial in many ways which can include the following:

· Reviewing the requirements to discuss testing ideas and approaches.
· Understanding important functionality to the customer and how they might use the feature.
· Uncovering any known risks or concerns from a business perspective.
· Discussing testing results that do not meet the requirements to further understand expected behavior.
· Providing feedback on usability and flow of functionality that might be awkward to use.

For new features, request a product demo to gain initial training and insight. A product demo can go a long way in bridging initial requirements to the product in testing and reducing the learning curve. Prior to the demo, read all the requirements and if possible perform initial testing to help identify questions. Potential questions could include:

· What is the main business purpose of this feature?
· What functionality is most important to the client?
· What type of decisions will the client make?

Developing a two-way relationship with the Business Analysts can help them make better decisions for the current release, determine future enhancements, and understand what type of information is valuable to the testing team. All of these positive outcomes can lead to a better customer experience. In some companies the Product Manager may also be involved closely with the Business Analysts on these decisions.

Conclusion

An important factor in product quality is the relationships developed within the project team of testers, developers, and stakeholders. These relationships can provide the Testing Department with valuable knowledge on how the client uses the product and what is important to them plus understand risks from a development perspective. This information allows a testing team to better target their testing. This can result in better information the testers can provide back to the project team based upon clients’ requirements. Testers providing timely information to the correct employees can improve the product’s quality through better decisions and communication.

More on this in the next part.

 

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.testingcircus.com/wp-content/uploads/What-is-a-testers-role-in-quality.png?fit=460%2C225&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.testingcircus.com/wp-content/uploads/What-is-a-testers-role-in-quality.png?resize=150%2C113&ssl=1Bernice Niel RuhlandArticlesTesting Article“What is a Tester’s Role in Quality” is a two-part series that discusses quality from both a relationship and process perspective. Part 1 of this article focus is on the relationships the tester builds with developers, product managers, and business analysts and how those relationships can have a positive impact...
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Bernice Niel Ruhland

Bernice Niel Ruhland is a Software Testing Manager with more than 20-years experience in testing strategies and execution, developing testing frameworks, performing data validation, and financial programming. She uses social media to connect with other testers to understand the testing approaches adopted by them to challenge her own testing skills and approaches. When not exploring the testing world, Bernice enjoys cooking and spending time with her husband living a health-conscious lifestyle. The opinions of this article are her own and not reflective of the company she is employed. Apart from other activities she regularly contributes to Testing Circus Magazine.

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