“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 (published in Testing Circus December 2011 issue) focused on the relationships the tester build with developers, product managers, and business analyst and how those relationships 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.

Influence on the Process

Testers can have an influence on changing a process to ensure they receive the necessary information to prepare testing strategies. For example if a testing department is not aware of the future direction of the product, they cannot prepare by researching potential testing approaches and risks. The impact to the product quality can be significant when considering that the planning will need to be conducted during the allocated testing time, reducing the amount of time to perform testing.

As testers develop relationships and a reputation for providing reliable, valuable information, there are opportunities to influence future projects. Ask for invitations to planning meetings as new features are being discussed to allow the testing team to provide information up-stream. Take this opportunity to discuss potential risks and testing approaches based upon the information provided and past testing experience. Ensure the meeting owners understand the importance of the testers being involved at this stage to provide input on risks, functionality, and timelines to secure future invitations.

It is often difficult for testers to estimate how long it will take to test a feature since there are so many unknowns. But if you are in a planning meeting and the timelines discussed are too aggressive, at least there is an opportunity to raise that concern.
Often we hear the client needs a new feature within a certain time period. If that time period is too aggressive, try to understand if features can be delivered in phases or if there are alternative approaches to meeting the client’s expectations. Ultimately, having reasonable timelines will benefit the client with a better quality product.

Lack of Influence on Decisions

If you believe the voice of the Testing Department is not being heard, try to determine the reason(s). Review when information on a problem was provided and was acted upon to determine ways to improve future communication.

– Is there a way to provide the impact, after the fact, as a lesson learned to reduce the same problem from reoccurring?
– Analyze the approach taken in providing the information. Was the impact to the quality or customer experience clearly articulated? Could the information have been relayed differently?
– Was the information directed at the correct audience who had the authority to make a decision? If the problem was a critical bug that was not properly addressed, consider if you provided sufficient information about the bug’s impact on the customer
and the business.
– Did you have all the facts and did you perform sufficient research for the questions asked?
– Did you need more reinforcement on the actual problem and severity from another department?
– If the problem was not being taken seriously, was there someone else to escalate the problem too?
– Was the message relayed more than once trying different approaches to bring across information on the critical bug?

Another option is to write down what you can remember of the conversation(s) or approach taken to provide the information. Assess what you know now and what you would do differently next time. Then when the next situation occurs, remember the lessons learned and tap into them to make a better argument or ensure the right stakeholders hear the message.

Performing Testing

How a testing department defines testing strategies influences product quality. Identifying the risk areas of a feature is  important to ensure the riskier areas are tested earlier to ensure sufficient time to work with Business Analysts and development on bug fixes and retesting. This risk assessment can be conducted from both a development and customer perspective to help prioritise testing.

Understanding risk is always important to ensure that too much testing time is not allocated to the wrong tests. Focusing more testing time on areas important to the client can help ensure those features meet the client’s needs. If the testing effort becomes larger than expected, it is important for the tester to let the Business Analyst or Product Management know of the time constraints to ensure that reducing testing on certain components is acceptable. Do not get into a situation where a tester assumes that reducing testing is okay only to find out that a critical bug was missed because of that decision.

Testing Environment

When new functionality is being introduced or there are major changes to existing functionality, determine if there are areas that cannot be properly tested because of the test environment. For example, does the test environment have the required data? Some test environments store a limited amount of data reducing the testing range. Understanding any differences between the client’s production environment and test servers plus reviewing the client’s workflow process is important in assessing risk and approaches to mitigate risk. Not being able to properly test a feature can have a negative impact on the product’s quality. The sooner the tester raises these concerns and their impact the sooner solutions can be implemented.

Conclusion

The Testing Department can influence the product quality through the relationships developed within the project team, providing feedback earlier in the planning process, and through testing strategies employed. Understanding any barriers to the Testing Department’s voice being heard should be identified in order to determine different approaches or relationships to develop. It is important for the testers to be invited to the planning meetings to provide feedback on functionality and to plan testing strategies prior to performing testing. Reviewing test environments and understanding the customers’ workflow is important to ensure their needs are being addressed. Ultimately, these different approaches to relationships, communication, improved processes, and testing strategies can have a positive impact upon the product’s quality.

 

 

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 (published in Testing Circus December 2011 issue) focused on the relationships the tester build with developers, product managers, and business analyst and how those relationships have a positive...
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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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