Often we are asked to explain what a tester does and whether someone might be a good fit for the job. It can be challenging to explain to someone without making it sound too simplistic such as a checking job or so difficult that they are intimidated. I would like to address a few questions and challenges I face as a Software Testing Manager. In the prior issues I addressed the following questions:

October and November 2012: Do you think I could be a tester?
December 2012: How can I learn to test?
January 2013: How do I know when to stop testing?

In this article I would like to discuss the importance of building relationships to help you identify the right person to ask questions and gather information. Typically a new tester will develop a few close relationships with the testers who are acting as mentors during her initial training. Most likely questions will go back to them. The mentors may identify other employees to review problems and intended functionality. Together the mentor and new tester may discuss what they are witnessing in testing with that employee. Learning how to test can be a bit overwhelming with so much to learn about testing and the product that building relationships may not be at the top of your priority list. Initially that might be okay if you have mentors that are working closely with you.

As you build your confidence with testing techniques and the product, you do need to start building relationships to become independent from your mentors. I recommend you start building these connections as soon as you can. Below are general recommendations for why you need to build different relationships. The departmental structure and job titles may be different in your organization.


Tester and developer relationships are critical and I believe they should be communicating on a daily basis. Avoid getting yourself into an “us versus them” mentality that results in division and the blame game. A collaborative working relationship where you can discuss questions and risks with the developer is important. As you foster these relationships, the developers may bring risks and concerns to your attention. Ultimately, this working relationship will help you define testing paths, further understand risks, and can influence how much time you spend testing a problem.

Business Analysts

In many organizations, the Business Analysts gather the requirements, create screen layouts, and translate this information to the developers and testers. This is another important relationship as you will have many questions on the requirements since there will always  areas that require more explanation. Requirement documents should be considered as a starting point, because you should be identifying questions as you are testing. Therefore, having the ability to work with the Business Analyst who wrote the document is important to understand customer expectations and reviewing test results to ensure the functionality is working as intended. Many times the conversations you are having with the Business Analyst may also include the developer or other departments to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate.

Business Users

The business users will have direct contact with the customers in answering their questions and resolving problems with the product. Often they understand how the customers use the product that might not be evident to the testers. How many times has a feature been deployed to production to be returned with problems found by the customer? Could any of these problems been identified during testing if we knew more about how the customer would use the feature?

Product Management

The Product Management department often creates the road map or the product’s vision for new functionality. They may hold customer focus groups to understand how the customers are using the product and where they can improve the features. Your Product Managers may not help you understand the product’s functionality but it is good to know the product’s vision. This can help the testers understand if new technology is being introduced allowing them to start researching potential testing approaches. If a more mature part of the product is going to be changed, it can give the testers time to refresh their knowledge on the product’s functionality.


Your company may have one testing department making it easier to build relationships with all the testers – depending upon the number of testers. Some companies divide their testing into multiple departments under different testing managers. Try to have a contact in each department, testing approach (i.e., load testing), or product expertise (i.e., data processing) allowing you to tap into his or her knowledge. Ideally you want to develop strong relationships with other testers as they can help you understand the product and different ways to test.


https://i2.wp.com/www.testingcircus.com/wp-content/uploads/Question-Mark-software-testing.jpg?fit=400%2C228&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.testingcircus.com/wp-content/uploads/Question-Mark-software-testing.jpg?resize=150%2C114&ssl=1Bernice Niel RuhlandArticlesTesting ArticleOften we are asked to explain what a tester does and whether someone might be a good fit for the job. It can be challenging to explain to someone without making it sound too simplistic such as a checking job or so difficult that they are intimidated. I would like to address a few...
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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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