Is it Wise to hold Testers Culpable for a Buggy End-Product?

In this agile era, where software development speed and quantity have become as significant as software quality assurance, can testers be held solely liable for a buggy software? Admittedly, it’s an unjust proposition.

First of all, although it is significant that testers should have the critical testing skills to perform their jobs competently, yet there are a number of factors beyond a tester’s control that can contribute to a defective product:

  • Improper Requirement Specifications by Clients
  • Insufficient Software Testing Time
  • Testing Fatigue in case of Repetitive Tests
  • Low Testing Budget, and a Small Testing Team
  • Frequent Requirement Changes
  • Inception of New Bugs as Old Bugs are Fixed
  • Organizational Factors
  • Extremely Large Application
  • Human Factor

For any bugs caused due to these factors, it would be inappropriate to put the tester’s job in jeopardy. Moreover, shifting the entire blame on testers when the end product is the result of multiple teams working together, in this agile era, would seem unfair, and may lead to these possible repercussions:

1. Testers start working in silos and display disharmony with the developers, as opposed to working in tandem with them. Besides, they may start considering themselves as being solely accountable for a superior quality product, and hence, produce a number of non-significant bugs without being able to fully comprehend the developer’s viewpoint/software QA testing requirements.

2. Designing software that is testable and maintainable is as much an art as it is a science, and so is writing a clean code. Developers, hence, will easily escape the blame of constructing poor quality code, along with all the other stakeholders, who are continuously involved in the development process. This can potentially deteriorate the developer’s and other stakeholders’ work quality.

3. Experienced testers may get undue significance as they may start considering themselves as the top authority in passing the end product, and hence, may act overconfident, leading to careless mistakes. At the same time, they will feel a lesser need to acquaint themselves with the latest tools and techniques.

4. Testers may get accused unnecessarily for errors beyond their control, leading to demotivation, and poor performance. These factors can be: ambiguously defined requirements by the stakeholders, low time availability to test the software, last minute requirement changes, and more.

Overall, these factors hinder testers’ further learning and the overall software QA testing process by demoralizing the testers and thus making the software more vulnerable to bugs. Team collaboration and knowledge sharing can play a significant role in combating this issue, and in developing a healthy organizational culture that embraces quality software. The right synergy and open communication between different stakeholders lay the foundation for the same.

There are a few simple ways to improve collaboration and enhance software quality:

1. Embracing a Collaborative Work Culture: Involving testers and developers in jointly understanding the requirements, researching about customers, building user stories and creating unit tests imbibes a spirit of collective accountability. Open communication leads to healthy discussions and a better-integrated team.

2. Cross Training Developers and Testers – Knowledge sharing sessions between testers and developers about the coding process and test suites and strategies can help the teams to identify and fix more bugs. Testers will be better aware of the coding languages, and developers will write better codes based on the understanding of the test suite and testing methods.

3. Jointly Understanding the Bigger Picture – When both QA and developers understand the bigger picture of the project, it becomes easier to prioritize tasks in sync with the business goals. It also assists in determining the right solutions for the critical issues in the product.

4. Embracing Behavior Driven Development (BDD) & Test Driven Development (TDD) – BDD, when used along with TDD, shortens the feedback cycle, enabling developers to deliver user stories that exactly match the business requirements.

To conclude, both testers and developers share the same goal of delivering a superior quality end product, and hence, only when they work together as a team, the desired outcome can be achieved. In this case, no individual party can be held solely responsible for errors. A perfect recipe is when the entire team works hand-in-hand from understanding the requirements, prioritizing the tasks in line with the business objectives, and setting practical deadlines, through to executing the development and testing process. This also implies that every member of the team must share the blame and focus on what went wrong, what actions must be taken to resolve the problem, and what can be done to avoid it in future.

On the contrary, putting testers alone in the defendant’s position for every missed bug or a defective product will only disrupt the team spirit and make the software testing process an isolated function, leading to the possibility of rather increased defects. Hence, no doubt, testers play a crucial part in ensuring software quality, but they alone cannot be blamed for a product that was the result of a shared effort of various stakeholders. Happy Testing!

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