May 16, 2005

Classic Mistakes of Testing

One of my friend Anil Agrawal is a Quality Leader in C-SAM Solutions. He had sent me an excellent email on classic testing mistakes. Thought I would share with you all. Thanks Anil.

Here it goes...

A first major mistake people make is thinking that the testing team is responsible for assuring quality. This role, often assigned to the first testing team in an organization, makes it the last defense, the barrier between the development team (accused of producing bad quality) and the customer (who must be protected from them).
It's characterized by a testing team (often called the "Quality Assurance Group") that has formal authority to prevent shipment of the product. That in itself is a disheartening task: the testing team can't improve quality, only enforce a minimal level.
Worse, that authority is usually more apparent than real. Discovering that, together with the perverse incentives of telling developers that quality is someone else's job, leads to testing teams and testers who are disillusioned, cynical, and view themselves as victims.

We've learned from Deming and others that products are better and cheaper to produce when everyone, at every stage in development, is responsible for the quality of their work ([Deming86], [Ishikawa85]).

In practice, whatever the formal role, most organizations believe that the purpose of testing is to find bugs. This is a less pernicious definition than the previous one, but it's missing a key word. When I talk to programmers and development managers about testers, one key sentence keeps coming up: "Testers aren't finding the important bugs." Sometimes that's just griping, sometimes it's because the programmers have a skewed sense of what's important, but I regret to say that all too often it's valid criticism. Too many bug reports from testers are minor or irrelevant, and too many important bugs are missed.

Now for the complete article on classic mistakes, click here.

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