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Are testers the developer’s back-up insurance?

So it’s been a little while since I last wrote a blog post. Sharon Ideas has continued to grow faster than I could hope for and I’ve learned a lot. For me, growing a business is all about learning new things. Whether it be a new testing technique or learning new ways of providing my services to companies that value quality assurance testing, and in particular, manual testing, it’s the learning process that counts.

Tonight I was thinking about the role of Quality Assurance in the software development world. Just what is the role of the tester? Is it just to test and flush out all the bugs after development is done? Or what happens when a bug is missed? Is it the testers fault? The developers fault for introducing it? What happens when the tester can’t find steps to reproduce an issue? Is the quality assurance team kind of like insurance for the developers, “QA should have found it, it’s not our fault!”?

While you may laugh at the idea of the QA team being the insurance to cover the developers asses, I have seen this played out over and over. A bug is found by the client or customers who then complain, and when the CEO of your software company comes knocking on the Development team’s door, they can quickly point to QA: It’s their fault! They should have found it! And yes, that may be true. We are the developer’s right hand helpers–we are there to find their mistakes, their oversights, the glitches that get introduced, the bugs that cause problems by 3rd party software, the bugs that jump out from no where, and help keep the developers on track to make sure they develop and release high quality software.

So what do you answer to the big boss who comes to your desk and says “Why didn’t you find that bug!”? I don’t think there is a clear answer to that. Because yes, Quality Assurance IS supposed to find all the bugs. You can mumble an answer about being human and not being able to cover everything. But that answer is not going to fly with the CEO or the customer. Or you can put the blame back on the developers, “They shouldn’t have introduced it!”. But that’s not going to set well with them either because that’s what you’re there for–to find the bugs.

So what do you answer? I don’t think there is an answer that is cut and dry. But I think there is a solution: Quality Assurance testers who work with the developers side by side to work through the issues, find the bugs, fix them, and go back to the CEO and the client with the fix. Perhaps it’s no one’s fault there is a bug–bugs exist! That’s why quality assurance is so important. When a bug is missed, learn why it was missed, and then work to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Can’t find steps to reproduce a bug? Work with someone who might know–each person has their expertise–lean on each other–that’s why working as a team is so important. Learn from each other, and the software and the development team will just get stronger and stronger.

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