TestBash: Survival of the Fit-Tester

At the TestBash in Cambridge,
Adam Knight spoke about the survival of the Fit-Tester.

As a starting point, Adam introduced a tester who works with artifacts like test cases and formal requirements, but also some software. As testers we communicate using these artifacts in the corporation. Adam described that one goal of the factory school of testing was to replace anyone as a tester by all of these artifacts. He challenged the statement that “anyone” could test just by working through an artifact.

Adam explored what we can do to avoid ourselves from the risk that we become extinct. He proposed that we get engaged. Adam explained that we are put under criticism at times. When a bug in production is found, the questions asked is not “how did we program this bug?”, but “how did the bug skip our testing?”.

In an open dialog with the programmers, we can have a bunch of information at our hands. Models are one of it. These come as design models, or more formal specifications. Changes to the product which are currently going on is another source of information that we may get from our programmers. This directly leads to the risks that the programmer thinks is in the product so far. Finally, we get software from programmers. With good relationships to the programmers, we might get early access to the software and start building out own testing models.

Adam also stated that we feed back information to the programmers. Acceptance criteria is one such source of information for programmers. But we also can discuss their models and the flaws we see in these models with them. Adam referred to a testing story, when he found a flaw in the transaction model in the system he was testing. At a particular point it was impossible for customers to roll back their actions. As the development progresses we can also provide our testing charters, and the issues that we found.

Adam continued with symbiotic relationships which we have with the support of our software systems. On one hand we can get customer priorities, perceptions, and emerging requirements from support people, but we also feed back information on release plans, limitations of the software, workarounds, and resolutions to bugs and issues in the system. This forms a symbiotic relationship. Both us gain advantage by working together.

For pre-sales and implementation, Adam described that we can feed information about recommendations, limitations, and sanity checks about the software to them. But we also get commercial priorities, information about new projects, and market trends back from them. So we also form a symbiotic relationship with them.

Adam presented that we also present information for making decisions to the customer or ProductOwner. We offer our opinions about the product, any information that we have on risks, as well as our confidence about the product. On the other hand we get information in form of requirements, priorities, politics, and delegation. Especially on the two latter points, I think we can derive a lot of information about the context of our product.

Adam pointed out, that we are not alone out there. We have a bunch of relationships to other people, forming a lot of symbiotic relationship with programmers, support staff, pre-sales and implementation, as well as customers and ProductOwners. If we manage to not isolate ourselves by using secret artifacts, we can work with a strong support system in our back.

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