Not too long ago I was describing the role of the test group at a company I have worked for to a group of Software Testers outside of the company. Now before I go any further I will say this – I’m not “bashing” any individual or group of individuals at the company. The majority of people I’ve met in the test group are actually great individuals. I am referring to the behaviours and attitudes towards testing. I had mentioned the role of testing in the company and how it contradicted with what I did (including what I did at this company) and what I believed in as a proud and passionate software tester. I described how there was a lot of checking going on that was labelled as testing – checking that applications and features would work as per requirements – and calling that testing. I have a chart posted at my desk showing the difference between testing and checking as I learned from Michael Bolton’s work.
I also went on to describe some of the key responsibilities of the test group – which I explicitly stated were not things that I necessarily did. Responsibilities such as signing off (my post on testers signing off here), extensive standardized documentation in the form of mindless test plan and strategy templates, and mindless heavily scripted test cases pre-written before any testing was even done. (I have included more details to the responsibilities here than I did when I described them to the group of software testers).
I made sure I stated that I did not take part in all of these activities, because I spent (and still do) a lot of time and effort arguing my case, my reasoning, explaining what software testing really is, its value and that it involves skill, and thought, and isn’t just some mindless task just anybody could do. I won’t lie, because I dealt with it every single day, at times it’s difficult and can even be draining to have to fight and disagree and have to prove and mention my reasoning over and over to different people in different positions within the company. Sure, after some gruelling days I have even asked myself “is it even worth fighting for testing at this place?”. Those next days, I still did stand my ground and fought for myself as a skilled tester who was there to provide testing with some type of value and not engage in mindless activities. I had presented this to management a few times but unfortunately the situation and reorganization at the company prevented anybody with the power to actually do anything about it.
I received some nice and encouraging feedback from some of the software testers in the group I was describing this too, and one that got me thinking came from Joep Schuurkes who told me to “keep up the good fight”. Now up until that point I considered myself fighting against incompetence in testing, against template junkies (I got that term from Rob Sabourin), and against testing zombies (I got that term from Ben Kelly), and stated it as such.
I was fighting against all of these things and I still do, every single day – but another good way to put it as I now do – I am fighting the good fight, and will do so as long as I am a Software Tester!