Testers Signing Off

Not too long ago while working on a project at a company a certain practice that was common and expected of testers caught my attention, not because it was interesting but because it made no sense to me.  This practice was Software Testers “signing off” on a project or fixes.  Why would I sign off on a product or fixes for defects? I’m not a Product Owner, I’m a Software Tester.  I test (explore, discover, investigate) in order to provide the product owners/stakeholders valuable information about the state of the product so that they can make informed decisions about how to proceed with product delivery.  A blog post I had read about a year ago by Michael Bolton immediately came to mind (http://www.developsense.com/blog/2010/05/testers-get-out-of-the-quality-assurance-business/)

As I dug deeper to understand why this was being done and where it all started, I had a few conversations with Michael and he was kind enough to help me out and lead me down the path to find some of the answers.  He suggested that instead of viewing and presenting the task of tester sign off to management as wrong, figure out the goal and alternatives will arise.

This is exactly what I did and soon discovered that what management believed in regards to software testing – its goal, purpose, and role was quite different from what I believed and practiced. Management believed that the QA Team (or Test Team as I prefer to call it) was responsible for assuring the quality of the product; that we were the gatekeepers of quality; that testers could and should assure the quality of work done by others.

At that moment I understood (understood being different from agreeing) why testers at the company were required and expected to sign off on product and defect fixes.  As Michael states in his post “it’s time for our craft to grow up.”

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