Project Management

Testing, Testing...

Those of you who've been reading my column for the past year will probably agree that I usually make an effort to stick to objective subjects with recommendations that can be verified and even quantified. However, certain topics are harder to quantify and defend scientifically. One such topic is the value of a dedicated team of testers.

Should organizations developing software (a) have a team of dedicated testers, or (b) make the developers solely responsible for the quality of their application?

Based on my experience at companies that have used both strategies, the answer is clearly (a). If you're in a hurry and don't have time to read this article, just go ahead and hire one tester for every two to three developers in your organization. Otherwise, read on and discover why a dedicated team of testers is so important.

Developers don't like to test
The sooner you accept it, the better. The vast majority of developers do not like the activities associated with testing. By testing, I don't mean executing ad hoc feature tests to verify whether or not the code works. I mean formal testing activities, like writing and updating detailed test cases, raising problem reports with detailed "How To Repeat" sections, setting up valid testing environments, executing formal performance and reliability tests, etc.

And what happens when developers don't enjoy what they're doing?…

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"Of course the music is a great difficulty. You see, if one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music, people don't talk."

- Oscar Wilde