Home > testing > Dare (not) putting your product in a testers hands?

Dare (not) putting your product in a testers hands?

Some people have learned that I will give them my thoughts on anything they put in my hands. Most commonly this would be in the software domain, but just as much I will give my thoughts on anything that I can inspect, question or at least have some clue about how it should be, or not be. Sometimes I dont even know this much, but I am able to ask the right questions for the producer to realize the flaws himself. Apart from software this can be documents of some sort or even important emails they are sending.

I really enjoy questioning “products” with the sharp eye of a hard-to-please customer or just like a regular user. With my profession I also have some of the necessary skills to communicate what I believe are flaws or suggestions of improvement in constructive ways that will motivate or even compel changes to be made before deployment. Sometimes the bugs I find are very serious, and sometimes not so serious, but all of them at least become visible to the stakeholder that shows it to me.

Thinking about all the software products I have gotten my hands on, there is a remarkable amount of them where obvious bugs or flaws have appeared almost instantly when doing the first exploration of the product. I have no numbers to build this discussion on more than just a gut feeling that as a tester, if I just get a hand on a product, there will be questions to ask and bugs revealed almost instantly.

I dont know why this is the case, but there are of course several factors that are more obvious than others usually. Things like environment and configurations, testability in development, testing skills and heuristics of developers or even inattentive blindness are factors that usually cover a lot of this. But isn’t there another dimension? The dimension of not only letting another person look and inspect the product, but letting a tester have a look. Sometimes I wonder if my feeling “hand it to me, and Ill show you how broken it really is”, is it something that everyone can sign up on, or is it the way of the tester?

An example of this was when a friend and colleague of mine showed me the product he was currently working on, a mobile phone application. As a tester in the project he had been questioning this particular app for some weeks already. Within 5 minutes I discovered something that for me was an obvious and serious bug, but he and his team had not discovered it before. Was it a coincidence, or is it cause I am a tester and will look at the application in a different way than my colleague? I am quite sure that any other person than another tester would not have found the bug. Say what you want about it, but it was a good thing letting me play with the product for 5 minutes while having a break. And what if you include me fulltime as a tester in a project where you dont have any dedicated tester?

I think of this quite often, and especially when it come to smaller projects (1-5 people) that just say they cannot afford having a tester that does not produce value. And as a tester it is not so easy to prove the value added before getting involved. Though this is a whole new story, can any team of any size creating any product AFFORD to NOT have a tester if you not only think of the customer value created but also include the customer value that you risk to loose if/when delivering an untested product?

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  1. June 15, 2010 at 15:08

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