Not Familiar with Testers? – Proving Your Worth With a Development Team

Last June, I had the opportunity of a new challenge within my current company, which I grasped with both hands. I moved from a team which had a very well-oiled engineering process, a very stable test framework which gave the team confidence in their product and a team which I had worked in since I graduated from University 7 years earlier. The team I moved to had no active Testers and was still trying to define their engineering processes.

This has proved to be a challenging but enjoyable change and has really made me work hard to show what I can bring to the table and show why testing/QA teams are important.

One of the first actions when I joined the team was to ask to be added to code/peer reviews, previously the code had been reviewed between developers only. This brought some resistance initially –

  • “Why do you need to be on Code Reviews, you’re only QA”
  • “What benefit will it bring having you on the review?”
  • “It will take longer”

I went into more detail on this in a previous post, but the point was that they were not keen to start with and then the next stage was to bombard me with so many code reviews that I had very little time to do anything else. I stuck with it and eventually got through them.

There was initially a reluctance to involve QA, but to be fair to the team of developers, they were open to try once we started to discuss things with them.

Over the next 6 months or so, as a team we worked hard to prove ourselves and we are now at a point where QA are considered in design discussions, code reviews and any major decision making. It’s been a challenge but we are now showing signs of working as one team. There’s still a way to go but we are happy with the progress. But how did we get to this stage? I put it down to 3 things:

1. Getting the Right People – The team being put together has to have a solid set of skills across the team, a good mix of traditional testing skills and good technical developers to work on the frameworks. The testing mindsets need to be there and all of the team need to be strong enough to question things and follow through when something needs doing. It helps in the scenario of the developers being reluctant to work with testers, that the test team have the right people skills to get to know them socially or atleast be prepared to talk to the team about non-project/work topics to build up enough of a relationship that it becomes easy to discuss work topics with them.

2. Find Ways to Be Involved  – Asking questions, listening to conversations, being willing to take tasks which will involve working alongside a developer, are all things which will help aid understanding of the functionality. Know your stuff, if it needs looking up, spend some time reading around the subject so that you can have discussions with the developers about it.  Ultimately, it is about doing all you can so that the developers trust that you know what you’re doing and you will test the product effectively and verify the quality. Set up bug scrubs, or design discussions and invite development along, it’s things like this which will prove that you are all fighting for the same cause.

3. Find Issues Through Testing  –  It might sound obvious, but if the team are previously used to relying on Unit testing and their own dev testing, then the QA testing needs to enhance the coverage and find issues that their testing wouldn’t find. Whatever way the testing needs to be done, put together a framework which will enable the team to spend their time testing, rather than constantly having to fix issues and not be sure whether the issues found are due to the framework or the product under test. Then the next stage in proving worth, is to find issues which may not have otherwise be found, issues which would have caused major problems if released.

Having these 3 things, will give you a fighting chance of a testing team which will work well with development. Maybe we’ve been lucky with the people in our team, but the difference in the last 6-9 months in the attitude towards the testing team has been huge, but here’s hoping it will continue to improve.

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