Can Testers and Programmers be friends?
Today is Valentine’s Day and as they say “the love is in the air”, but why this air never reaches the testers and programmers who are in the same team. Can we ever be friends?
The software testing guru (a.k.a. in Urdu/Hindi as “Ustaadoon Kay Ustaad” ) James Bach in one of his lectures on software testing, mentions that we as Testers don’t hate Programmers. We actually love them, just like a loving wife would let her husband know of a stain on his shirt before he leaves the home to avoid him from any embarrassment.
(the original photo is here: http://www.ironwoodsaloon.com/valentines-day-dinner )
But why Programmers never perceive a bug that way? And why Testers joke about them in all of their private discussions? This is really strange that the two persons who were supposed to solve the problem together and scale up the Quality of the release, are fighting with each other.
If you think that we can turn things around and can be friends, here are some suggestions:
- Try to understand each other
The only problem is that both Programmers and Testers have a different point of view. That difference is actually healthy as both of them wear different hats and come up with suggestions on how to improve things.
So if you are a Tester and see a weird issue next time, rather than saying “that damn lazy programmer” you can go to that person and try to understand their point of view. And if you are a Programmer and see a silly bug next time, rather than saying “that stupid tester” you can go to that person and understand their point of view. Consider inviting Testers to review your design and consider inviting Programmers to review your test cases.
- Appreciate each others work
Both Testers and Programmers spend significant amount of time and energy improving the software. The intent of each one is to build and ship a quality release that keeps their company successful.
So if you are a Tester, in your next test report or a review meeting don’t just mention areas that are not working but also mention areas that are solid. Do appreciate programmers if they fix a big chunk of bugs in short periods of time. That will result in more productivity. And if you are a Programmer, when you see a real killer issue reported by the tester don’t yell at that person rather thanks for bringing this up before the release. Remember that person saved you from the public embarrassment of a shirt with stain. Also avoid saying “that’s not a bug” and rather say “Thanks for reporting a bug”.
In one of first trainings we conduct in our office to new hires in testing team says “Programmers are friends, not foes”. So building that culture from both sides really helps.
- Highlight the problem not the person
Mentioning names and using nouns like I vs. you in any bug reports, meetings or conversations can take an issue to the personal levels. No one is talking bad about a person but the real contention is the issue.
So if you are a Tester, in your next bug report rather than saying “the issue is reproducing on my box” mention that “on a box that has windows 7 64 bit, the issue is reproducible”. And if you are a Programmer, in your next comments rather than saying “you should use the correct data set as input” mention that “the issue is related to the bad data input”.
So fellows, do you think that “in greater interest of Software Quality” we should be friends?