Tester Advocacy Part 2 – A testers code of conduct?

Posted on Posted in Everything, Software Testing

After blogging about tester advocacy I began to wonder whether I could come up with a code of conduct that testers could use to guide their actions and decisions. I don’t think you’re likely to get a one-size-fits-all code, so perhaps I should say a collection of heuristics by which a tester can guide his own actions.

I’m not talking so much about the day-to-day activities of a tester, though that certainly plays a part. I’m more concerned by the actions in his relationships with his peers, his employer and the people whom his testing may represent. I was hoping that with some careful consideration, I’d be able to put together a concise list of points.

I started listing the sort of things that are handy to remind myself about, but I quickly realised that they aren’t really that useful in all situations.

I listed things like

I will pro-actively educate myself in the art of testing.
I will find out who matters and test and report accordingly.
I will use all the resources at my disposal
I will not be the gatekeeper of the decision to ship/not ship

The problem with these is that while they work for me right now, they may not work for testers in other places, or with differing levels of experience, different duties, different responsibilities. The other problem with a list like the one above is that you could easily expand it to a hundred points or more.

I don’t want a laundry list, or a bunch of ‘thou shalt’ commandments. I am also wary of locking the art of testing into some sort of cookie-cutter formula/recipe to be followed by rote, rather something that is applicable in all situations that any tester can use to guide their thinking and actions in a positive way. This appears to me no small task.

I put it to the MAST list to see what they had to say about it. There was some interesting and spirited discussion around the term ‘trusted advisor’, but what I took away from the conversation was that Paul Szymkowiak‘s suggestion the exercise of attempting to define such a code of conduct is perhaps as important (or more so) than the results.

It is still something that I am spending time thinking about, but if the journey turns out to be as important as the destination, then perhaps someone else out there might gain something if I document my endeavours here. To that effect, I shall do my best to post updates here as and when I make progress on this front.

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