Quality: I’m not dead yet

Posted on Posted in Everything, Software Testing

James Bach recently wrote a post entitled Quality is Dead.

It brought to mind this particular gem

I’ll let you decide which software development role is analogous to the players in the sketch.

Testing isn’t dead yet, but it’s generally not being done any favours by anyone around it. The reasons are legion and of course they’re different from project to project. Fundamentally though I think it comes down to human beings with differing and often conflicting priorities.

I work in Japan where the customer is God and quality is paramount. In terms of software development however, some of the work practises I have seen here were old before Tokugawa Ieyasu came to power (and they haven’t aged well). I know where I would like to take quality focus, but the people who generally have the power to make it happen tend not to bother talking to grunts like me.

The brass jump up and down about quality for a while when customers or shareholders squeeze their balls about something going wrong. Said ball-squeezing is transferred down the management food chain until it gets to the QA division at which point one tends to hear about how we need to make things work better.

Of course, when you attempt to actually make changes for the better, you run into the aforementioned problem of human beings with conflicting priorities and you have zero power to change it.

What I would very much like to see happen is a bunch of people who have at one time or another been very skilled software testers assume CIO/CEO roles of large companies, understand what quality means to the people spending money on their product (and to the people not spending money on their product who may otherwise become customers) and make that priority one.

If that means the stock price suffers a little while you spend the necessary money, so be it. Until you get someone in a position with enough power to actually make focus on improving quality a must, then what you will inevitably end up with is a growing number of skilled testers who find themselves out of work when either a) their company outsources their job to a cheaper, less skilled option, or b) when they take an ethical stand and find themselves replaced by someone who is happy to take their place on a production line turning out broken toys.

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