This is a response article to “ Do you have Testers?” by Clemens Wolff
Wolff’s article proposes that the role of the tester is dead, supporting this argument by observations carried out during his work experience rather than academic publications. While, I agree with this view, I would extend the argument that rather than the tester role being dead, it has been reassigned to the user.
Removal of tedious bug hunts
Prior to starting my current MSc, I was working for a company that only did a small amount of testing, and that was being done by testers in the traditional role. By the time I was leaving to continue my studies, we had started to use some unit testing, and I can attest to the improvement in the development life cycle and code quality if one were to use unit testing and automated testing throughout the development. In light of this, I do agree that the traditional role of the tester will diminish to only serve certain projects that cater for high risk scenarios. From this same work experience, I can also agree that getting the “right it” rather than “getting it right” gives you an advantage on your competitors, not only because it allows you to infiltrate the market early, but it also sets you up as one of the players in the field, proving that you do have the know how to develop such software. However getting the right software out there depends on the feedback from users.
Users as the new testers
At my previous workplace, we used to send programs to the sales team for their feedback on a feature they or the clients had requested, only to find out that their specifications were ambiguous and had been misinterpreted, or even that a feature that we believed would be helpful to the customers, turned out to not be worth the time and effort of development. These errors were minimised by sending the software to some users for their feedback. Since the emphasis is on getting the “right it”, the users are testing whether the software is the “right it” or not.
I strongly feel that the traditional role of the tester has been split up into two, as also hinted in the video posted at the end of Wolff’s article. What was mundane testing has now been covered by automated testing techniques, and what was feedback about the program itself has been shifted to the right crowd with the correct skill set to assess the software : the user. This means that instead of the developer throwing programs at the testers for feedback, they are now throwing it directly at users (with automated testing acting as a filter).
In viewing the user as the new tester, I feel that more attention should be given to the release of the software in more detail. Just like we were careful in choosing the right testers to join a team, and making sure that the process gives the right feedback to the developers, we need to make sure that the right users are the first to see a software (hopefully the most forgiving users), and that the right medium for them to send feedback is made available. Whereas previously the testing department was an internal customer of the development team, and in return the development team was an internal customer of the testing team, we can observe a similar symbiotic relationship between the developers and the users in this post-Agile world.
So in conclusion, I believe that the dialogue should be : “ Do you have testers?”- Yes, thousands… we call them users.