F10 – 103: Testers! Get Out of the Quality Assurance Business

Track: Test Leadership

The Agile movement, continuous changes in technology, and the ubiquity of computing devices have all prompted discussion about the role of the tester. Whatever the organizational structure of our development shops, it’s time for us testers to get out of the Quality Assurance business.

If you’re a tester, you’re typically not allowed to change the source code, the scope of the product, the budget, staffing, schedule, customer relationships, market placement, or the development model. So how, exactly, can testers assure quality? Michael Bolton argues that testers cannot assure quality, nor should they try. Decisions about quality and how to assure it are in the hands of those with the authority to make such decisions the programmers who write the code, and the managers who run the project. Testing is not confirmation, verification, and validation of what we already know or hope to be true. Instead, testing is focused far more on exploration, discovery, investigation, and learning. In this view, when we’re doing our best work, we’re providing valuable, timely information about the actual state of the product and the project. We don’t own quality; instead, we help the people who are responsible for quality and the things that influence it.

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Session Speaker:

Michael BoltonMichael Bolton – Founder, DevelopSense
Michael Bolton has been teaching software testing on five continents for ten years. He is the co-author (with senior author James Bach) of Rapid Software Testing, a course that presents a methodology and mindset for testing software expertly in uncertain conditions and under extreme time pressure. He has been Program Chair for the Toronto Association of System and Software Quality, and Conference Chair (in 2008) for the Association of Software Testing. He wrote a column in Better Software Magazine for four years, and sporadically produces his own newsletter.

Michael lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife and two children. He can be reached at michael@developsense.com, or through his Web site, http://www.developsense.com