Posted by: Brian | September 18, 2009

Testing vs. Quality: Part 1

The Rational Tester has been traveling a lot lately – you may have noticed a recent posting drought.  One of these trips was to the STANZ 2009 conferences in Wellington, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia.  The presentation I delivered was the Wisdom of Crowds.  This presentation is essentially a report on testing best practices followed by IBMers – from our technical implementation teams, our tool building teams and our consulting groups.

Another of the presentations at this conference was Becoming An Expert Tester from James Bach.  An excellent presentation in its own right, I found that in combination with my own brought out an interesting conundrum faced by testers.  The Expert Tester presentation focused on things an individual can do to hone their skills as a testing professional.  The Wisdom of Crowds presentation  focused primarily on quality processes that teams can implement to improve the quality of their end product.   Put another way, one presentation focused on testing, one on quality.

It struck me afterward that this is an issue that testers struggle with on a daily basis.  It’s crucial to consistently improve one’s skills as a tester, learning new approaches and techniques – but the big payoff, in terms of delivering a better product comes when the whole team focuses on quality driven software delivery.  The catch, of course, is that as an individual, it’s much easier to improve one’s skills as a tester than it is to impart change on quality practices that impact the entire software delivery team.  Put another way, you can be the best auto mechanic in the world, but if your job has you working the production line for the Edsel, you’re not going to have that much of an impact.

While I have no grandiose plans for an elaborate series on this topic, I have labeled this post as “Part 1” – as there’s lots more to explore on this thread.   Let the discussion continue…

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