A common problem
In a previous employment I have enountered this scenario and it is clear to me now that many of the problems that arose during my time there could have been avoided given a stronger testing presence at the strategic level. The scenario that I was working in at the time was, I believe, a common one. This was a traditional waterfall house and the level of integration between development and test was poor due to the presence of some rather incommunicative developers in senior positions. As the test lead I reported into the Development Manager, as did all of the developers. In the organisational chart the test team stood alone under everyone else in the entire organisation. The result of this was that the test team had little or no access to the C level executives and zero influence on development strategy decisions. Some of the consequences were predictable but frustrating nonetheless:-
- No consideration was given to the testability of the application
- Testing was only involved in the development process towards the end of development
Any automation that I did implement was done using existing customer APIs and interfaces. In some cases later versions of software were actually implemented without the equivalent APIs that we were using to regression test the previous versions.
The lack of testing involvement championing the customer in the early stages meant that requirements were often in the form of technical tasks or solutions without any consideration towards user value.
Sadly this has the tendency to lead to the self-fulfilling prophecy that 'testing is the bottleneck'. If management's opinion of testing is such that they consider that it can be the bottleneck, then they are likely to give little emphasis to the needs of the testing team until late in development. The result of this is that testing inevitably becomes the bottleneck as the identification and resolution of issues is postponed until the testing phases.
A refreshing change
In my current organisation I was recently promoted to "Director of QA and Support". I was obviously very pleased to receive a promotion, but I think what gave me greater pleasure was that the position was created at all. The fact that both myself and the Director of Development operate on a level playing field with equal standing and reporting access to the VP level says a great deal about the status of testing in my organisation.
- Testing is highly valued
- Testing has a presence through the development lifecycle
- Testability is considered
- Testing is seen as a valuable investment
Both CEO and CTO place a large emphasis on testing (the CTO is one of the best performance testers I've come across) and understand the importance of testing in a sucessful development process.
I am present in tactical roadmap discussions and the impact on the test team is considered when new work items are tabled.
I have access at the appropriate levels to raise testability issues and have previously the opportunity to get entire developments re-thought due to the impact that they would have had on the testability of the system and the consequential risks that would have been introduced.
We have benefitted from getting budget to obtain testing consultancy from Dave Evans at SQS, as well as the investment in machines and environments to support our efforts.
Copyright (c) Adam Knight 2011