Are software testers the gatekeepers or guardians of quality?

This post is part of the Pride & Paradev series.

Are software testers the gatekeepers or guardians of quality?

Software Testers are the Guardians and Gatekeepers of Quality

“Quality is value to some person.”

~ Jerry Weinberg

Working as a sole tester in a small agile team, you are the guardian of quality. You care about quality and it’s your job to fight the right fight to ensure it prevails. As Jerry Weinberg says: quality is value to some person, you need to ensure that value is realized.

User stories aren’t ‘done’ until you’ve tested each of them, which means you get to provide information to the Product Owner about each of them. You define the quality bar and you work closely with your team and product owner to strive for it.

You’ll soon realize that’s it’s better to start building quality in than testing it in, so you can make sure there are clearly defined acceptance criteria which have been marked as completed so that testing is more focused: efficient and effective. You’ll work with the programmers to make sure that as many acceptance tests are automated along side the code so that the regression testing burden is lessened each time a story is delivered.

One way to build quality into your development process to introduce some humorous passive-aggressive yet lighthearted signage around your story wall:

Tick the Acceptance Criteria

Whilst your Product Owner ultimately wants a great product, you’re working with the programmers closely in your team to ensure this happens on a day to day basis. You’re the guardian of quality and they’ll respect you for making them look good.

Software Testers aren’t the Guardians and Gatekeepers of Quality

Whilst you think you may define the quality of the system, it’s actually the development team as a whole that does that. Developers write the good/poor quality code.

Whilst you can provide information and suggestions about problems: product owners can and should overrule you: it’s their product for their business that you’re building: you can’t always get what you consider to be important, often business decisions trump technical ones.

You’re not perfect. Everyone is under pressure to deliver and if you act like an unreasonable gatekeeper of quality, you’ll quickly gain enemies or have people simply go around or above you.

And that’s no fun.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.