What value does a tester add to a team?

It’s an open question. I don’t have a precise answer. For years we’ve been told that “you have to do testing”. But really what value does testing give you beyond someone saying “its broken”, or “50% of it is broken” for the statistically minded among my readers.

If I have a tester on one of my teams, I want them to be quality focused, not necessarily test result focused. So what does a tester do, day-to-day to improve quality. Surely some of the work involves:

  • Making sure that test cases can be traced back to requirements.
  • Making sure that tests are passing, or progressing towards a pass state.

But perhaps the more interesting work is what you do once you get that information:

  • What classes of test failures are the most common? Bad data, bad code, bad specifications?
  • What automated repeatable processes can be added to a project to improve quality at a lower cost?

Finally – is the tester the ultimate arbiter of DONE in an agile team? Do we even have a role of tester in an agile team, and if we don’t, how do we focus development team members on quality enough to spend the time doing stuff that isn’t just about writing code? How do you encourage developers to fix broken windows, and keep them fixed.

3 thoughts on “What value does a tester add to a team?

  1. Jason Stangroome

    In an Agile team, perhaps a Tester should be treated no differently than the CSS Guru or the Build Master. Everyone takes responsibility for all aspects of the project but certain people have specialized skills and become the go-to person for that area of work and act as the champion of their cause.

  2. Sven Dowideit

    to my mind, a tester’s key role, is to provide a different point of view. Developers are focussed on finding solutions – someone needs to be focussed on finding pain points.

  3. Wile Coyote

    Im a tester mate. Have been for years. Been an integral part of ALL teams I have worked with.
    – Have helped many coders improve their coding skills – needing to write more efficient code to solve a problem.
    – Have added to my own skills of system design recognising weakness in other peoples designs and also good bits.
    – Improved efficiency and quality come out of good testers. Agile is a result focused approach. It should be quality focused as well as you say – but isnt always. Its effective in mission critical situations but often its only the start of something much bigger. There is the testers niche in the team. Jason hits the nail with what he says.

    Want to improve your skills – be a tester for someone elsess project.

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