Please stop saying "testers ensure quality"

  • 28 May 2023
  • 0 replies

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Testers do not ensure or assure quality.

To ensure something, you must control it. This is a necessary, but not sufficient condition. So, even if you control it, you may not be able to to ensure it. As a tester, I have absolutely no control over quality, therefore I cannot ensure quality. The people who could ensure quality are managers and developers. Even they can’t ensure it, but for different and more complicated reasons than those that apply to testers.

(I also don’t “break the software” because it is already broken when I find it.)

So, what do I do as a tester?

I seek the truth, and I report the truth, about the status of the product at any given time. I do this so that the team I work for can make informed decisions about quality.

If I break anything, it is the veil of illusion. I shatter the dreams of the naive. But not the product. The product is the product, before and after I test it.

A good tester has no faith in the product. We have faith in trouble. I mean faith in the full literal sense of believing in something without any evidence. In order for testers to function at full velocity and effectiveness, we must believe that there is a problem around every corner (even though there probably isn’t).

Whenever I use the term QA I am probably referring to quality analysis.


Why does this matter?

Because letting people say that you “assure quality” or “ensure quality” puts you in the position of scapegoat. “Why did you let that product ship with a bug, tester? What’s wrong with you?” Releasing a product is a business decision, not a testing decision. It must be made by people who are aware of and accountable for all that responsibility.

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