Fake God of Quality Versus True Humans – Who is Responsible for Software Quality?

Several thousands of Software Testers whom I came across had the notion that they are into testing and are solely responsible for quality. Some of them even think that being a tester also empowers them as a God of Quality for the product.

The questions I ask you is: Is this for good?

Here is what I think and would like to see you considering these ideas. 

Software Quality

Quality is everyone’s responsibility and not just a tester out there or thousands of them out there. If your family has to be happy, you can’t just assign a person to your family to ensure everyone's happiness and catch the person responsible if something goes wrong. If a family has to be happy forever, it has to happen with everyone participating and facilitating in it.

Similarly, if a product needs to have quality, every stakeholder from customer, requirements, design, development, testing, and support must have equal responsibility towards it.

However, some organizations who are not so serious about testing or fake their seriousness about testing hire a tester for every project to make a tester scapegoat when any of their customers find a bug. These testers who are made to feel as Quality's God start feeling guilty about the idea of missing a bug and take the responsibility for missing a bug.

This happens because most of the testers have a screwed up understanding of what testing is. They carry an idea of testing as improving the quality while it is not improving quality but finding information about quality.

By reporting bugs – the quality by itself isn’t improving unless someone cares to fix it. Now, if you have been working as a tester you would know that many times by trying to fix a bug, 2 or more new bugs are introduced. So, probably, each bug a tester reports and each bug being fixed and a new one springing up, the quality might be decreasing.

I must also admit that lesser bugs don't necessarily mean good quality. Jerry Weinberg, a living legend of software testing who was the first person to start a testing team way back in 1960’s defines “Quality is a value to some person who matters” and then Michael Bolton expanded it to “It is a testers responsibility to find out who matters and what matters to them”. So fantastic.

Here are some of the problems that happen if testers continue to think of themselves as Quality's God

Issues with Developers:

Testers start seeing developers as demons who are spoiling quality and get into issues with them. This impacts the performance of the whole team and the developers start disrespecting the testing community itself. So, testers who cause this problem, not only spoil their name but all our names as well in general.

It's like batsmen accusing bowlers to have given a lot of runs. If a cricket team has to function well then bowlers and batsmen have to work together to make the team win. Sometimes batsmen fail to perform and other times bowlers. You may want to think of yourselves as humans just as developers and both of you are equally capable of making mistakes. However, focusing on your skills of thinking can help in the success of the entire team.

Guilty of Missing a Bug:

When a bug is missed, the tester feels all alone responsible for missing it. Such testers don’t think that they are a part of the entire team, which missed it. I am talking about all the stakeholders responsible for missing it.

If 4 runs are needed off the last ball and a batsman fails to score, is the batsman responsible for the loss of the team?

Failing to Learn:

A pattern among all those testers who assume themselves as God’s of quality fails to learn. The feeling of being THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE makes their mind to think that they have learned almost everything and everything they have learned is right.

Let me take this as an open bet: 90% of the testers I have met by travelling to all places in India haven’t read a testing book yet despite several years of experience. You would hardly find a developer who has not read a development related book but testers think everything about testing online is good and fine.

This surprises me – testers don’t test their own learning. How can I believe that they can test even half as good as they claim?

The Change

Now, I am not forcing you to change but let me tell you that none of the respected testers of the world has an idea about themselves as God’s of quality or being the only person responsible for quality. You may want to take a clue from it and change but it is you who is causing the change and not me.

If you are willing to change a little further, you must consider thinking:

– Testing as providing information about quality
– Developers as sources of information
– Test Coverage as a key factor for success of a test team
– Success of the entire team is the success of a test team
– Missing bugs is not always a tester’s fault
– Testers are humans and humans are fallible ( they fail )
– Testers are as imperfect as developers
– Helping other testers to get the ideas right after you have got it

About the Author:
This article is by Pradeep Soundararajan, our guest author at SoftwareTestingHelp. Pradeep is a renowned tester, thinker, thought leader and an international speaker in software testing and problem-solving. He writes a popular blog Tester Tested! and tests, coaches, consults, manages testing and testers.

Feel free to share your comments/suggestions about this article.

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72 thoughts on “Fake God of Quality Versus True Humans – Who is Responsible for Software Quality?”

  1. This is very valuable post. I learned lots of thing from this post. Sir, I request you if simply possible then please post more articles like this.

    Thank you
    Dattaprasad More

  2. I have been testing for more than 20 years and developers think they are Prima Donna’s and whenever I report a bug they get very cross. I am the one who knows the business not them (surprised?) They ask me. I also don’t get business requirements and have to figure it out myself. Unit testing to them are non exsiting. Testers will always get slammed if a bug goes through but developers will just do re-work and some don’t have the pride to give me a flawless program/project to test because they don’t see the need to also do some quality checks on their side, not even code reviews

  3. Hello Pradeep,

    I must say that is a wonderful article. I always want to read developer’s mind in my team and try to cope up with team to improve my product quality. I am totally agreed with the point in the article that qaulity is not the only responsibilty for QA guys.

    I would really love to read if these kind of articles further.

    Thank You,
    Monika Vishnoi

  4. Good article and I agree 70% of tester do not read testing books .
    The idea which you are sharing is a best fit in agile methodology where the quality is a reaponsebility of a team . In agile the work is visiualize by other team member also and help in achiving the targeted goal.

  5. Thanx, Pradeep for your deep knowledge about this testing dilemma. I would say once again thanx for your nice and one of the best articles, which you have write. Pls. keep write this type of knowledgeable articles.

  6. Thanks Pradeep, Its very good and thought provoking article. I too agree, testers are being treated low and made them scapegoat. I really like it when you say “If a family has to be happy forever, it has to happen with everyone participating and facilitating it”. Maturity comes when Developers and Testers say “its our responsibility for both success or failure of the product”.
    Keep it up Pradeep.

  7. Hi Pradeep, Quite interesting and nutritious thoughts you have shared on testing and quality. I agree 100% with you on every project member being responsible and cautious about quality of the product rather than holding merely a tester responsible for it. I also agree to most of your other thoughts on organizations reasoning or purpose behind hiring testers. Some more thoughts:
    1. I could not understand whether you are blaming tester for thinking himself as quality God or the management/ organization that makes them feel as that.
    2. Most of the testers around the world who test software understand very well behind the purpose of testing is quality control
    3. Even if what you say as the idea of testing is “finding information about quality” the purpose still remains to improve the quality which in any case developer has to do, but it is the tester who is pointing out the holes left out by developers that need to be filled in. and very true that developer has to be intelligent enough that while filling these holes he should not generate new holes around.
    4. Testers sometimes have an understanding that if they report less bugs will mean a question mark on their job, which forces them to report many a times non-quality bugs thereby increasing gap between developer and tester.
    5. Developers, once they know that the product has to undergo testing, write code so foolishly that they generate lot of unexpected bugs.
    6. Developers are hurt when testers find out bugs in their code, and instead of going into a thanks mode for testers they start going into another mode where they themselves start losing their respect. In turn they start finding out weaknesses in tester’s capabilities, testing criteria or bug reporting process.
    7. If a developer has been hired for coding, is it wrong at organization level to expect a 100% bug free coding from developers. If they are permitted to write code with bugs, why not every other function in the organization is allowed to perform their daily tasks with errors. Can’t we have perfect coders?
    8. On the other hand if testers are hired for finding out bugs, is it not their lack of depth of knowledge that leads to bug explosions at the later stages? Are testers involved in coding, or business study or implementation?
    9. If developer’s after reading so many books on development write codes with bugs, I don’t think a good tester criteria should be if he has read a book on testing or not.

  8. Very nice article and i could personally feel it from many testers. But, it is also a fact to accept, in many cases developers are not co-operative and they are not providing the complete details on testing considerations. There are also developers who’s mind-set is like, if bug is found then let us put a fix on that time(ignoring cost, time and their responsibility). Overall as mentioned Quality is with all who involved in the project right from Business Analyst. All should work as one-team.

  9. Good! Pradeep, i completely agree with your thought process. one question perplexes me, how do you involve a tester in early stage of product development life cycle, when he doesn’t have anything to test….

    Ajay

  10. No doubt, a very thoughtful post by Mr.Soundararajan..
    and indeed a perfect comment by Mr. Jaideep. I totally agree with Mr. Jaideep.. Well said about Developers..

  11. Quality should be maintained at every stage of s/w and by everybody involved in that.

    Tester or team is just like filters, we will ensure at the final stage that it working fine and certified.

    Being a test engineer is very cool job than any other position in s/w field. Agree?
    :)

  12. Hi Pradeep
    This is nice artical.Iam searching for crowd testing in which a vertual testing team test the whole system.If you have any matter on this article please send it to me .
    Thanks

  13. I think the points you have mentioned are correct.but still there are number of companies who think and force the tester to take whole responsibility of quality.This attitude demoralize the tester in many situations.

  14. my object is am a MCA 2009 pass out…above articles r about testers and comments r from testers..and i wanted to be a tester now..s der any guidelines for me

  15. @Jaideep,

    1. I could not understand whether you are blaming tester for thinking himself as quality God or the management/ organization that makes them feel as that.

    Did I sound blaming?

    The organization is nothing but a group of individuals.

    2. Most of the testers around the world who test software understand very well behind the purpose of testing is quality control

    How do you know that? Did you ask them?

    3. Even if what you say as the idea of testing is “finding information about quality” the purpose still remains to improve the quality which in any case developer has to do, but it is the tester who is pointing out the holes left out by developers that need to be filled in. and very true that developer has to be intelligent enough that while filling these holes he should not generate new holes around.

    Isnt bug fixing the actual improvement?

    6. Developers are hurt when testers find out bugs in their code, and instead of going into a thanks mode for testers they start going into another mode where they themselves start losing their respect. In turn they start finding out weaknesses in tester’s capabilities, testing criteria or bug reporting process.

    I have worked with developers who smile at bugs instead of shying away from them.

    7. If a developer has been hired for coding, is it wrong at organization level to expect a 100% bug free coding from developers. If they are permitted to write code with bugs, why not every other function in the organization is allowed to perform their daily tasks with errors. Can’t we have perfect coders?

    Please read: Jerry Weinberg’s book : Perfect Software and Other Illusions about Testing

    9. If developer’s after reading so many books on development write codes with bugs, I don’t think a good tester criteria should be if he has read a book on testing or not.

    To be honest – your ideas sound pretty weak to me. ( note: I said your ideas – not you )

    This could also be because you are not well read.

  16. @Pradeep. I understand your pain in replying so late. probably it took lot of time to understand what i said which i am sure you have not been able to!

    Don’t take it too personal.

    good to know that you are quite intelligent and well read to challenge if others are “well read” or not.

    your all the 9 points are debatable but not interested to debate with a self acclaimed “well read”. thanks.

  17. Dear Mr.Pradeep Soundararajan (Article),
    You said………….
    “However, some organizations who are not serious about testing or fake their seriousness about testing hire a tester for every project to make a tester scapegoat when any of their customers find a bug.”

    It sounds that,
    1. Some organizations who are not serious about testing……………
    My Response:
    If that is the real intention of the organizations, Then there is no meaning in recruiting test engineers. But still they are recruiting the test engineers, Means that, Organizations won’t have a feel that, “Let we (employer) recruit test engineers and blame them at the end. But to do this ( for blaming test engineers), The employer has to pay the salary for the test engineers. I won’t agree with this because, Where is the need for the organizations to go recruiting test engineers for the only reason “to make the test engineers scapegoat”?

    Not at all required to recruit. Instead they can stop recruiting and start saving finance.

    To speak more about this, You also mentioned “when any of their customers find a bug”.

    As we see, We being testers, Testing the software as per requirement. But how about the customers? Means that in max cases, The bugs customer finds are based on different scenarios, But not test case(s). Its highly impossible for a tester to test in different scenarios (as that of real time, though we have dedicated labs to do that).

    You said………..
    “These testers who are made to feel themselves as Quality God’s start feeling guilty”

    My response: No tester will feel as “I’m the quality of GOD”. And no tester will feel guilty (shame), Because “Mistakes are common, And correction is important”.
    Where is the need to feel shame/guilty?
    Because by birth no one is perfect, And practice makes man perfect. And thats how scenarios come in to play.

    You said………..
    “This happens because most testers have a screwed up understanding of what testing is. They carry an idea of testing as improving quality while it is not improving quality but finding information about quality.”

    My response: Most of the testers what you mentioned won’t sounds good. Rather may be very very very few testers fits good. Because, “what testing is”?
    First of all, Why to bother about “what testing is”? when we are supposed to test from the user perspective. Just clear and concise documents (SRS/PRD/HLD/LLD/Application Guide) are more than sufficient to check whether the SUT/DUT is meeting the clients requirement or not.

    To speak about “They carry an idea of testing as improving quality while it is not improving quality but finding information about quality.”…………

    We (testers) may improve quality (enhancement request). You said, “finding information about quality”.

    What information we need find about quality?
    Which is not at all required. What I feel is that, Testers intention is “instead of making the appication at the field, Let us (testers) break the application here itself” but not “FINDING INFORMATION ABOUT QUALITY”.

    You said…………
    “By reporting bugs – the quality by itself isn’t improving unless someone cares to fix it.”

    My Response:
    I agree. But tell me, why should I (tester) should bother about “whether the development people cares to fix this bug or not” and based on that, Means, if development team cares, “Then you mean to say, Its good to rise a bug” and if development team won’t cares to fix, “Then you mean to say, Its waste to rise a bug”.

    May be Yes. But, Its our (testers) duty to rise a bug. Let the bug get fixed/rejected or whatever.

    So, What my feel is, “If you missed out this line, Then the article really sounds some more good”.

    You said………..
    “if testers continue to think of themselves as Quality God’s”

    My Responsone: FIRST OF ALL, NO TEST ENGINEER WILL FEEL THAT “I’M THE QUALITY GOD”.

    So, Its better not to debate on this. Since, The line itself won’t fit for debate.

    You said…………
    “Testers start seeing developers as demons”

    My Response: Its surprising to see from your article that, You have a very different feel on test engineer.
    First of all, Tell me “Where is the need for a test engineer to see the development engineers as demons (An evil supernatural being/A cruel wicked and inhuman person). ?

    You said…………
    “testers who cause this problem, not only spoil their name but all our names as well.”

    My Response: You mean to say that, Test engineer is causing problem?????
    No test engineer will have any intention in his/her mind “to spoil their name/fame or total team name/fame. THIS IS FOR SURE.

    Just think practically. Who will feel in his/her mind like that? “oh! Let me see the developers as demons and get my name and test team name spoiled?”

    Really very very surprising…. to read this article.

    You said……………
    “Its like batsmen accusing of bowlers to have given a lot of runs.”

    My Response: Suppose if the bats man is highly talented and skilled and practiced and perfect to max entent in handling the ball however the bowler bowls, Then where is the need to blame the bowler, Its the skill of the bats man in handling the ball or facing the ball intelligently. Means, here we need to praise the bats man for his show off.

    You said……..
    “Guilty of missing a bug: When a bug is missed, the tester feels all alone responsible for missing it. Such testers don’t think they are a part of the entire team, which missed it. I am talking about all stakeholders responsible for missing it.

    If 4 runs is needed of the last ball and a batsman fails to score, is the batsman responsible for the loss of the team?”

    My Response: Every test engineer has to feel his responsibility for missing the bug (if it is related to his/her module of test). Why because, Thats how he/she can improve in his field. “Admit mistakes, But learn from them”.

    If the bug related to generic or inter related to some other functionalities, Then no need bother (feel a lot). VERY SIMPLE.

    And with regard to 4 runs needed, bats man, team…. I’M NOT GETTING HOW IT RELATED (YOU COMPARED) WITH TEST ENGINEER WHO MISSED A BIG?

    Hope no way, We can compare these two things.
    1. Missing a bug by test engineer?
    2. 4 runs needed from a single ball to win?

    How? How? How? How?

    You said …………..
    “Failing to learn: A pattern among all those testers who assume themselves as God’s of quality fail to learn. The feeling of being THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE makes their mind to think they have learned almost everything and everything they have learned is right.”

    My Response: Why you are repeatedly saying “God, God, God”. I don’t feel so that, Any test engineer feeling that “HE/SHE IS THE QUALITY OF GOD”.

    As you being test engineer, Tell me very frankly,
    DO YOU HAVE A FEEL THAT, YOU ARE THE QUALITY OF GOD??????

    Fail to learn:
    How to handle the job, If the test engineer fails to learn?
    Which employer will bear the test engineer(s), If they fail to learn?
    First of all, Its a problem to the test engineer itself with regard to job perspective or whatever, If he/she fails to learn.

    So, No point in “you mentioning that, Test engineers fails to learn”.

    First of all, No test engineer will feel that, Yes, 100% I learned about my job (testing). Because Its a Universal fact that, “Known is a drop, Unknown is Ocean”.

    Please remove from your mind that,
    1.”Test engineers will have a feel that “they know every thing”
    2. “Test engineers will have a feel that “What they learnt is right”

    You tell me, How to learn everything?
    First test engineers have to have domain knowledge.
    Its very difficult to gain 100% of product knowledge on what we are testing. It itself a big challenge. And more over you are talking about “test engineers will feel that Quality of GOD”..

    Really feeling sad to read this article.

    You said………….
    “Let me take this open bet: 90% of the testers I have met by traveling to all places in India haven’t read a testing book yet despite several years of experience”

    My Response: Why to read testing books?
    We have SRS/HLD/LLD/PRD/Applcation Guides to read and get command on the application under test or device under test.

    How many test engineers are there in India?
    How many test engineer you met till now in India?
    How can you make sure that, The people you met are really test engineers, And you said despite of experience too.. How can we say, All the test engineers you met are having genuine testing experience?

    That too you said, Its a open bet and that too for 90% of test engineers?

    On what analysis, you are saying this 90% figure?
    Any statistics you have collected?

    Please Please Please…. don’t have a feel that, Only test engineers by 10% may have read testing books and rest 90% won’t.

    Books are not at all required first of all. If we speak very frankly. Tell me how a testing definition useful in executing a test case or writing a test case?

    Just be very practical, May be in one way or the other way, The books are useful. But only reading books, Won’t makes you a good test engineer or better test engineer or best test engineer.

    Even the test engineers who diddn’t read testing books have the capability to rise more bugs, enhance test cases, learn quickly, compete easily, work smoothly etc., than that of the test engineers who read testing books. What say?

    Means that books are necessary. But its not good to have a feel that “Oh! Most of the test engineers across India I met, But how shame it is to come to know that only 10% have read books on testing”

    May be you have met 100 test engineers, or 1000 test engineers or 100000 test engineers in max in India.

    Please don’t have any bad impression that, Oh! this test engineer didn’t read testing book, So he is lack of skills to test. And Wow!!! this test engineer read testing book, Then definitely he/she can rock at his testing.

    You said…………
    “You would hardly find a developer who has not read a development related book but testers think everything about testing online is good and fine.”

    My Response: Why? Don’t you know that, Development has been covered under our academics. But testing is not? So how can you expect that, You can find a developer who didn’t read a development book?

    Its just waste of time to discuss. Because, Before he/she becomes a developer, Definitely during his/her academics itself, He/she has to go through development books. VERY SIMPLE.

    Please don’t try to find at least one person in development who didn’t read even one book related to development?

    Because you definitely endup with zero count.

    You Said………….
    “This surprises me – testers don’t test their own learning. How can I believe that they can test even half as good as they claim?”

    My Response:Who asked you to believe that “Test engineers can test even half as good as they claim”????

    Just reject the bug know – Very simple.

    If test engineers start testing their own learning?
    Then who will do testing which is their duty to carry out and which is of high priority.

    Why you are most bothering about,
    “whether test engineers are testing their own learning or not”????????
    For each and every person (test engineer), Definitely sixth sense will be there. And if it won’t works as that of developers, But at least to some extent it keeps on working for us (test engineers).

    So we (test engineers) will take care of our learning.
    You PLEASE DON’T BOTHER ABOUT THIS AT ALL.

    In this recession, Every one knows, How to take a step?
    Whats our next future? What is what of testing?

    You said………….
    “being the only person responsible for quality.”

    My Response: No test engineer will feel that, He/She alone is responsible for quality. Because everyone knows that “A mixture of all ingredients will only gives you a nice dish”.

    Hope you understand!!!!!

    I’m not at all blaming you.
    But just make sure that, Before posting an article, Read 3 to 4 times and analyse what you mean to say in clear and concise.

    Before comparing, Just make sure that, Whether the example you have chosen is really matching the criteria to compare or not?

    Let us know from your end,
    1. HOW MANY TESTING BOOKS YOU READ?
    2. HOW MANY AUTHORS YOU KNOW IN TESTING?

    Please answer without google search.

    *****************************************
    Dear All who replied to this article,
    I’m just confused “How you got satisfied with this”?
    Please read one more time, Its just direct blaming of test engineers and comparing with develpment engineers.

    I’M VERY SORRY, IF MY RESPONSE HURT YOU IN ONE WAY OR THE OTHER WAY.

    what I meant to convey is that,
    Even test engineers know what to do and what not to do.

    ********************************
    Dear Ms.Anita (#5), I totally agree with you.
    ********************************
    Dear Mr.Jaideep (#11 & 28), Unable to bypass my appreciation. One must appreciate you.
    ********************************

    Pradeep!
    Thanks for your article.

    Regards,
    Govardhan Reddy M,
    Software Test Engineer,
    “Law of win says, Lets not do it in my way or your way, But lets do it in the best way”

  18. Dear Mr.Pradeep Soundararajan (# 30),
    Good Escape with a single line. Instead of answering to my (our) questions!!!!

    Happy writing!!!

    Regards,
    Govardhan Reddy M,
    Software Test Engineer,
    “You don’t have to win every argument, Agree to disagree”.

  19. Hi Everyone,

    Pradeep, good work i respect your article. Instead i could find some negative points in it but very few. Overall its a good article written by you.

    Jaideep, good comments but it seems you have written it angrily. Every one has their own views and has right to express their views. I feel that instead of criticizing one should respect their views. From this article i feel there are more positive points compare to negative ones.

    Govardhan, again criticizing like anything. From your comment i feel that you have not understood the points mentioned by Mr.Pradeep in this article. I found few irrelevant comments from your side like 4 runs from the last ball,… I cant point out all the points due to lack of time but to make it clear on one point of ‘4runs’. Pradeep has mentioned correctly that if the batsman fails to score those 4runs from the last ball, we should not blame that batsman because its the entire team who has not scored in the begining overs, everybody’s contribution is important, if team losses everybody should be blamed not only the last batsman who fails to score 4 runs in the last ball. And, You also said that “Humans are bound to make mistakes”, now im asking you that didnt you realize that Pradeep is also a human being and can make mistakes?? He has presented his views which i found more positive points as well, the only thing he did wrong is, he talked about testers more than the developers. And its also right in one sense because he is a test engineer and he should talk about his department only. He should care of his department let the development team head cares about developers.

    Conclusion:
    Instead of criticizing we should see to it that we filter the good points and appreciate the speakers on it. As far as a test engineer is concerned, he should give his 100% from his side and work with the developers because coding and testing relates with each other.

    Thanx

  20. I think forum is for expressing views in context of topic posted. No “UPDESH” over here. Lectures are not recommended, expected, respected or required.

  21. @Poundarajan,

    You are right thats what i said in my comment this forum is to express different views from different people, there should not be debate or argument. For you if its UPDESH and if u dont want to take it, leave it but dont stop anyone from saying few good things because its an open forum. And i think i spoke on the context only. Brother, this is not an argument. Hope you understand.

    Thanx

  22. Excellent article. This also has a lot to do with the attitude of management. The higher management teams in India always encourage developers and test engineers to be at logger heads with each other. In stead of encouraging team work they encourage one up man ship.

  23. @ Govardhan Reddy M
    You are a true test team defender! My team mates, who started their career as tester are now working as business consultants. In fact , in some organizations, a test team decide whether the product can be launched or not. Customer has no time for test drive, they rely on domain test expert, and it’s a highly paid job in Europe

  24. what so ever the the article is all about. The forum is to express ones personal views. No one can question others personal views. please refrain from aversion and denouncing.

  25. Dear Mr.Amit (#46),
    Just install trial version of hp loadrunner from hp official web site.

    After successful installation, You can find

    1. Installation guide.
    2. Quick start.
    3. Tutorial.
    4. More about load testing.

    All the above four documents in pdf form.

    Regards,
    Govardhan Reddy M,
    Software Test Engineer,
    “Results matter, Efforts won’t”

  26. Hi,
    Really a nice article which demonstrated the real scenarios that are seen in most of the test development projects.

    Rgds,
    Vijaya Krishna
    QA Lead

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