As a manager, you’re in charge of developing and running a software-based product or service. You have the authority and the mandate to make important decisions about the project scope, staffing, budgets, customer relationships, product quality—and when the product is ready to be shipped. In order to make those decisions, many people will supply you with information—so what’s special about testers? What should you expect to hear from them, and what should you ask them about?
Many managers are used to asking for and receiving numbers—“pass/fail ratios”, “defect containment ratios”, “percentage of testing completed” and the like. Often these numbers revolve around “test cases”. But testing isn’t about test cases, and the kind of information you need doesn’t come in the form of numbers, unless you want to be distracted, ill-informed, or misled. Excellent testing and test reporting is focused helping you understand the status of the product and on the testing story.
Testing provides you with visibility and insight into the product and the project. Skilled testers are like telescopes and microscopes, allowing you to see things that are very small or very far away. But the best kind of testing is not just data collection. The best testers are like social scientists too, understanding the software, the systems that are connected with it, the people who use it, and the relationships between them, and how all that affects you.
In this session, Michael Bolton (who has extensive experience as a tester, as a programmer, and as a project manager) explains the role of skilled software testers, and why you might not want to think of testing as "quality assurance". He'll present ideas about the relationship between management and testers, and about the service that testers really provide: alerting managers to problems that threaten the value of the product, and the on-time successful completion of the project.