How to Plan the Perfect 'T' Party

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contribute to the quality of the product. Developers know; they sense the difference.

The guests at my 'T' Party have been vocal with their appreciation. I have heard developers worry out loud that the testers are being stretched too thin. I have had developers cheer when I shuffled workloads to cover their projects. I have had product managers send their new developers to the testing staff for training. Satisfied by a history of good service, our developers have become tester advocates. And management is paying attention.

The Measure of Success
"Discernment is often far more accurate than either observation or measurement." Stephren R. Covery

In this paper, I have presented techniques that a testing manager may use to nurture the professional relationships of software testers. I feel confident that these techniques are working in practice. Here is how I have measured their success.

  • Retention: I have worked to deserve the trust of my staff. I keep employees happy by challenging them through their jobs and by creating a comfortable work environment. If employee retention is a measure of success, I have done well. In the eight-year history of our division's testing staff, only one employee has left.
  • Teamwork: I want my staff to respect and rely on their fellow testers. Whether through their participation in the hiring process or in regular staff meetings, testers have made an effort to stay in tune with each other. Teamwork pays off; prospective applicants often say that the reputation of our group helps to attract them.
  • Collaboration: Through diligence and positive attitudes, the testing staff has convinced developers of testing's effectiveness. Developers include us at earlier and earlier phases in the software lifecycle. They seek our opinions, use our tools, and embrace our presence on the development team.
  • Support: I need management to recognize the valuable contribution that testing and testers make to the quality of the software. With clear, concise communication, I believe I have delivered that message. My manager has responded with strong support for the testing staff; his division has one of the best developer-to-tester ratios at our company.

I have presented some subjective ways that I measure success. However, in an attempt to gauge my staff's impact a little more objectively, I conducted a software quality survey at the Institute. I sought the customer view of quality from the Technical Support Division. I queried developers and testers about the development processes and relationships in their respective divisions. Information on the survey is summarized in the Appendix below.

I hope that the management tips described in this paper trigger some useful ideas for other testing professionals. Clearly, I believe these techniques have contributed to the success of my testing staff. And I agree with Dr. Covey: we can rely on our ability to discern success. I will close with an anonymous quote from one of our developers: "One of the keys to good software is the interaction between developers and testers. Both are absolutely essential for a great product. When both are striving to do their best, there is no better situation."

References

  • "Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989).
  • Smith, Perry M. Taking Charge: Making the Right Choices (New York: Avery Publishing Group Inc., 1988).
  • Roberts, Wess Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun (New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1989) 

Appendix
Software Quality Survey Results
Survey Background

In an attempt to measure the success of my division, IDB, I created a survey for the development staff in SAS Institute's R&D. I also asked our Technical Support staff to participate, to provide a

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