State of the Industry

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Bonus Question
Share any strategies that have or have not worked for you and why. Express yourself as freely as you can.

Many respondents said they were just as interested as I was in what was working, since they were also searching. What's especially interesting about this is that it came down not so much to metrics—though of course they are a factor—but more to "touchy feely" suggestions. There isn't enough room to share them all, but they did seem to fall into certain categories that I found fascinating and are worth mentioning.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
This was expressed in many ways but boiled down to the same thing: Stay connected. Talk to all stakeholders, involve yourself throughout the process, make sure everyone understands what you are doing and also that you understand what they are up against. Be an active, contributing member of the team. Maintain close ties with customers so you know what they need, work closely with developers as peers and partners, and always keep management fully and promptly informed.

Also interesting is that companies using agile approaches seem to be the most likely to promote healthy communication. Perhaps it's because agility depends on cross-functional teams that work closely together.

Don't Take Your Job Too Seriously
This was also expressed as "don't care too much." In other words, keep perspective. With rare exceptions, a bug isn't going to kill anyone and there will always be another release after this one. Don't let the drama of deadlines work you into a frenzy or the apparent insensitivity or cluelessness of management drive you crazy. Look for the humor (Dilbert references figured prominently), and find fun where you can.

This also means not martyring yourself. Don't work too many hours. Don't let your health and relationships suffer by trying to meet unrealistic demands. If it's too much, then quit. It's not worth it; there are other opportunities.

Culture and Measure
It's not news that companies that nurture a culture of mutual respect among all employees are welcome places to work, regardless of your profession. But for testers it's more than that; it's being noticed and appreciated, and sometimes that means that an unanticipated pat on the back or free lunch is almost as valuable as a formal bonus program. As one person put it, "Good words and respect are priceless."

Measurement is important, but it may not be what we traditionally think of. My favorites were those that suggested measuring customer satisfaction, market share, competitive wins, and other business-oriented goals that give true meaning to "quality." In other words, don't measure what you do—number of test cases developed or executed, defects found, hours worked, etc.—measure the results! Everyone wants to be part of a winning team.

One column is not enough to share all the insight and ideas I was lucky enough to receive, so stay tuned. Thanks to all who took the time to complete the survey and/or express your views online and through email. I feel much better about our profession.

About the author

Linda Hayes's picture Linda Hayes

Linda G. Hayes is a founder of Worksoft, Inc., developer of next-generation test automation solutions. Linda is a frequent industry speaker and award-winning author on software quality. She has been named as one of Fortune magazine's People to Watch and one of the Top 40 Under 40 by Dallas Business Journal. She is a regular columnist and contributor to StickyMinds.com and Better Software magazine, as well as a columnist for Computerworld and Datamation, author of the Automated Testing Handbook and co-editor Dare To Be Excellent with Alka Jarvis on best practices in the software industry. You can contact Linda at lhayes@worksoft.com.

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