by Jarkko Huttunen, 6MTech, September 29, 2013

William James said “Wisdom is learning what to overlook.” That is exactly what decision makers do. They make informed business decision in controlled environment. Then there is you. A QA expert.

Your job as a software tester is to keep the decision makers informed. Provide them clear, informative data so they can fully understand what your findings mean and what are their consequences of overall development.
Then fully informed decision makers can start doing their job. Part of which is “overlooking” the bugs you found.
Second part of your job is to suck it up.

It’s nothing personal. That is tester’s role in 2013. We evolve and renew ourselves with the rest of the development.
Most experienced testers still claim that:

Responsible software tester mitigates the risk”.

They are right in a sense that this is the goal of testing in a broader sense.
But it is NOT a responsibility of a tester.

We can see how it came to be like this. We were taught at the university and started testing around the turn of a Millennium. Times were different back then. From the perspective of today’s technology that was the Jurassic era.
Remember these? Software technology in 1999


In reality risk mitigation is a task of the management.

You as a tester are the one to hand them your findings. The information needed to make the decisions.

Simply put, Software testers are information consultants.
We find errors, record them, present them in clear informative form (take the receiver into notice) and carry on testing.
What the management is doing with the findings is up to them. When well informed, they can make controlled risk decisions based on your findings.

role of a tester
You might have found a dozen minor bugs in a web application that has launch date coming up.
As awesome as it would be to get all those bugs fixed and reach that “Perfect software” status in your books, it is not the number one priority in management’s books.
They make a choice. To postpone the launch to fix the bugs you found and pay the high price of fixed cost and lost income for that time. Or to launch on time with the bug in it.
So it is vitally important for the decision makers to thoroughly understand what your findings actually mean.
Often it is better to launch on time with minor errors and get the software out and quickly start working on the first patch.

Now, if your report is communicated clearly enough, your managers will have understanding of the defects and are in position to make a risk judgement.
Poorly communicated defect leads to misunderstandings and the launch can go so far south that it might never recover.
Each company is a case of its own so it is pointless to paint the picture any further but you got the point.

Points I want you to consider

Software testing = communicating

Present Information, not just raw data.
Present your findings so clearly that they are understood, not just received.
Be information consultant. Deliver Excellent report and leave rest to your managers.
Focus on this and management can make informed decisions.
-> You will be thanked. Not yelled at.