Testing is not quality assurance.

The project had been running for a year when we started to realize that we would never be able to make it.

I was the test lead, and we demonstrated the reasons to the board of directors repeatedly. The owner of the product did come to the same conclusion eight months later, but not after we had wasted millions and millions of funding.

Those last months were the most insightful time of my career. We mercilessly went through issues and tried to find solutions in grand weekend camps of testing and fixing.

Finally, we started hearing the all too familiar questioning that testing professionals always seem to face when trouble arises.

Your mission is to assure of the quality. You are quality assurance! Why does everything in this project go off road? Don’t you do your job?!

Quality assurer commuting :D — Photo by Lily Lvnatikk on Unsplash

Quality assurance does sound grand, I’ve got to admit. And it looks pretty intense on a business card as well. Too bad that it has little to do with testing.

During the last months of the project, I learned more debating skills than ever before. I learned to deal with mindset mistakes and assumptions that people who didn’t know about testing made about testing.

Outsider easily imagines that testers are responsible for quality, even though the reality is entirely different.

  • Tester has no power over the source code,
  • Tester has no power over development practices,
  • Tester has no power over the budget,
  • Tester has no power over project schedule & shipment.

So why on earth would we want to call it quality assurance, when those doing it have no control over the quality?

Quality assurance is a grand word, but it sets the mindscape to the wrong tracks right from the start. It implies responsibility over the quality when in fact quality is the responsibility of everyone.

Testing produces nothing but information that would support both development and decision-making.

The goal of testing is not to build confidence or to assure others. The actual mission of testing is to destroy all of the false confidence for an opportunity of better products to arise.

Testing tells the truth and nothing but the truth. Quality is something that emerges in its wake.

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