2 Simple Ways to Improve Developer-Tester Relationships
Supposedly there is a constant tension between developers and testers, like the artist and the art critic. They can’t exist without each other, and yet they can’t get along.
I’ve worked in both roles and have seen the hostility, but I also know that it is completely unnecessary.
Here are two ways testers can reduce that feeling so that developers and testers work better together.
Realize that you aren’t breaking software
Testers tend to be a rebellious bunch. They like to find things that are wrong—it is a character trait that helps them do a good job.
Years ago when I was teaching software testing courses, we would do introductions first: your name and something you like about testing. About a quarter of the time, people would say they liked “breaking” software. Their goal was to take a developer’s hard work, smash it up, and throw it back in their face.
You can’t really break software. It’s code; it exists just the way it is. The code always has problems. Sometimes we find them. Sometimes we don’t. But that isn’t really the point.
Developers work hard at what they do, and of course there is some ego and feelings involved in making a piece of software and then asking for opinions on how well that software works.
Being diplomatic goes a long way toward engendering a trusting working relationship between developers and testers. I’d go so far to say that diplomacy is one of the more important testing skills.
Work with the development team
It is still common to have the roles of developer and tester officially working on separate teams that each has its own pay structures, leads, managers, and sometimes even different parts of the building.
That means we have two teams, with two different goals and two distinct cultures, supposedly working together to release good software. Based on my experience, the separation of roles and teams doesn’t work well.
One of the best ways to create empathy is to spend time with a group of people you don’t know.
The most productive development team I have worked on all worked together. People in the dev and test roles talked about code changes before work started—what was changing, what the business goal was, and how everyone imagined the testing strategy. There were check-ins between the roles throughout the development and testing process to see how development was going and to what testing had discovered so far.
It was impossible to be dismissive of the skill and value of another person when we worked together daily.
Actually joining the development team for a period of time to get a deeper understanding would help too, but working closely together is a nice start.
Relationships between developers and testers don’t have to be hostile or tense. The roles work in tandem toward the same goal. Approaching the work with a fresh mindset and chipping away at some historic separation between roles can make a world of difference.