Last week I was re-reading one of the best books ever written, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, when a crazy idea came to mind: the relationship between a developer and a tester is quite similar to the one described by Austen in her novel.
For those who haven’t had the good fortune of reading this wonderful novel yet (I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as possible), here is a brief summary: Elizabeth Bennett is a witty and independent young woman. Mr. Darcy is a rich gentleman. Her early determination to dislike him is a prejudice only matched by the folly of his arrogant pride. But their first impressions and misunderstandings give way to true feelings.
So, how can we relate these aspects? Let me explain it with an example of my own experience.
Last year my test team, let’s call it Miss Tester, had to test an application developed by a group of programmers led by a functional analyst, let’s call them Mr. Developer. This application was very, very important for the client (it was for billing management) and the development team had worked hard on it and had done its own tests in a very thorough way. However, the client insisted on having it tested by Miss Tester, and this decision was not well received by Mr. Developer, who considered it unnecessary since he was very proud of his product, just like the proud Mr. Darcy. Miss Tester, on the contrary, based on previous experiences with other applications, considered it completely indispensable. She was a little predisposed to prejudices, just like Miss Bennett was.
Miss Tester had a problem: even though she was very smart and witty, there wasn’t enough documentation for her to understand how the program worked. So, she had to ask Mr. Developer. But she did in a very belligerent way, implying that he may not know the expected behavior of the application. At the beginning he was really haughty and reluctant to help her, which made the relationship between them very difficult. Moreover, every time Miss Tester reported a defect, Mr. Developer’s first reaction was to try to find a way to cancel it, demonstrating it was not a defect but a misunderstanding of the functionality.
The situation came to a breaking point and both of them realized that, in order to succeed, they had to find a way to work together and overcome their pride and their prejudices. So, once Miss Tester discovered that the application didn’t have as many defects as she thought and Mr. Developer understood that the purpose of the test team wasn’t underestimating his work, they could release a good software product to the client, who was really satisfied with it.
In conclusion, the relationship between a developer and a tester is never easy. But, since our goal is the same, we must try to get on well and avoid pride and prejudices.