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  1. #1
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    Who should be blamed?

    If a bug is detected by the users of a software who should be actually blamed, is it the developers or the testers ?

    ------------------
    Thanks and regards
    QAguy
    Thanks and regards
    superbQA

  2. #2
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    Who cares as long as it gets fixed?

    At least that is my opinion. I'm guessing everyone has heard the saying there is no "I" in "TEAM". Well, I also happen to be of the opinion that there is no "blame" in "team".

    If you want someone to blame, blame the project manager - they are ultimately responsible for the application - good or bad (and yes I still feel that way when I am acting as a project manager).

    ------------------
    Scott Barber, Sr. Performance Engineer
    sbarber@noblestar.com
    http://www.noblestar.com
    http://www.perftestplus.com
    Scott Barber
    Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus
    Executive Director, Association for Software Testing
    Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
    sbarber@perftestplus.com

    If you can see it in your mind...
    you will find it in your life.

  3. #3
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    A project manager cannot supervise each and every action of a Tester and how can he be blamed completely.If so,there are other positons below the project manager,who should also be blamed.To conclude ,I think there is no particular person to put the blame upon when a critical bug goes unnoticed.Rather the whole team seems responsible for it.
    Thanks and regards
    superbQA

  4. #4
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    Hot button!!

    No blame at all, but a lesson learned.

    Study the defect found and answer a few questions.
    <LI>Is it a missing requirment, a wrong requirement, or an extra requirement.
    <LI>Was it specifically stated anywhere in the requirements that the system would or would not do this?
    <LI>Was a test step, scenario, or use case written to check this?

    After answering these questions, document your findings, fix the defect, and make sure that you include tests for this in future iterations.

    There's no blame to be placed - just a lesson to be learned, and improvements to be made.

    The QAI-CSTE CBOK has the following;
    PDCA
    Plan
    Do
    Check
    ACT


    Just act on the findings and your processes will improve more each time.

    ------------------
    -- Jean

    Something that you say or do today will make a difference to someone else.
    Make it a GOOD thing!
    Jean James
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    I deliver what I promise, and I only promise what I can deliver.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

  5. #5
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by superbQA:
    If a bug is detected by the users of a software who should be actually blamed, is it the developers or the testers ?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Simple answer: we have no information at all about any particular hypothetical situation to answer this question except by broad generalities.

    I agree with others to a large extent in that the first priority is getting this fixed. That said, however, it is important to determine why this bug was never found. Was it in an area that was tested? If so, why was it missed? Is it in an area that was not tested? If so, why was the area not tested? Was this because of an integration issue or was this in a single module? Was it because this was something a developer threw in even after the final test cycle?

    Obviously these are important questions and while someone could use the results of such questions to play a blame-game, not asking these questions and not trying to determine at least some level of responsibility and accountability so that the problem can be corrected in the future, is silly. Mistakes (such as leaving bugs in) are, as someone else mentioned, a good lesson learned. But often no one learns the lesson if they do not feel at least some responsibility for the issue in the first place. We live in a nice politically-correct world where we can assume that somehow things that happen are, quite literally, nobody's fault and that is just silly. (That is why we have words like "being responsible" and "being accountable".) Sometimes, of course, it is possible that unforeseen systemic or localized issues conspire to create situations that were truly independent of the actions of any one team or group. But the point is: try to determine which is the case and then deal with that.

    So, who is responsible for a bug getting into the field can depend. On a given situation, it might have been a mistake on the test team's part. On yet another situation, it might have been a mistake on the development team's part. You have to take each situation like this individually and determine why it actually happened and what you can do to prevent future recurrences of the problem.

    [This message has been edited by Cryptonomic (edited 12-30-2002).]

  6. #6
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    I'm actually going to follow up my post a little because I don't think I made my point very well.

    1) I completely agree: fix, evaluate how, learn, apply what was learned in the future.

    2) Blame (in my book) does NOT equate to responsibility/accountability AT ALL. Blame is what people do who want to point fingers. Personally, I do not tollerate any type of blame in any group of people I am with (to include my family). Blame is what poorly behaved children do when they don't want to take responsibility for their own actions. There is no room for blame in a professional environment.

    3) Of course the project manager can't supervise everything all the time. Doesn't matter. They are in charge. Everything that happens is, by definition, their fault (**note** fault implies causation, not that something negative has happened - fault can be a good thing). If the project manager is a good one, everything good is due to their people and everything bad is the project manager's responsibility. Maybe that is my military training coming out again, but that is how I feel. I have no respect for any project manager who takes credit for what their team has done, or who pins responsibility on anyone other than themselves for anything that doesn't go well. Now, that project manager DOES have the responsibility to hold the appropriate person accountable if a mistake or an oversight has been made. The key is, that should be transparent to anyone outside of the project team (or for that matter anyone other than the project manager and the accountable party).

    4) Who is ACCOUNTABLE for a "delivered defect"? Everyone - unless or until it can be shown that a particluar individual was intentionally negligent. Think of a football team (sorry, bowl season). If your team loses, is it the quaterback's fault for throwing that interception? The offense for not scoring on that key drive? The defense for not stopping that long pass? The coach for bad play calling? The waterboy because the tailback triped over the bucket? No. They are a team. They are all the reason they lost. The QB is accountable for the interception (maybe), but he did not CAUSE the team to lose.

    Ok, I'm going to stop ranting now.

    ------------------
    Scott Barber, Sr. Performance Engineer
    sbarber@noblestar.com
    http://www.noblestar.com
    http://www.perftestplus.com
    Scott Barber
    Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus
    Executive Director, Association for Software Testing
    Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
    sbarber@perftestplus.com

    If you can see it in your mind...
    you will find it in your life.

  7. #7
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by RSBarber:
    2) Blame (in my book) does NOT equate to responsibility/accountability AT ALL.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I agree that the term is too emotive. I tend to avoid it. Realistically, of course, the term "blame" means "to hold responsible; to place responsibility for." The problem is that it often takes on a much more disparaging tone and, for that reason, I avoid the word even though, in fact, it is the correct term in general. That is because another definition of "blame" is "to find fault with" and that often leads to the finger-pointing and morale-defeating elements.

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>4) Who is ACCOUNTABLE for a "delivered defect"? Everyone ...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This is a little too simplistic for me. (I am not saying you are too simplistic; just this general notion as it is worded.) Not everyone has the same level of responsibility and/or authority and that means we must recognize that there are degrees of accountability. This is the most common conceptual problem I have to deal with in just about every engagement. People seem to accept the logical fallacy that "{something} is everyone's responsibility" and even if you advocate that as some sort of abstract, people often do not relate to abstracts. What I like to do is point out domains of responsibility and spheres of accountability. That is much more conducive to a team environment, as a general rule. Sometimes, of course, it is the case that the team as a whole can be referred to as where the root cause happened. Other times, however, it might truly come back to an individual. This is all part of good problem analysis. Example for this thread: if one particular developer slipped in a "quick-fix" the night before the release, after final testing was done, because he thought it would do no harm, and that "quick-fix" is the defect, obviously sitting there trying to avoid the fact that one individual did this is silly. This person needs to be told that this is not the correct way to do things because people tend to learn lessons better when they are directly confronted with the results of their own actions. One can, however, present these lessons learned in a non-combative fashion. So, yes, the development team as a whole could be said to be accountable for doing "quick fixes" like this, but in this particluar instance one individual was, in fact, responsible for this.

    Again, however, as I stated: with the original poster's question, we really have no situational details so the question cannot be answered except in some sort of categorical way (like "quality is everyone's responsibility"). Also, on this theme, I recommend the book The Thinking Manager's Toolbox by William Altier. While it does not talk about the "blame game", per se, it does talk about a lot of issues that potentially lead up to that such as the practices of problem analysis, opportunity analysis, and situation assessment.

    ------------------

  8. #8
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    I was once on a project where a critical bug was delivered to the client. The impact on the client was HUGE. There was fall out - someone's head was going to have to go on a platter.

    The VP's first stop was at my desk. How could you let this get out???

    I told them that I'd need the details of the issue so that I could recreate it. I'd have a report to them within the day.

    It turned out that a change had been put through that had not been submitted to the QA team. It had been deemed such a 'small fix' (insert your sighs of disgust and rolling eyes here....), that they didn't think it needed to be tested.

    I had my logs and timestamps of the versions which had been delivered to me. The version which had been delivered to the client was later timestamped than anything that had been given to me. I had not signed off on the version that was delivered.

    The 'blame-train' then ran over to the developers. Why did this get delivered to the client??

    They then explained that there is work constantly going on. Many more versions are made than are ever tested. Only when QA asks for a submission are the latest sets of code released for testing. They have no control over which version is tested or released.

    The 'blame-train' then ran straight into the PMs office. They then got put through the wringer until they came up with the fact that the VP themself had asked for a last minute change that the client had asked for and had 'pushed it through'.

    It was then an 'oversight' that had been attributed to the compressed timeline, blah blah blah.

    We lost the account.

    The problem with the blame game is that it wastes precious time and money. Assess the issue, find why it was able to make it through, plug the hole, document it for future reference so that it won't happen again.

    ------------------

  9. #9
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by digits71:
    The problem with the blame game is that it wastes precious time and money. Assess the issue, find why it was able to make it through, plug the hole, document it for future reference so that it won't happen again.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Digits: I definitely agree. The problem is that many people see "assessing the issue" as part of playing the so-called "blame game" because when you assess the issue, it may lead back to one team or even to one person. They will then feel they (or the group as a whole) are being blamed. You say "find why it was able to make it through" and this will usually lead to a group or a person. So even if you do not think you are playing the "blame game", others might perceive it that way. That was sort of my point. That is why I have found good process engineering (or methodology engineering or whatever else you want to call it) should have some element of defining agreed upon domains of responsibility and spheres of accountability.

    I think this is a good discussions because this has always been one of the more challenging aspects for me going into an organization and attempting to implement any sort of process because, inevitably, someone (or some group) has to be given responsibilities and that means they have accountability for their given elements. If they are not held accountable for not holding to their responsibilities, what is the point of establishing responsibilities in the first place? In your case, the issue at the surface is the VP pushing through the change. Below the surface you might have the issue of the danger of pushing through changes and how the process is set up to account for this occurrence. (There is a lot contained within the phrase "pushed it through" so it is difficult to comment further.)

    So, in general, and relative to the title of this post ("Who Should Be Blamed?"), I do not ask this. But what I do ask is where the problem had the opportunity to be caught proactively. Sometimes there can be multiple opportunities where the problem could have been found. Sometimes you find that certain problems came about because responsibilities were not delineated adequately. But looking at these kinds of things often necessarily points to a team or even to a person. The question for most people is how they deal with that situation. I have found this be a balance. You do not necessarily go out of your way to coddle fragile egos but you also do not go on a unmitigated verbal tirade of the group or individual responsible either. Therein, I think, lies the balance and the challenge. It would be interesting and valuable to hear how people deal with these issues.

    ------------------

  10. #10
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    Re: Who should be blamed?

    Fascinating. I agree with both of you - from a perspective...

    digits - were you the project manager of that project or the QA manager? If you were the QA manager and the VP came to your desk I think that is flat wrong. That is where I differ with you guys. Anyone outside the team has (in my opinion) exactly 1 point of contact, the project manager. As far as the VP is concerned, the person responsible is the project manager. Period. The project manager then needs to track, assign, research and all the other stuff we have been discussing. If the VP doesn't trust the project manager enough to do that, then the VP needs to get a new project manager.

    I know there are a lot of people who don't agree with me on this, but (in case you hadn't noticed) I feel very strongly about it. If responsibility (project management in this case) is assigned then the authority and trust must also be assigned to accomplish the task.

    If you don't trust me to do the job you assigned to me, then assign it to someone else.

    I'm tangenting again. I guess what it boils down to is the person who is responsible should be held accountable, but we can't possibly know who that person is without a LOT more context.

    ------------------
    Scott Barber, Sr. Performance Engineer
    sbarber@noblestar.com
    http://www.noblestar.com
    http://www.perftestplus.com
    Scott Barber
    Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus
    Executive Director, Association for Software Testing
    Co-Author, Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications
    sbarber@perftestplus.com

    If you can see it in your mind...
    you will find it in your life.

 

 
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