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Rajesh D
Junior Member


Reged: 01/22/02
Posts: 18
Loc: chennai,TamilNadu,India
QA Role/Developer's role!
      #170342 - 04/28/02 10:29 PM

lots of discussions and debates abt what is the role of qa and what all he is suppose to do . just wondering whether any such issue has crept up with regards to a developer's role . i'vent come across any such ambiguity expressed in a developer's role . if so , what has caused so much diversity in the role of a qa , why could'nt the role be defined and maintained smoothly?feel test engineering could have played a major role in this .
what do others feel?

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PeterNairn
Advanced Member


Reged: 06/22/01
Posts: 551
Loc: United Kingdom
Re: QA Role/Developer's role!
      #170343 - 04/29/02 01:43 AM

Rajesh,
I think this is quite an interesting question. Taking the point of there being no ambiguity in developers role first. If you look at the history of developing software, there have been some distinct phases (and a number of intermediate ones, too):

Phase 1: Early programmers were hardware people who developed the hardware and then had to write software to run on it. These people were the pioneers of the computer industry and they had to do everything, make the hardware work, write the software, test it, document it, operate the system, support the system. They were, generally, the only ones who could actually use a computer, i.e. no end users. No confusion at all about roles.

Phase 2: The concept of software development began. Here, there were end users, and the computer department (often part of the Accounts department, as most early applications were financial) was responsible for the software development and operations, with hardware being taken over by manufacturers (mainly IBM). Software people were split up into groups, coders, programmers, System Analysts, System designers (Note, no testers!). At this point, there was a lot of confusion/overlap between what was a coder and what was a programmer and what was a programmer and what was a System Analyst. I am old enough to remember going for programming jobs which were really coding jobs or were System Analyst jobs,

Phase 3: The advent of 3rd generation languages and structured programming did away with the distinction between coder and programmer and the coder function was subsumed into the programmer function (thank goodness! Pure coding was mind-blowingly dull!). There was still some overlaps and confusion between roles and there were many articles in the computer press about the differences between System Analysts and Programmers.

Phase 4: Where we are now. We have software developers who are expected to be able to design and program. You rarely see the role of System Analyst any more, you do see Business Analysts who perform some of the old role of System Analysts, but most of the work is done by developers. You also see System Architects who did not really exist before and they are required due to the increasing complexity of systems. The job of software development has matured sufficiently to make the role of developers quite well defined, so there is not much room for confusion.

So, there has been ambiguity in the role of developers, but that has mostly gone now.

Which brings me to the second point in your question, why is there the diversity in the role of QA. I think there are a number of reasons:

QA and Test are used interchangeably by a lot of people. There are differing views on this, but I believe they are different, need different skills, have different missions and should be separate functions. Others believe that they are performing a sufficiently similar role that they are one function. I dont want to get into that debate here, but that difference in beliefs causes confusion both amongst our community and outside it.

Lack of maturity. It is scary how immature QA and test are in software development. Despite the fact that software testing has been in place since the advent of computers and QA has been a concept way before computers, we are still immature as a discipline. You only need to go through qaforums for a short period of time to find very basic questions being asked that is not a criticism of the people asking the questions, it is a criticism of the wider Software Development community in general and the QA and Test community in particular in that we have not had the real pioneers who have dragged the discipline into being more mature. There are people who have tried or are trying, in particular people like James Bach, Brian Marick, Brett Pettichord, Bill Hetzel, Boris Beizer to name a few, there are standards like CMM, ISO9000, but we arent there yet and there certainly isnt any common agreement on what a Mature QA/Test organisation would look like. (And, there are some very polarised views amongst people who do lead our field, which does not help).

Playing catch-up. QA and Test are forever playing catch-up with developments in software development. If we are catching up with new concepts in software development, it is hard to be with them and influence them. Take XP as an example, if a shop embraces XP, then the test group has to then work out what their role is in an XP environment, there was no formula for test in that environment, it had to catch-up. You could argue that this will always be the case, and you might even be correct, but it doesnt help to define the role of QA and Test.

Both developers and test groups do testing. Developers do unit testing and, often, integration testing. Test groups do System testing. Where does one stop and the other begin? There can be an overlap and, it is possible to argue, System Testing is just the last stage of Integration testing (No, I dont agree with that, but I have heard it forcibly argued!). The fact that both groups do Testing causes confusion on roles.

We are an overhead. QA and Test are not seen as actually producing anything, so we have to justify our existence far ore often than a developer does. No-one is going to ask an IT group to justify the need for developers, it is just blatantly obvious that if you want to produce software you have to have someone to produce it. It is not so blatantly obvious for the need for testers (except to those of us in Test!).

And I leave you with a final thought. One of the things that we, as testers, are very good at is finding faults. Give a tester something to look at or think about and we will do a great job of finding the faults in it. Ask us to solve those faults and we dont score so highly. Look at what I have written above, lots of fault finding, not much in how to solve this is typical of a tester. We can be our own worst enemies at times remember the old joke How many testers does it take to change a light bulb? None, we just report that it is dark.

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Rajesh D
Junior Member


Reged: 01/22/02
Posts: 18
Loc: chennai,TamilNadu,India
Re: QA Role/Developer's role!
      #170344 - 04/29/02 04:14 AM

great! is one word i can associate ur lengthy write up with . the answer for the second question has given me a great deal to think abt . thanks a lot for the descriptive reply.
do u beleive the condition is going to remain the same w.r.t
1)The Catchup
2)Immaturity
3)Requiring to justify the existance .

Even in my office this immuturity and catchup is one thing i've been complaining abt to the management abt . the real cause for concern is that the lack of knowledge on the 'role and responsiblities of qa ' is not properly understood even among the QAs.they are satisfied with the service they offer as a test engineer though they are entitled as qa.
thought that we were just running through the early patches and things will be rectified soon , but ur mail has made me think .
feel i've something to escalate in this aspect .
once again thank u for the reply.

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QAGirl
Veteran


Reged: 08/14/01
Posts: 2678
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Re: QA Role/Developer's role!
      #170345 - 04/29/02 04:29 AM

I agree with many of Peter's points, but thought I'd chime in as well.

Why is there less ambiguity in determining the role of development on a project?

Mostly because there's less ambiguity in what they do, in my opinion. A developer is responsible for designing and coding an application in a particular language. There may be certain variables involved, but for the most case, their role is very clear - build this application.

Why is there so much ambiguity about the role of QA on a project?

Consider Peter's points, but also consider the fact that the role of a Quality Assurance group is defined very differently in any organization. Additionally, there is a different view of Quality from management within many companies, and this causes some confusion or ambiguity about the roles QA should be responsible for within the context of that company, regardless of any industry standards.

I agree that a great deal of this can be contributed to the immaturity of our profession (and understanding and agreeing with caveats Peter supplied here), but also think that a more standardized or accepted view of QA may not change the ambiguity of our role.

Quality and testing practices are most effective when considered in context - and that context is always going to be dynamic. Not only will it be dependent on the company, but also on things like business constraints, the experience and knowledge of testers, whether automation is involved, and so many other variables. These things will *always* contribute to some level of ambiguity, in my opinion.

Why are they so different?

Personally, I think a portion, at least, of this, can be contributed to the difference in general structure in most organizations with regard to Developers and Testers/QA Analysts. Generally speaking, a developer will work on one project at a time - solely focusing on that project, its needs and challenges, and programming for that one set of requirements.

Most QA/Test analysts, on the other hand, are responsible for multiple projects, and expected to vary and define their role on a given project based on an analysis of the risks involved with that project in particular. Perhaps on Project A, I will need to devote a great deal more time and effort, and complete stringent data validation because of modifications to the schema and or tables in the database, but on Project B, most changes are strictly UI based, and as such, require only a regression test to ensure that everything is working correctly. Picking and choosing the type of testing to be completed on a given project is a part of testing it correctly, but can also give some an impression of ambiguity even from within our ranks, as opposed to based upon perspective.

Personally, I think that the best way to overcome such differences, and perceptions, is to attempt to help others better understand what we do, from both a Quality and Test perspective, so that any ambiguity is welcomed, rather than questioned.

Just some additional thoughts.

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** To affect the Quality of the day, that is the highest of arts ** H.D. Thoreau

~ Annemarie Martin ~
annemarie[dot]martin2[at]verizon[dot]net


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PeterNairn
Advanced Member


Reged: 06/22/01
Posts: 551
Loc: United Kingdom
Re: QA Role/Developer's role!
      #170346 - 04/29/02 04:31 AM

quote:
Originally posted by Rajesh D:
.....do u beleive the condition is going to remain the same w.r.t
1)The Catchup
2)Immaturity
3)Requiring to justify the existance .

The optimist in me says that things will get better - but then I am an optimist by nature. The realist in me says that it is going to take something, or someone, special to change it.

quote:

.........feel i've something to escalate in this aspect .
once again thank u for the reply.



Suggestion: I hope that others will pitch in to the discussion, so I would wait until you get other views to think on first before you escalate.

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ademin
Member


Reged: 01/21/00
Posts: 131
Loc: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Re: QA Role/Developer's role!
      #170347 - 04/29/02 07:28 PM

quote:


1)The Catchup
2)Immaturity
3)Requiring to justify the existance .



Work hard, and you will overcome any obstacle.

The catchup - work hard, learn the product from top to bottom eveyone will be catching you not you catching others.

Immaturty - Work hard, learn the product, write your plan. Be mature, do not care about immaturity of others.

Requiring to justify the existance - Work hard, learn the product. Pretty soon you will be questioning existence o others.


[This message has been edited by ademin (edited 04-29-2002).]

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Rajesh D
Junior Member


Reged: 01/22/02
Posts: 18
Loc: chennai,TamilNadu,India
Re: QA Role/Developer's role!
      #170348 - 04/29/02 08:44 PM

Hi Ademin ,

I agree with u , as it is always said there is no other alternative to hard work .
Apart from working hard another imporatant point i'd like to add is 'work smart' . make sure u are heard whenever u scream. substantiate whatever u speak with credible evidences . u got to slowly and steadily draw people into the stride.

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