As testers we often have a unique position within a development We therefore have a possibility to take a holistic approach and scrutinize the way of working.
When testing a safety critical system we often find ourselves being constrained by highly detailed processes. We might have promised our customer a specific testing method, industry standards need to be followed and we probably have high requirements on our documentation.
As a small part of a large project it is easy to get stuck in details and to be blinded by numbers and key figures. Figures that may look good on paper, but risk being irrelevant to the end goal. How relevant is it that your tests cover all requirements if the tests or even the requirements are sub par to start with? Do we test the right things? Do our test results add the value that they should? Does your organization capture your input in a good way? Does the documentation get in the way of the actual testing?
Detailed documentation is of course important when designing a large system where failure might actually mean life or death, but there is always the risk of putting too much emphasis on it. All of this is questions that we constantly should ask ourselves in order to keep our work and by extension our product relevant, but this can be difficult. To question accustomed working methods often face opposition from other stakeholders since change is difficult and might be experienced as unpleasant.
However, as testers we have a unique position within software development as we often are the first, and sometimes the only, people within the organization that see and experience the whole and complete product. We communicate with many different stakeholders and try to visualize what the end user will think of what we have built. We must therefore not lack the courage to make our voices heard and to bring suggestions for improvement.
My talk will focus on the importance of lifting one's gaze and looking at the whole picture of a project instead of getting swamped by unimportant details. I will be giving examples of when work processes themselves have gotten in the way of testing and quality assurance as well as offer examples of how to remedy these problems. As testers we are used to questioning and scrutinizing things, this is why we are very well suited for this role. All of this might seem like obvious things, but observations of working life points to the importance of raising this subject again and again. I have several times, in both the private as well as the public sector, observed how quick and easy to measure results are favored before long term thinking and a holistic view. Remember to pause what you are doing, take a step back and ask questions. The possibility to incorporate this holistic view is often bypassed.