Is Quality conversation possible between a Developer and a Tester?

Few years back, I was conducting a workshop for a group of developers and testers on how to effectively work as a team. The first thing I noticed after everyone had taken their seats was that developers and testers were sitting as separate groups. Even though there were seats available within the development group and testing group, a newcomer to the workshop will inadvertently sit with his or her group.

This more or less describes the silo nature of development and test team in a typical organisation. While DevOps model is somewhat breaking down this separation, it is still widely evident in organisations.

You could be sitting two desks away from the other person. But instead of walking over and talking to that person, we tend to get into the habit of sending emails (maybe because some feel comfortable with this approach, some may want to keep an audit trail etc.) instead of talking.

The typical issues I have had to face as a Test Manager are:

  • Dispute between developer and tester whether this is indeed a defect or not
  • Ping pong email correspondence between developer and tester regarding closure of a fix
  • Developers wasting time on analysing defects raised in error
  • Testers getting annoyed at being asked to prove that a defect is genuine
  • Too much reliance on email correspondence due to clash of egos
  •  Disconnect between developer and tester regarding the scope of the work and impact of any particular fix; situation deteriorates until escalated to Managers

You know how everyone says that picture tells a thousand stories? Well the below images were some of the typical examples of “communication” that took place between a developer and tester in some of my previous organisations.





When the above points (aptly demonstrated by the images) were posed to the workshop participants, the overwhelming response was that these issues can be addressed quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction if dealt with face to face, instead of relying on email correspondence.

Recommendations proposed by the participants were:

  • Instead of sending email, just walk up to that person and discuss in detail
  • If the person is busy with a different task and can’t attend to your needs, please propose a mutually acceptable time when he/she can come over and discuss the matter
  • Think how you would like to be treated and offer the same professional attitude/courtesy to the person from the other group.

It becomes apparent from above discussion that quality conversation is the one key element that can break down the silo nature across groups.

And promoting that idea within the teams is the responsibility of the Development Manager and the Test Manager.

Remember, a team is as good as its Captain. Team takes its cues from the leader/Manager. So if the dynamics between the Managers are great, it reflects on the relationship between the teams.


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