What is the role of a tester? That’s a question I’ve pondered about several times, are we supposed to just break things? to spot fallacies? to think negatively?

Tester Role

To begin with, let’s go over the definition of role. According to Merriam-Webster, a role is defined as follows:

  1. The character played by an actor.
  2. A part that someone or something has in a particular activity or situation.
  3. The part that someone has in a family, society, or other group.

Just reading them through, I can tell why we play a role. Firstly, we are part of something, either it is an organisation, a team, a project. Secondly, we are one of the actors which make up a team. Thirdly, and this is where we want to get, we play a role within the context of a project.

However, from my point of view, apart from a role, I see it as though it were a relationship as well. Yes, we are part of something within the context of a project. Yes, we do bring value onto a team with our work. But, ultimately, we are connected with more people (a.k.a. actors) with whom we strive to meet expectations, and deliver a solution.

We cannot control our role, but we can, and we have to negotiate it.

Let’s be blunt, we must be clear about our role, about the expectations related to it. Knowing what is expected from us in our role, not only will it help us define a strategy to meet expectations, but also, to exceed them.

Many a times have I been in a position in which that was not clear, and as it commonly happens, people tends to expect things from us which might be not so reasonable.

Nowadays, from my perspective, I as a tester need to work in the team as if I were a guide, because, you see, I do not see my work as only writing and running test cases, reporting defects, improvements, so on and so forth.

It is true, those are part of what we do, it’s still a part of our role, and the mission/objective that a testing team may have is bound to vary from organisation to organisation. Nonetheless, there is this one common factor in all of them, information.

To sum up, I see that the value we add to a team it’s finding, collecting and providing as much information as possible. Afterwards, the rest of the team can use it to make informed and critical decisions either on a product, or a project, based upon those pieces of information.