The business value of testing

The business value of testing is directly correlated to testers’ ability to provide quality related information that either increase the chance of higher revenue or decrease the risk of higher costs for the company.

An important implication of this is that the higher revenue or lower cost must be greater than the cost related to the testing effort that provided the information in the first place. That can be a slightly uncomfortable insight for testers to make, but it’s an essential thing to keep in mind when we try to determine whether we should stop testing or not.

A more positive way to frame it is that we must continuously ask ourselves if there’s something more important that we could be doing at any given time, i.e. we must be aware of the opportunity cost of testing. Ask: Why am I testing? What kind of information am I looking for (a.k.a. information objective)? Is there potentially more valuable information to be found by modifying the way I’m testing or by testing some other aspect of the product?

From time to time we must also realize that our curiosity as testers will never be completely satisfied and we’ll more likely than not be forced to stop testing and ship the product before we’re comfortable with doing so. That feeling is of course a positive thing. It should feel a bit uncomfortable for testers to ship. If you’re completely comfortable with shipping the product then you’ve probably spent too much time testing in relation to the business value you’ve produced, or you just don’t care. Either way, I wouldn’t want to work with a tester who didn’t feel some sort of internal resistance when confronted by the PM calling “time’s up!”.

This is my first attempt to lower my personal bar for how long or thought through a blog post needs to be. It came about in a conversation about business value on the Swedish testing community’s Slack team http://testsverige.se/ and this blog post is essentially an exact copy what I wrote on Slack in that discussion. Anyway, I hope this has some value to somebody. My goal with this experiment is to get better at not preventing myself from publishing half-baked thoughts, which I regularly do (the preventing bit), which results in nothing getting published ever… A lot of you can probably relate to that feeling…? 🙂

4 Responses to The business value of testing

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