STARWEST 2008: What Price Truth? When a Tester is Asked to Lie

Fiona Charles, Quality Intelligence Inc.

As testers and test managers, our job is to tell the truth about the current state of the software on our projects. Unfortunately, in the high-stakes business of software development, often there is pressure--subtle or overt-to distort our messages. When projects are late or product reliability is poor, managers' and developers' reputations-and perhaps even their jobs-may be on the line. Fiona Charles discusses the importance to testers of refusing to compromise the truth, recognizing a potential cover-up before it occurs, knowing the legal position around securing project information, and developing a strategy to maintain integrity and still get out alive. She examines the early warning signs and discusses the practical tactics available to testers, including signaling your unwillingness to lie, getting accurate and detailed reports of project progress and status on the record, keeping notes of disturbing conversations and events, and choosing whether to "blow the whistle" (and if so, to whom), leave the organization-or both.

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