Friday, February 06, 2015

How Important is Credibility to Software Testers?

I have incorporated the importance of credibility in all my software testing training courses. Why? Because if people don't trust you as a person, they won't trust the information you provide. As testers, the end result of everything we do is information. That information must be timely, correct, and objective.

When teaching the importance of credibility, I always say "Just look at the current events to see how people have lost or gained credibility. You will find examples everywhere."

The issue of credibility came to mind in recent days as I have been watching the response unfold to the new revelation that Brian Williams admitted to incorrect reporting of an incident that occurred while embedded with troops in Iraq. Some might say Williams' account was mere embellishment of the event. Others, however, take a much stronger view and call it an outright lie. Williams has acknowledged the inaccuracy and issued an apology, which is always a good start to rebuild credibility.

In the case of Williams, the stakes are high since he is a well-respected news presenter on a major television network. This is also a good example of how credibility can rub-off on the entire team. Williams' story many well cause many to stop watching the entire network for news reporting. People may ask, "How many other reporters embellish or hide the truth?"

Now other reports from Williams, such as those from  Hurricane Katrina, have been called into question with reliable information from those who were there. Williams reported seeing a dead body floating face-down from his hotel in the French Quarter. The New Orleans Advocate states, "But the French Quarter, the original high ground of New Orleans, was not impacted by the floodwaters that overwhelmed the vast majority of the city."

I have a feeling this story will take on a life of its own. Now, there are accounts from the pilot of the helicopter saying they did take on fire, just not RPG fire. That may help clarify things, but it adds confusion to the issue which doesn't help rebuild credibility.

As a software tester, you may be tempted to overstate how many problems you have seen in a system or application, just to get people to pay attention to the fact there are problems. Don't succumb to that temptation. Instead, just show a really good example of a serious problem. If there are other similar issues, say so. As a tester, you can only report what you have seen. You can't predict what other problems may exist, even though you might be right.

In telling your testing story, the accurate, complete truth is all you need.

If you would like to read my three-part article series on How to Build, Destroy and Rebuild credibility, here are the links:

Building Your Credibility as a Tester

How to Destroy Your Credibility as a Tester

How to Rebuild Your Credibility as a Tester

I hope all this gives us all something to remember as a we report what we see in testing!

I would love to hear your comments, questions and experiences.

And...I would like to wish my son, Ryan Rice, a happy 34th birthday today!

Have a great weekend,



Tante Waileka said...

First of all, happy birthday to your son! A good age to be for a young man. :)
Now, Brian Williams.... he's not a 'reporter' after all, he's only a member of the 'star' media. At least, I do not think of him as a 'reporter', just another "Ron Burgundy' wannabee. :)
But forget that. For software testers credibility is very important. The stakeholders and end-users of products under test rely on the testing results and analysis of the correctness / robustness of the 'go live' product. As testers, if we report a product 'fit for release' and then after installation into production it breaks or causes serious defects, we lose our reputation for credibility -- immediately. Once lost, it can take forever to regain the trust of our customers. A good article, Randy, 'as expected'. If this article does nothing more than generate discourse amongst testers AND stakeholders, it's served its purpose. I'm sharing it with my social media connections. :)

Randy Rice said...

Thanks, Violet. You make a good point about testers being the voice of the customer. I have observed many situations where the testers advised against releasing but were over-ridden by management. In the VAST majority of cases, the testers were right and the results were unhappy customers, lots of support calls, panic mode at the company, and testers asking, "Why are we here, anyway?" Unfortunately, the customers may never realize the testers' recommendations. Great points for sure. Thanks!

Randy Rice said...

Oh, and thanks for the birthday wishes for my son. He took his family to Dallas yesterday and today. They had a great time enjoying all the cool things we don't have in OKC!

Raymond said...

Credibility is most definitely a sticking point, seeing the ubiquity of computer technology and more people gaining more access to it. The demand for those products is increasing day by day, and will never stop doing so. That's why software security will definitely be more crucial in these times. Anyway, thanks for sharing that! All the best!

Matt Wynan @ IDTUS