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A Bunch Of Random Dudes Get Called Testers. What Happens Next Is Unreal.

A Bunch Of Random Dudes Get Called Testers. What Happens Next Is Unreal.

Being A Tester Is A Profession…

Those of us in the profession who embrace it with passion sometimes see it as a calling and when we read certain stories we feel their pain but are often unsurprised.

Never Was A Tale Of More Woe

Techcrunch and other blogs have recently reported on two high profile Startups, Clinkle (over the last few days) and Snapchat (the end of December) suffering hacks / data breaches of differing scales.

A Venture Capitalist I follow on Twitter postulated that these events call into question the skill level of the Startup Devs, allowing user or payment data to be compromised.

The Usual Suspects

Usual Suspects - Tester

In both of these cases I found it hard to point the finger (exclusively) at the Devs and suspected that either: –

  1. The Startups had no testers and didn’t test.
  2. The Startups employed non-testers to do the testing: all hands on deck.
  3. The Startups had testers who reported the bugs but their reports went unheeded.

Testing? We’re Not There Just Yet.

Many startups are known for considering testing an activity that is best left until late in the day. Something the company just doesn’t have the money for but will get to, one of these days.

Money tester dudes

After looking at the LinkedIn profiles of Clinkle and Snapchat I couldn’t find any employees listed in either company as testers. The Techcrunch article on Clinkle refers to “employee testers” clearly they went for option 2 above; calling a bunch of random dudes in their employ testers without knowing what testing actually is.

The Warptest POV

I asked the question “How do you respond when a company says they aren’t ready for testing yet?” to my peers in the Israel QA / Software Testing Forum Facebook Group. The discussion is mainly in Hebrew but some people felt this was a reality to be accepted, others felt this was unacceptable and it was a fascinating insight.

My opinion is that if your product relies on the trust of the people exposed to it to build your user base then it is never too soon for testing but I’ll return to this premise.

The idea that Startup Devs are lacking if they allow these breaches fails to address one important fact: Devs are not Testers. They aren’t trained to be and in fact, they are trained to work with testers who provide backup / cover. In a nutshell, the testers are there to find bugs, report them and ensure the bug is dealt with.

The moment the founders remove these checks and balances then the whole product lifecycle is out of kilter and it is only reasonable to expect a major bug to slip through.

Remember, if you treat testing as a second class activity then don’t be surprised if you create a second class product.

Returning to my premise that it’s never too soon to test, does this mean Startups need to magically find the money to employ a full-time tester or testing team? If you are iterating a web / mobile application then contracting either an early stage, one shot testing cycle or testing on demand until you raise further funding is an affordable option. The testing will either be done for you or your non-testers can be guided and managed to provide better testing coverage.

If you need testing for your app then contact me and I can help you ensure your product doesn’t launch untested or reach critical bug mass.

 
Comments

Thanks for another interesting article – Jonathan,
In addition I would consider the additional issues which could have lead to that situation for instance:
Inadequate system requirements – and thus both developers and testing focus for these issues.
Some issues are best left to security professionals to handle – and as you mentioned – one can assist with external experts.
@halperinko – Kobi Halperin

All true Kobi but I think even if you aren’t a security expert there are basic and standard test cases that are common to all apps that any professional tester will test. Beyond that you definitely need to call in specialist help of course. Thanks.

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