Communicating our value; it’s one of those simple things we often forget when we get bogged down in our day to day tasks and responsibilities. We often believe that if we are busy doing what we do everyone understands what we do, and more importantly, understands the value of what we do. This couldn’t be further from the truth in the real world of business.
Communicating what we do regularly to the right people is often very uncomfortable for people. It has a sense of being braggadocios. But if we don’t talk about the value of what we do, how will anyone understand the impact of our work on the success of a project? As test and quality professionals the value of what we do is hidden from view because if we do everything right the excitement of what we do is absolutely “nothing”. There is no true celebration that the software or application works, that is expected. There is no kudos for the quality team by the users; they praise the programmers and developers for creating such a cool product. And the upper management team continues to wonder why they have to pay for quality and testing if the product always comes to market or fruition relatively bug free.
The work of testing and quality is definitely highlighted in a crisis or catastrophic failure when a program crashes, security is breached, or some other high profile event occurs. Then and only then is quality and testing questioned about the reasons why a product failed. How often are you asked why a product released so successfully? Sound familiar? At our New York City Local Interest meeting a few attendees had discussed the changes they were able to accomplish for their testing and quality teams because of a high profile crisis. They were able to garner greater resources, additional time and technology, etc… But should we wait or depend on a crisis to communicate the value and need for what we do?
If we continually highlight the value and risk of the things we changed, rooted out, or eliminated throughout the testing and quality process, we slowly build an understanding of what we do for all, including upper management, regarding the critical role we play in the success of a project. We may want to highlight the failures of poor quality or insufficient testing that has made the news or you have heard about through other channels, but the bottom line is we don’t want to have to have a crisis to get what we need to produce quality products.
We should utilize all of our communication opportunities whether it is a conversation, reports, or meetings to support our requests for more time, more resources, or the technology needed, and not be dependent on a crisis to highlight our importance. As professionals it is incumbent on us to build our reputations and value. It should not be assumed that everyone understands or even knows what it is we do as a profession.
Successful software projects rarely highlight the value of what we do, and it hurts all of IT if a product or application gets launched and creates a crisis for the organization. The test and quality folks get hammered for the failure, but overall the reputation of all of IT is damaged. The business sees IT as a team and every team member has a critical role to play in building and protecting the reputation of IT products and services.
If we communicate often and successfully, the value of what we do as part of the process of quality and the function of testing will garner the respect it deserves. The decisions about where to reduce resources in IT will be made with a true understanding of the risks created by cutting quality and testing. Communicating value improves our future and standing within the organization. We know the value of what we do; let’s make sure everyone else does…
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