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When testers ask annoying questions

When testers ask annoying questions

We have a very good working relationship with testers in my company. We don't just build software and chuck it over the fence for testing. Testers are involved from the very start of the software development process. But sometimes they ask annoying questions. Let's explore what happens and how to deal with it...

A typical Agile project

If you're familiar with Agile, the next couple of paragraphs will only repeat what you already know. You can jump straight to the annoying questions.

We work in an Agile way, which means that a "project" is broken down into epics reflecting a single feature, and stories, which are the minimum piece of work that we can get feedback on. This allows us to deliver working software fast and get rapid feedback.

A typical story kickoff

Stories start with a kickoff session before development actually starts. The team gets together, the product owner (PO) knows what the company wants to deliver and he explains the requirements from the user's point of view. Usually, before he's done with the explanations, most of us developers already know exactly what we need to build and how to build it.

Annoying questions

But then the tester, who's taking part in the kickoff, will usually chime in and start asking annoying questions. Some of which are so obvious that may entice a huff from developers ("What browsers are supporting here?") And sometimes these questions seem to get in the way, because they are just delaying the time when we actually get to code.

But soon the questions start to go in another direction. "What kind of load are we expecting for the system?", "how many hits are we expecting per day?". And that's when an experienced developer realizes that that's a question he or she should have asked first.

I've grown to love these "annoying" questions because they take my mind off the track that I was going on and force me to reconsider the way in which I would implement a ticket.

Next time...

If you're not using Agile already, drop what you're doing and start adopting it. If your testers are not attending your story kickoff, start inviting them. If they are, and they're not asking annoying questions, invite them to do it. And next time your testers start asking annoying questions, remember: at the end of the day, these questions are contributing quality to your product. Now go and create some kickass software!