A week ago one of the testers working for me sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. After having accepted the invitation I had a look on the testers profile. I had an immediate reaction of horror when I saw the title the tester had come up with for the position followed by the name of our company; “Quality Assurance Tester at Made up Company”.
Oh no! I thought to myself. Now people will think we work in Quality Assurance. This is NOT a domain I want to be related to!
I immediately contacted the tester through IM:
Me: It’s great that you are testing Quality Assurance. It needs to be questioned. 🙂
Tester: Not sure what you mean…
Me: I’m referring to your title on LinkedIn
Tester: Yeah, that’s what I thought, but is it a good thing or not…?
Me: Well we don’t do Quality Assurance even though that is the name of our team. There is an old story behind that name. You are a software tester, and that is something you can be proud of. I’ll tell you the story later.
Tester: Ok, I understand. I’ll change my profile.
I am still a bit concerned that the tester did not really understand why…but that is another story.
The story behind the name
Before I started working with this compan the developers did testing by putting on their testing hat every third month to do “testing” for two weeks. As a tester I continued doing testing. Our users were also doing testing and so were our business analysts. Testing as a word became very misused and was used for simple exploring and demonstrations and for checking. The word was used for various activities which I did not consider SW testing and the meaning of the word got sort of worn out. I wanted the word testing to be associated with a craftsmanship and not something anyone could do (Henrik Andersson wrote a great article on a similar topic: Don’t hustle my flag).
Even though we as testers made a difference it was difficult to gain credibility for what we did just due to the word testing. Before we showed up, testing was already something developers were doing. Testing was seen as something everyone could do and by wearing out the word/name it didn’t really have the meaning I wanted it to have.
So I decided to change our name to Software Quality Assurance from the most weird name ITS (which I have no memory of what it stands for) to make it sound more fancy to others. The name to me was not really important as long as my testers and I were left to do what we are good at, software testing. If you give something a fancy name, what others think is a fancy name, they might also think we did something that differed from what had been done before. I made the assumption that Software Quality Assurance was perceived as more serious than Software Testing by our stakeholders.
Back to reclaiming the software testing flag
For quite some time I’ve been wanting to change the name of our department since Software Testing has been established as well as the profession SW tester. I want us to be proud of what we do and that should be shown in the name of our team/department. But it took me more than a year from when I thought it was time to change the name until I actually did it.
Last Friday I had the opportunity to meet up with Michael Bolton, Henrik Andersson and Lars for a beer or two or three and some great discussions. Somewhere in between beer one and two I mentioned the episode with the tester and the title in LinkedIn. Michael immediately questioned my choice of name. I told the story and he said something like:
“If you name it Software Quality Assurance that is what people think you do!” It was then so obvious to me, of course this is what people think we do especially people not knowing me or my testers or how we actually do software testing.
I realize that naming the team as I did was a bad move. I should not have hidden behind a “fancy name”. I should have worked more in proving our credibility and showing why our testing is different from a demo or checking by users or developers. I’ve actually assumed that people understand what we are doing as software testers and that is something I need to get better at explaining no matter what the name of what we are doing is.
On Monday morning when I came back to work I cleared out all administrative obstacles for changing the name of the department. Our department/team name is now Software Testing Team.
I have finally reclaimed the software testing flag!