The dark side of SCRUM: Two more things not to say to testers

I had a new year’s resolution to be nice to people, but sadly it didn’t last quite as long as I wanted.

Some context: I’ve been working on a debit order system, where files with the banking details and so on for presumed payments are exported (to flat files) and sent to the bank, and files with audit information, unpaid transactions and redirects (update customer account details) are imported (from flat files) back into the payment system.

Although this team has three developers, I wrote all our code (why I alone did it is a little complicated to explain here). I finished it all last year before going on leave… That is, I fixed some bugs related to the end-to-end testing with the bank. This was our first week back, and this sprint ends tomorrow, but our testers still haven’t actually started testing. You’d think they would be upset that the FTP connection to the bank is down, but they neither noticed nor even know what FTP stands for. Instead they suggested I speak to the “configuration team” about issues with the payment system that we plug into.

Of course I took offense to the suggestion that I should do their job for them, when my main problem with them is that they are testers but are not actually testing, and there is no sense of urgency from them regarding doing their actual job. They produce endless documents like test scenarios and test approaches and test cases and God knows what else. (And I’m pretty sure there is no God.) We are all external contractors here, so this whole team can be fired. It happened to another team last year. Yet I get here between 6:30 and 6:45 each morning, and one of the two testers strolled in here at 9:08 this morning (even though we had a meeting scheduled for 9AM).

So I lost it, and suggested: (names changed to protect the guilty)

I think we need additional team members, since clearly Juicy’s role is to generate documentation, and Lucy’s is to shuffle tasks.

Naturally that didn’t go down well, and they suggested I be a tester for a day (which is obviously what I was inviting) and then I followed up with:

Sure, I can be a tester. Just give me a fucking lobotomy!

OK, so I didn’t achieve anything positive, but it felt so good.

But seriously, this is a problem, for which I can’t see a solution. Our testers have settled into a pattern, where each sprint, they plan a whole bunch of tasks around the “duties” they need to perform from a governance point of view. They over-estimate substantially, and their tasks are all about generating all sorts of documents, but their focus is never on actual testing. When they eventually do test, they do not properly understand what they should focus on, but log bugs for stupid trivialities, while the bulk of the code’s functionality remains inadequately tested, or not tested at all.

I really don’t see what to do about this. If I raise an alarm, it’s only going to blow up in my face. It seems to me that testers need to be developers. Though I like these two ladies as people, I have lost almost all confidence in them, and believe a couple of junior developers would be better suited to their responsibilities.

Update and plan of action: Us two remaining developers (our companion resigned last month) had a chat with our Scrum-master this morning, and we have a plan. It involves us getting more involved with the test execution. I almost got my wish… in that the other guy is a junior developer who thinks that, since he joined late and hasn’t written any of the code anyway, can do more of the testing, with me fixing the bugs. I’m not crazy about this idea because we are only going to do it due to the testers’ incompetence, but as long as the core functionality of the code gets properly tested, that’s what counts at the end of the day.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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