Startups and software quality

I have worked in various software roles for more than a dozen years. In all these years, I had come to believe that software testing had to be one of the most thankless jobs in the world (until I became a stay-at-home mom for a short while) All that work and barely any recognition!

With the influx of startups where each team member usually dons many hats, hiring a tester doesn’t usually seem important. When resources are limited , what would be the point of hiring one extra person to just check the app?

Do startups need software testing?

You are fiddling with your phone and come across a cool app. On installing, you realise that the app doesn't work as expected or just doesn't work at all. What are the chances that you will look at the app ever again? Fixing a problem only after consumers have already noticed it will cost a company, not just money but also reputation.

It is an impatient world! For a startup to survive in these times, it is important to deliver at a fast pace. But it is also important to have a high quality product.

Developers are usually too immersed in their own code and it is very likely that they will miss an issue. Having a neutral pair of eyes look at the code will help find issues that the developer might miss and also push the app to it's limits. Let's not forget developers already have their hands full.

How does one maintain high quality with quick delivery times?

Some might say test automation. I say, automation is not always the answer. Automation makes life easier, speeds things up, but it also takes planning and time - which is usually tight. Complete automation makes sense when things aren’t changing at a fast pace.

When the timelines are tight and change is constant, it is important to know how much to automate and what to test. The tester needs to have a plan in place. Also, a very good understanding of the product and a great rapport with the developers is very important. The team should be able to work out what is important and what should be focussed on. Again, it depends on the kind of team one is working in.

I feel lucky to belong a team where I, as a tester, have this kind of rapport with the developers. To be able to walk over to a developer to make them aware of an issue in the code, and not have them take offence is refreshing. Here at BCaster, we really are a ‘development team’. Every member of the team is focussed on quality. Our Operations Executive could actually make an amazing tester :).

It feels good to be part of a startup that understands the importance of investing in quality early on. As Aristotle once said "Quality is not an act, it is a habit."