We receive a lot of trouble tickets written against out application suite. When we develop a fix, we write and execute unit test procedures. This step alone forces the developer to do more unit testing than normal. It also helps that we have a peer review process which reviews the unit test documentation. However you should also have independent testing.
Luckily our project has a whole team dedicated to doing internal testing. This team reports to a different management than the developers so there is no conflict of interest. The team is tasked with conducting independent tests of any software changes we perform. Since this is an internal team, they do their work before any software changes are released to the customer. They hold the veto authority to hold back any software delivery due to problem developed in test.
This independent testing creates the most value when it is truly independent. That is, the testers read the trouble tickets and independently duplicate the problems documented. Then they can take our fix and make sure it corrects the problem and does not break anything else. When the testers have to rely on developers to explain what changes they made, and how they unit tested the code, the testing sometimes degrades to a repeat of a unit test. Normally a repeated unit test is a waste of resources.
They say that the earlier you detect a bug, the cheaper it is to fix. When our independent testing team discovers a bug before we ship software, all kinds of problems are averted. We as a team look better. And in the end we have to deal with less reworked problems. The overall trouble ticket count opened by the customer decreases too. In this age of cost cutting, our customer has been asking tough questions about where we could trim costs in the project. One of the areas they question is our independent testing team. The only result of eliminating this team, in my opinion, would be a lot of pain. Software development is tough enough without extra grief. Here's to your impact on the bottom line, test team.
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