Sherlock Holmes – Senior QA Analyst!

Imagine an alternate universe where the diabolical mastermind, Moriarty, the arch-enemy of Sherlock Holmes, lives in the 21st century. And imagine that he is a software developer, he’s a superstar, but he’s also a careless programmer who ignores good practices and leaves countless bugs in his software.

Being an evil mastermind, his plan is to ruin customer experience, so Moriarty’s bugs are difficult to find. To locate Moriarty’s crimes against quality requires a mind of equal or greater genius.

Only the great sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, is brilliant enough to take on this challenge. But in this alternate universe, Moriarty is a programmer, not a criminal, so Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t be a detective, he would have to take on a different role…

Sherlock Holmes, Senior QA Analyst!

It doesn’t sound quite right does it?

Great testers commonly play the role of sleuth but they’re often treated like nagging spouses instead of brilliant detectives. That’s not the best way to motivate the people who ensure your software isn’t a crime against humanity.

What can you do about it?

Well, you could change the name of the QA department to SCSI. Software Crime Scene Investigation unit. Then get some cool black windbreakers with SCSI in big white letters on the back and special yellow tape to rope off the “crime scene” in the cubicle.

That would be awesome, but probably not possible for you to implement this week. Here are a few more practical suggestions to try if your costume and prop budget is a little low:

Give QA work equal billing with programming when you talk about how your application was completed. Staff meetings and company presentations are a good time to highlight the great work done by both your QA staff and your Developers.

Treat your top QA staff like detectives instead of janitors. Testing isn’t clean-up, it’s a noble battle against the forces of darkness. They may know more about your application then almost anyone in your organization. Give them respect and perks.

Bring QA into your Development process at the start of your project. It will help them to learn earlier and faster where your project is going and start improving things that much sooner. And having QA involved early will send a signal that this department isn’t just a nagging nuisance, they are skilled allies who help you make great software.

QA could get a lot more exciting when you start treating testers like Sherlock Holmes. Just be sure to steer clear of waterfalls.

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