Watchdog or Service Dog?

Are you a watchdog?  I’m speaking to testers here. Are you a watchdog? Is it your job to keep a close eye on the code and product and make sure no bugs come through? What do you do when you see a bug? Do you start barking up a storm and waking everyone up? BUG, BUG, BUG. We need to fix it!  No bugs shall pass!

Or, are you a service dog? You watch out for pitfalls, and you help others navigate them.  You don’t just alert others to the presence of a bug, you help them figure out how to fix it and how to avoid it.  Do you do something about the problems you find that goes beyond just telling people about it?

I’ve called you a dog for long enough, so let’s step out of that analogy for a minute. What I’m getting at here is to have us step back and think for a minute about what a tester does. I’m asking a lot of questions in this article, and not really answering them because I want you to think about it.  Do we just provide information and raise the alarm when things go wrong? Or, can we do more? Are we willing to fix mistakes or is it only our job to report them?

Are you a watchdog, or do you provide more services than just a loud bark and the ability to spot problems? If you only think of yourself as providing information about when things have gone wrong, it will affect they way you work. How important is it to file bugs that you find for example? Are there other ways to deal with them? What do you spend your time on as a tester? These and many other questions have different answers if you think about who you are and what your role involves.  So how do you define yourself?

Are you a watchdog, or do you provide other services as well?


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