Skills I Miss Working Without Testers

For the past two years I am the Product Owner in teams that don’t have a dedicated tester. Within the team, we discuss in depth the implications of anything new we plan to develop and test before releasing a feature. Everyone has the best interest of our end users in mind and we all strive to deliver quality work to them.

And even though everything is working fine there are still some skills that testers bring to the day-to-day work that make things even better. Here are some that I miss having around.

Risk evaluation skills

Good testers know what to test and more importantly what not to test based on the identified risks. If as a PO I communicate that the upcoming feature is an idea that we want to try out, testers can identify fast if we have enough tests in place to deliver a decent user experience but not too many to stall implementation. As functionality matures, they can pinpoint where we need good feedback from automated tests and which areas to manually explore for future improvements. Adapting the team’s test strategy based on up-to-date risks can be a real game changer for the speed and quality of delivery.

Pattern matching skills

There is no scientific proof that I know of, but testers are good at finding patterns. Trying to reproduce the conditions that lead to a bug might have something to do with it. This can come in handy, for example when analysing customer support issues. Rather than focusing on singular bugs, grouping them in categories helps identifying entire areas of improvement having a big effect on the quality of the product.

Systems thinking skills

I won’t lie that through my testing years I felt great joy finding a big, juicy bug. But since the developers I was working with were very quality oriented to find something always required “thinking big” and “out of the box”. This ability of keeping in mind the “big picture” is very useful when you look at how your team’s product interacts with other parts of the system. You can find duplicate work ranging from code, tests or even emails informing us about the same thing. Or work that serves no one but still needs to be maintained as there was never a conscious decision to remove it.

As most skills, I am not saying that only testers have them or that they are the only ones excelling in them. But in my experience, testers enjoy exercising them and when given the space to use them they can improve the quality of the work of the team and of the quality of the product.

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