Testers, what business are you in?


Recently I read an inspirational story from Jesse Lyn Stoner’s excellent blog  I would like to share with you.

The owner of a window shades company, was asked by a business consultant “What business are you in?” He initially answered “We are in the window shade business”. Then he was asked “When someone walks into your store, why do they want a window shade? What are you really selling?” he had to pause and think before he saw it

“We’re in the light-control and privacy business! – not the window shade business.”

The implications of this discovery were that by understanding the company real purpose, he was able to introduce new products that his customers loved.

You can find the full story (here)

Reading this story reminds me of the struggle of the testing community to get buy in from business owners. Years and years of hearing complaints that business owners don’t understand the importance of testing, they don’t appreciate the hard work of testers, I have grown tired of it.

I believe it’s not the business owners not to understand testers, I believe it is testers not understanding the business they are in.

The majority of the testers I know believe that they are either in

“The business of finding bugs”


“The business of sourcing information to help make decisions”

The testers I want to work with are in “the business of delighting their customers”, that is what we all need to be in.

If we make our business “delighting our customers” believe me, we will find a lot of innovative ways to do it as testers.

Forget about defects, forget about information, focus on delighting your customers and

  1. you will find innovative ideas to improve the quality of your product
  2. the business owners will love your work – and most of all
  3. you will have a lot of fun in the process!




4 thoughts on “Testers, what business are you in?

  1. Nice post Gus! I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I asked some testers to provide me with the deliverables of their testing and they kept listing actions and activities relating to their scope of testing, but struggled listing deliverables.

    when I spoke to them further, they started listing things like “test reports”, “bug logs”, “status updates”, etc. But when I pushed them on what the purpose was of these things, and what the customer gained from them, they finally reached the point of saying that the customer obtains that “warm fuzzy feeling of happiness and safety knowing that their products have been thoroughly investigated”

    The sooner we get to this thinking, the easier our lives will be if we change our communication about testing to be aligned with that, be it talking about testing down the pub, or as part of a formal testing document which shows our discoveries.

    Plus, like you said – it does become more fun! 😀

    • Thanks for your feedback Dan, much appreciated. If testers are in the business of delighting their customers, they might even reset their thinking and re-evaluate if bugs, test cases, reports and status updates are really necessary to fulfil their purpose, the possibilities are endless!

  2. I don’t know about you, but I don’t give a dime about the customers delight. I work for my employer.
    My business is risk reduction. My business is costs reduction. My business is creating software.

    Sure, the software I help to create has it’s own business (the business of my employer), and delighting the customers is part of it, so I will take the customer reaction (assumed or real) into account when minding my own business. However, I will do stuff that have nothing to do with customer delight such as support a process to cut the data center price by half or find different ways to communicate with my stakeholders to make sure they know (a bit more about) the risks they are taking when releasing the software. I will strive to have my product as clean and maintainable as I can because this way I will be able to satisfy my stakeholders by releasing faster with less risk. The impact of this faster release on the customers is a nice side effect, but not my primary goal. My primary goal is to support my employer’s primary goal, which is making money. Customer satisfaction is a mean towards this end, and most of the times it is also mandatory to have if that goal (=making money) is to be met.
    Certainly, knowing that the customer is happier because of my work does make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but me being warm and fuzzy is not my business.

    And one other thing – Since my business is “testing” and is not “working on the product I’m currently working in”, I also invest in interacting with the testing community around me, so that I will have the option to find my next job: I become better at what I do (which also helps the customer), and I also try to have some impact on others in the testing world (which does not affect any of my customers, but promotes *my business* by creating a reputation and a network I will be able to build upon later).

    • Thanks a million for your feedback always-fearful, really appreciated.
      We might have to agree to disagree here, life is beautiful because we are different and sometimes contribute to each other lives in unexpected ways. For example you have helped me look at the problem from your perspective, thank you!

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