How Can We Help Testers Feel More Valued?


(Heather) #1

I’ve had discussions recently with a few testers who work for different companies in a form of consultancy role i.e. their company gets contracted out to other companies to develop products for them or aid them in the development of products. I’m hearing similar stories from all of them about how their company doesn’t value testers. They value the idea of testing but not when it comes to pay/pricing.

One of these testers have agreed for me to share this post so long as they and their companies remained anonymous.

Mid last year I was hired as head of test with the view of revitalising the test team as the head of tech and ceo felt that the test team feels like second class citizens whereas the company thinks it values testing but does not know how to show this to the test team members.

They hoped to bring in a test lead or head of test would help as I could be the voice of testing and be more visible to the decision makers and fight the testers’ corner.

Since then I saw that when we price work the lowest rate is attributed to the tester on the team. Design and dev are in the same cost bracket. Then it’s PM and then it’s test.

I reckon this reflects the actual salaries too but it makes me wonder if the feeling of being he lowest valued team members is already created by sales pricing testing the lowest.

If it was priced the same as design and development regardless of actual cost being lower wouldn’t it make people feel more valued already?

What advice can you offer these testers?


(Sandeep) #2

@heather_reid…I am in Testing for 11 years played different roles from junior to Test Manager. Luckily never felt this. Testers should understand that they are crucial part of Continuous delivery pipeline in nowadays CI/CD world. I advise testers to excel their skills in both technical and functional domains. In agile world, though testers are called developers, part of scrum teams but they are expected to have expertise in automation/performance areas. And when you have expertise in desired skills then you are given more respect than developers, just testers have to step out of their comfort zone in self-organised agile teams. All the best!!
If anyone need any help, I am happy to mentor anyone, feel free to contact me. Lets keep rocking Technology world :slight_smile:


(Heather) #3

What if I told you that the testers I spoke to were already skilled in automation, performance and security testing?

You might be interested in sharing that on this post Looking for a mentor?


(Kim) #4

This is a difficult one for sure and I wish I had better advice. @heather_reid does the head company reside outside of the UK, US & Aus/NZ?

I had the privilege of working very closely with the team that was brought from the off-shore company into an Aussie company. I learned a lot about their business structure and ended up sharing my house with a member of that team. I was able to have conversations that you can really only have in a safe space and I have to say what she told me disturbed me on some levels. Why? It was what was expected of her as an employee and how she/the team was valued by the company. It sounded very similar to what the tester described above.

All I can say is it starts from the top down in any organisation. If top management express to middle management how much they value testing resource and expect middle management to have the same ideals then it will trickle down. Unfortunately I have seen top management impressed with something but middle management becomes a blocker to that transference of support.

I really hope things get better for them all. Good luck fellow testers


(Sandeep) #5

If testers are already expertise in their skills and have no issues with their performance,then there is some serious issue with product owner/scrum master/delivery manager’s attitude which needs immediate attention and had to be addressed to improve team morale and save team from poor performance and organisation from project failure.


(ernie) #6

A complete guess, but I’m guessing cause and effect are flipped here - testing has the lowest pricing due to a culture where test has the lowest value.

Only slightly. Even ignoring that I think the low price is a symptom and not the cause, I think in most Western societies, salary ties closely to value (at least with regards to the workplace, and often extending beyond).

More specifically, if an employer is paying testers a fraction of what they’re paying developers, then I think that pretty clearly shows they value the dev over the tester.

As for the testers feeling like second class citizens, it seems like rather than guessing at what might help, just asking them why they feel this way would be of high value. Maybe it’s not comp related at all? Maybe it’s the way they’re integrated (or not) into the agile teams? Maybe they feel that no one listens to them when they enter issues? They work longer hours for little recognition? There’s lots of possible reasons for why someone might feel disenfranchised . . .


(Kate) #7

That’s exactly the problem. In my experience if the tester(s) are paid less than everyone else in the team, it usually means that the organization itself does not value the testers. If the company says it values testers but the testers see:

  • Less money for equivalent skill levels
  • Always being the last team to get needed resources
  • Tester concerns are dismissed, other team concerns are not
  • Testers are constantly trapped between late code delivery and immovable deadlines

They will come to the conclusion that the organization is merely paying lip service to the notion of valuing testers, whether this is an internal or contracted team.

The short version? Always look at what is actually rewarded. That will tell you what is really valued at that organization - and it is something that is not likely to change without concerted efforts from the C-level management.


(Tracy) #8

Absolutely agree! if the mgt supports the testers by supporting their needs (for example, if the testers are not being warned when the test environment needs to be bounced, or if their requests for support aren’t being responded to in a timely manner, then the mgt needs to say “hey team, it’s important to work with the testers, step up.”)

And if the company hands out “performance awards”, testers need to be recognized too, not just hotshot sales staff or customer support. (Gosh, you don’t suppose that I’ve seen that happen or anything…)


(Kim) #9

I think we may of worked with the same company in a previous life lol, but if you would really like a bit of a giggle I was once part of those hot shot sales team and then later support staff from the business. I had awards, prizes including money given to me as well as advertising my success within this large enterprise company. Then I moved to tech where I actually worked harder on more important things and was instrumental with a team bringing to life an amazing product. Recognition … heck no it was always the marketing/sales/anyone else team. Funny to have experienced both sides of the coin :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


(Tracy) #10

I have a boss right now who takes the time to point out when we implement something that’s “a big win for the organization,” and I certainly appreciate that, especially from my previous experience where we were called “a big bottleneck for the organization.”
:roll_eyes:


(Darrell) #13

One thing jumps out at me right away. They saw that testers are priced at the lowest rate on the team and they ASSUME this is also reflective of salaries in their company.

As a consultant, I work on projects and our sales team finds the client. When we are pitching a job, there will be a statement of who is needed on the team and how much they will get paid. The QA or testing position is usually the lowest paid position.

However, I know I’m paid a lot more than many developers. A junior developer might be making half my salary but the contract will say they ‘worth’ 1.4 times me.

When we staff a project we know what is needed to be successful and deliver. The people negotiating the contract aren’t looking at the details of who is on the team and how much they are getting paid. They are looking at who we wait on the project, how much do we make then create a bunch of roles and rates that work out to more than our combined salaries/costs. Bottom line, if it costs us $150,000/week to staff the project and we can get the client to pay us $175,000/week then it does not matter if the developer is overpaid and I’m underpaid (these are totally fictitious numbers). Getting the contract is more important to the contract negotiators than convincing the client that testers are more valuable.

In many cases, the client has testers (out-sourced or in-house) and they aren’t valued. I’ve met a number of testers who are just hands on keyboard and not very good at their job. If this is what a client things all testers are like, we’re not going to try to change their mind during contract negotiations. After I join and prove myself on the project THEN we can start talking to the client about why testers at my company are actually worth more.

Bottom line, whether your company values you and whether they are willing to convince a client you should be valued are two different things.

That said, it is easier said than done but some open and honest communications is needed. Why do the testers think they are second class citizens? If you are REALLY communicating with your company then you aren’t going to trust them. It is up to them to win your trust. But it is hard for them if you aren’t talking with them.

Does the company know you noticed they are under-valued during contract negotiation? Do you want them to value you? Or do you want them to make clients value you? One is a lot harder than the other. They have a business they need to keep running.

For me, my company makes me feel valued. At first, no client values me. In some cases, they never value me. My company knows me. I want them to value me and they do. Not all our clients value me but they value successful projects. I know I helped make the project successful even if the client does not. So knowing my company values me is all I really need.

By the way, we do regular 360 feedback with everyone on the project, we do health checks on the project (with the HR team), we have someone in HR and an office manager we can talk to if we need, we have a team of people, on each contract, making sure the team’s needs are being met. Most importantly, we talk honestly to one another.


(Kim) #14

This is a good point around “value to the client” as in outwards vs the value inside the company.
Something to ponder. We are in a similar situation where sometimes I get very confused around the pricing, especially as I know my cost as a more senior member is much higher in the books than a junior is but we get costed at the same price.

Communication is really important and having those non related roles such as HR and office management being able to facilitate them makes sense.

Have you got experience with 360 reviews where it is such a small team it almost feels people are picking on each other or is that a culture thing that needs to be addressed?