How do you deal with conflicting product quality expectations?

I have noticed in the past years that there are multiple expectations of a product’s quality which can put a responsible test/quality engineer in a tough position.

An example:
Sales/Business wants to attract more clients, simplify the product, and focus on a few features that are done well and could greatly benefit the client.
Operations would like to simplify how they work, and have backend/middleware bugs/features changed/fixed; They look into supporting the existing clients; They also prefer to have tools, predefined scripts, and documents that are quickly available to help fix various problems.
Development want to have everything new, want to do cloud, want to experiment with libraries, want to keep up to date everything, want to solve tech debt, they want coverage with lots of automated checks(unit, API, integration, GUI, scripts, etc) to reduce potential impacts of their constant major changes.
Clients feel that they need features that are customized to their habits; they don’t always agree with the choices or usage of the existing features; they feel like they deserve immediate attention, and constant improvements of the platform;
Support want to be able to help clients and go as quickly as they can through hundreds of daily tickets; they’d prefer features available to cover what they are asked to do, product intuitiveness, quick interaction with other departments, and fast releases;
Upper management want to make good progress so they don’t lose money; they are interested in making promises, and relationships with the board or leaders of other companies; they expect to have a good product image, a clear set of advantages and features they can rely on when making deals; they will change priorities regularly; they will demand specific things quickly.
Mid/Lower management feel like they need to tackle many expectations; they need to bend the truth, promise lots of things, change their direction often, ask for stability, push for quicker development, ask for various things of the testers to fill in gaps; they have short, medium, long term goals in regards to the product and testing/quality/automation;
I have my own expectations of the others, of the product, of myself. I want to help, be of service/value and grow.
Other departments - in a more complex organization, there are even more layers to interact with (finance, accounting, treasury, external product reps, IT admin, cloud admin, etc, ISO quality management,…)

It is one of the things that has been tiring me mentally in the past couple of years. I’m looking for ideas on moving forward(still have at least 20 years to work in IT…)
How do others manage their 40-50 hours per week while being healthy, satisfied with their work, and growing?


I completely understand the complexity you’re dealing with. It’s a common challenge in our field. One approach is to foster open communication channels among the different departments, emphasizing collaboration, and setting realistic expectations.

Prioritizing tasks based on impact, utilizing automation strategically and regularly reassessing workflows can contribute to a more streamlined process.
Additionally, considering personal well-being, setting boundaries, and periodically reflecting on your career goals and achievements can help maintain a healthy work-life balance. Would love to hear about your specific experiences and any strategies you’ve found effective!

It looks to me like there is a lot of stuff there that falls under the category of “Not my monkeys, not my circus”

Its up to all of those disciplines to define the product - the what, the how. Your job is to ensure that how closely the product is meeting that definition is then communicated to everyone.

Of course no one person can measure the quality of each of those things. So dont let them “throw it to QA”. Make them responsible for their own QA by coaching them how to do QA activities. Then you focus on the activities where your expertise is creating the most value.

…or they can expand the QA resources…

This is the sort of thing Ive had to communicate a number of times. “I can do as much testing as I can and there will be a compression of the scope of testing. Or you can participate. or you can expand the QA resources.”

Are you thinking of the tester leading communication between those departments? The problem is not the direct communication between that dep and testing. The department goals can differ from the others or change and be in conflict with others.

This is where I’d have a tough decision. Impact for whom? the client, a manager, a department? Usually, you might get to comply with a direct manager. But then it can be hard to let go of something else.

That is important to keep in mind. Although it occupies but a brief moment of the day. We are stuck in work mode for close to 60 hours/week(actual work time, commute, thinking about it randomly through the day).

  • Consistently be there for people who matter and are invested in the product/business. This will give motivation and a feeling of achievement.
  • Friendships in the workplace with people thinking alike.
  • Going more Solo, against some people’s wishes, making allies with others and listening to an inner drive that says you’re doing the right thing.
  • Having a few leaders to rely on for whatever direction we choose to take (either of us). I lost this by changing the workplace.
  • Leaving the work at work and not even considering saying a word or thinking about it while not there. (isn’t that easy in a hybrid mode).
  • Occupying the mind while not at work with other stuff that matters personally. A bit tougher to do much in winter.
  • Ignore everyone for a while, any pressure and tension put on developers, managers and departments; focus on my own little thing. Others are mature enough to get out of trouble or fail and get back up. Also minds change, financial issues drive major changes, people change.
1 Like

I’m not strictly referring to direct interaction between testing and other departments. But generally how a company and business are driven by the power of influence that each department has over the direction, the projects, the focus, the value, resources, organization, and prioritization.
Sometimes it’s called politics, it is called heavy/inappropriate processes, tension/lack of cohesion between departments, bad management, huge technical debt, inability to support the company to growth, lack of resources, lack of middle management, wrong focus, etc…

I see an increasing demand from a tester who seems to be expanding to a quality manager who supports the quality of many separate things.

The easiest way to deal with this I’ve seen from most is to quit either the department, role, or company after a few years. The members of my team(development) changed 3 times in 3 years at some point.

Ahh. thanks for clarifying that for me. I misunderstood.

Yes I can see how that can pile up on QA management. Its difficult to transition from individual contributor to people manager and then to strategist. When I transitioned to leading a team, my company wisely invested in a week long seminar about how to make that transition. One of the things that stuck with me was the seminar leader noting that “people managers tend to be promoted from the ranks of people who get things done. But when you become a people manager, its no longer your job to get things done, but rather to enable your team to get things done.” which was counter-intuitive and and felt like “not doing work” because I was no longer doing what I had measured as “work”. But as I learned to prioritize keeping the cruft away from my team so they could focus on their work, the more got done.

I imagine there is a similar shift in moving to a strategic role. Maybe thats where the exhaustion and burn out occur?

Wow, I can relate to this, especially the mid/lower management part.

Today, I was asked to create a plan to improve quality within a scrum team and have metrics to measure progress and quality improvement. This is after I have already started to introduce new testing ideas.

I recognize I can do a better job. However, last thing I want is to introduce some metrics since it’s well-known once a metric is introduced, it is meaningless.

1 Like

You listen to all stakeholders and make a tradeoff. Knowing the customers is a big part of knowing the product.

I agree with that and it’s a big part of what a tester does.
And besides stakeholders, you have colleagues, leaders, and managers that rely either on you or your outcome as a team. They might sometimes want different things from you than what you think is appropriate. This requires reconciling.

How do you mentally deal with this in the long term? It can be tiring if you care(or overthink it). It can be easy if you don’t.
Do you have any experiences or behaviors to exercise that you could share?