How do you ensure testing priority?

In our roles as testers, our goal is (usually) to help the teamwork together to release a successful product. Part of that is ensuring that testing the software gets a certain level of priority.

How do you ensure that testing gets the priority it needs in your team?


I cannot ensure it, but I can try to create the right atmosphere for it.

It starts with me: I have to spread the vibe of “test positivity” and show what my work brings that is of value to the system (most important part of this system is not the software, but the people working to make the software).

The team: I try to create a good team atmosphere with regards to testing. I explain that I cannot do this alone because we will have better results if the whole team helps. I organise team testing sessions, pair testing sessions and praise people when they do good testing. I try to be open about how I test and I show what my exploratory testing uncovers.

Outside the team: This is usually the biggest challenge for me. I find that managers often have crazy expectation of what testing can do (assure quality, 100% complete, quick, easy, a phase, a checkmark on their Gantt chart, you name it). Getting stakeholders and other influencial figures outside the team to get what testing is about is tough. I try the same approach as with the team, but slightly different: shorter updates (I like the low-tech dashboard), being realistic and honest about risk, trying to explain the limitations of testing. I would appreciate insight from other people here about this area of testing.


The priority is often discussed with the team. Developers & PM’s will often sit together with testers to point of which new feature/fix needs more attention then another. Based on that we can set priorities.

That’s is the ideal world. I’ve been in teams like this but also I’ve been in a team where “everything” has priority which makes it really hard to focus. As Maaike mentions managers often have high expectations without letting the testers add story points on how long a testing cycle for a feature takes.

If you sit together with the PM and he keeps saying “test everything, do 100 hours of testing in 5 hours” then it’s no use … In that world I used to take a few steps back and sit back and ask developers what in their eyes is more prior or more important to test.


First of all, what @maaike.brinkhof says… :slight_smile:

I have really found Maaike’s first point to be absolutely crucial. So many times over the last year, I have needed to push that positivity from a test perspective and be the one that raises the subject of “hold on, what about testing?” or “we should think about the testability of this”, finding every opportunity to raise the awareness of good testing and help push it forward.

It’s paid off as now, I’m engaged at the beginning of all projects (although this means I’ve become a single point of failure and now need to build a team to push the work around to). So priority is important but i’d also say ensure you have the resources to cope with the demand shift when suddenly the priority is where you desire testing to be…

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Consider yourself a service. And if you bring value to your customer they will continue to use your service and if you cost more than you are worth then people will stop using you. Test is never necessary. It’s an optional service that you would employ to save money. Meaning that you need to help save more money than you cost.

So realization number one should be on the line of not everything is worth reporting. If it is not worth reporting it is probably not worth finding. So you should focus your efforts on finding what is important. Great so by now you typically employ some kind of risk based approach and know that the value of the information you produce matters a lot. To me here ends the line of the classical tester.

After this another little dilemma pops up. Hypothetically imagine that you work for a team, and they are so good at what they do so they do not produce any bugs that you find, or that gets found in production. What value can you possibly bring as a tester in such a team? And wouldn’t every company want all their software development team to be at that level? Inherently in the question of how do you ensure testing priority you kinda want your teams to make mistake so that you can provide value by finding and reporting them. There are a few talks and books on the topic of what is the future of testing and how is it ok for developers to deliver code that does not work as it should? To me the ideas from “pretotyping” and Lean Startup are very fascinating, because they allow you to employ similar skills as you use when testing after the fact, before the fact. I.e. to be proactive and help not making the mistakes instead of systematically make them and find them. I also have a few colleagues who work as Test Coaches instead of testers with a similar idea as I enable the team to make fewer mistakes (or at least less costly ones) rather than I test.

But again your goal is to be valuable, when you are your priority will be ensured.