Improving the relationship between Support and Test

(David) #1

As testers we discuss at length the relationship between us and developers, and how to improve it, but I have not heard much about the relationship between testers and technical Support (L3). Does anyone have any suggestions as to how best manage the expectations of technical support? Our Support team are often landed with time sensitive issues from fraught customers, the problems are often ill defined, and it is very difficult to separate a software issue (bug) from an environmental/configuration issue. In those situations the expectation is that Test should unravel the problem. To what extent should Testers be involved in these situations? Should testers be on hand just to gather and report bugs, and/or provided information that might go toward diagnosis, and/or should they be responsible for providing a solution? How hard, if at all, should testers push back? All concerned have struggled with this problem for quite a while now - any suggestions welcome!


(Alastair) #2

I’ve recently had a lot of good discussions with our support team. We’re not great at generating logs in production just now - making issues extremely difficult for support to debug. I know that our support team are technical so I demonstrated our logging tool to them which they now use. This allows them to provide the Engineering team which bug reports filled with a good amount of information.

In terms of should testers be involved in debugging customer issues - I don’t see why not. We know that this customer issue is going to come to our Engineering department eventually - so why not make sure that it’s definitely a bug in the software and not an environment issue before the bug lands on your doorstep? It obviously depends on what else you have going on and how high a priority it is - but in theory, I would always work closely with Support.

(Kim) #3

Hi David,

It’s an excellent line of discussion tech support and testers relationship. In the past I have worked as defect triage for production releases where I deal directly with tech support L1/2. There can be some difficulty sometimes trying to get further information about the issue especially if you are not able to contact the stakeholder who originally raised it.

I have never worked with any L3 tech support (production) developer as they were always the expert in the company and the go-to person for solving difficult production issues within that affected system. I have personally watched one developer code directly into live production after hours to keep it going (definitely not the norm but it was critical) and YES he is that good. I can’t imagine many testers would be able to offer any support to that level of developer but this is not to say it doesn’t happen. It’s just rare in my case.

(Alex Langshall) #4

Both support and test have the same end goal - giving the end user the best possible experience. So there’s a lot of different kinds of communication that can benefit both. We’ve done briefings with support on new releases as part of the QA team - letting them know what stories are going out, what has the highest risk, what types of issues we’ve seen while testing. Armed with that information, support is better able to categorize any incoming issues after a release, see patterns in the problems, and know which PM / QA persons to route problems to.

The other direction is often the communication with support about issues and helping to determine their severity. Support can tell me the impact of a bug that I’ve seen, and feedback from support can help me make a case for a bug being fixed sooner to a PM.