In my experience, selling testing is a lot harder than testing. Despite being Irish, “the gift of the gab” eludes me, often leaving me tongue tied and twisted when selling my wares.
Its one of the reasons I have got myself a business mentor. His main focus has been for me to understand my ‘product’ and my customers. He’s arguing at the moment, that the word ‘testing’ is not sufficient to draw in my customer base. The reason being, is my customers work in a different paradigm and use different language and so fully fail to comprehend the benefits that testing can provide.
We know as testers that testing can have massive benefits right across the company, and that the information and insight (thanks Joe) we provide is useful beyond the IT development lifecycle. For example, we know that marketing can benefit from data resulting from performance testing, that legal teams can benefit from any compliance testing we perform.
There is a bit of a trend recently to describe our work in clear terms such as testing and bugs. Where before we perhaps worked in QA, we our now testers. We have ceased to use language such as gatekeepers and milestones. But I wonder in using such limiting language such as testing and bugs does it make it harder to sell testing to these stakeholders? I certainly struggle in finding ways to bridge the language gap between testing and my customers.
Words such as Quality and Assurance have in a way become tainted and I try to avoid such terminology, but really where does this leave me? I know for effective communication with my customers (who exist outside the IT world), I need to use their language and describe testing in their terms.
I will give you an example.
I attended a BizSpark networking event recently where a number of Venture Capitalists were present. One concept I’ve been toying with is to provide independent technical reviews on software products for investors and the like. I know, it sounds a lot like testing, but if I used the word test and bugs, VC’s eyes glaze over.
So I speak to them using words such as due diligence, audits and risk management.
Does this mean I’m not testing anymore? Am I now selling insurance as opposed to testing? Personally, I don’t see it that way, to me the core is all about testing. It’s just that the context has changed, and so the language has.
Perhaps I’m over complicating things here. I’m unsure. I know that placing testing in their context it makes it easier for them to buy into. Is that so wrong?
I’d really like to hear people’s thoughts on this, it’s a topic that fascinates.