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Has anyone found a name for a software testing team that they think really communicates our role well? Our team is brainstorming ideas right now, and I know this is something my last team struggled with as well. That suggests lots of other test / SQA teams also have this issue.

I've seen a lot of options, and a lot of rebuttals, e.g.:

  • Test team: We aren't just testers, we do a lot more than perform functionality checks.
  • Quality Assurance: We can't "assure" quality.
  • Quality Control: We don't get to "control" quality.

On top of this, QA and test each have certain connotations that vary from place to place. Here, QA implies low-skill test work or a bureaucratic approach to testing (process over people). I've heard almost the reverse from other people - that QA was chosen because testing implies low skill levels - suggesting this is pretty localized.

What is the best option out there?

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We ended up going with a fun acronym that includes "QA". It works for our company culture. We refer to ourselves as testers or SDETs (we're geographically close to Microsoft, so this makes sense). So we're kind of straddling the test / QA argument. Since two of the top 3 answers are defending testing, I'm picking the top test-defending answer. But, I think Joe's answer is a great response, too. –  Ethel Evans Jan 21 '13 at 21:36

10 Answers 10

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The testing team I'm on finally got everyone to start calling us "testers" and "testing" instead of "QA". We're organizationally a separate team from development, but de facto we work as a whole team together. Testers often pair with programmers, and programmers often do testing.

It's true that as testers we do a huge variety of activities, and some people may not recognize some of them as "testing". But "testing" can be a wide-ranging definition.

Back in the 90s people got away from using the terms "tester" and "testing", I think because there were a lot of people calling themselves testers who were just doing scripted manual testing and not adding much value. Somehow, "Quality Assurance" or "QA Engineer" sounded more important. In the past 12 years I've tried to reclaim the term "tester", and make it something to be proud of.

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I seldom worry about individual titles and even less about department names.

My team is called Quality Assurance. Nobody in my company actually thinks we assure quality.

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My team is also called Quality Assurance, but I have also worked for a Test Team and a Verification Team. Anyone who works with us knows what we do. A team name will never convey everything you do. I have found the best way to improve my reputation is to do good work. –  user246 Jan 9 '13 at 22:17
    
I tend to think (in terms of vocabulary) of assurance like "A reassuring word", or as google defines it "Tell someone something positively or confidently to dispel any doubts they may have." It's not your job to say it's perfect - it's your job to say it's probably good enough to get the job done. –  corsiKa Jan 10 '13 at 0:05
    
@user246 I think that's true in every field (except possibly politics... :) ) –  corsiKa Jan 10 '13 at 0:06
    
I'd be less worried about internal reputation, and more concerned about external presentation - think hiring. Obviously the company knows what we do or can be educated to better understand it, but we want to send as many signals to potential new hires as we can that will help them understand if they might be a fit for our culture. –  Ethel Evans Jan 21 '13 at 21:01

I'm quite happy to be called a tester and though a lone gun would also be happy to be a test team If other people think 'testing' is demeaning or lowly then educate them into exactly what you do

And depends on your definition of 'testing' - see this post from Alan Page for example - http://angryweasel.com/blog/?p=298

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I was going to comment - but I'd just end up copying this blog post anyway. –  Alan Jan 9 '13 at 21:11

I prefer software testers. This helps separate the different roles in an environment with multiple levels of testing: digital verification at the chip design level, HW verification at the chip level and software testing at the Operating System level. Others call us testers or QA as a general term.

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Since I've done both Testing and Release, kind of fun to be on both sides of the fence, typically I am either an SQA Engineer or a Release Engineer. Though I do more than either title represents I am happy to just say I am in IS or Engineering depending on the audience I am talking with; then I let them figure out what my team is. More important I find is the elevator pitch to what I do, if I can't say it simply and under 15 seconds then I'm not doing it right.

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What do you mean by "IS"? –  dzieciou Jan 12 '13 at 0:29
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IS - Information Systems, as I work with many groups that are not Software Engineering related (basically healthcare groups) I have learned not to use Engineering as it does not mean the same thing to outside people, although they do understand IS –  MichaelF Jan 14 '13 at 19:18

I've worked in one small company that called us 'Software Demolition Squad', or SDS. I believe it represents what we have actually been doing there.

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Heh :-) How does that demolition looks like? What's in your demolition...ups I meant, test plan? –  dzieciou Jan 12 '13 at 0:40

At our company, all our QAs/Testers work in project teams that consist of BAs, PMs and developers. We have never seen the need to seclude roles into their own separate teams - seems to work for us.

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How does that answer the question? The fact is there are organizations where testers are managed separately, and OP was not arguing whether this is good or wrong, but asking how to name a team when such team exists. BTW, there are organizations, like mine, where testers is under separate management, but part of the testers works in Agile with developers and BA: in the same room, in the same iteration. –  dzieciou Jan 12 '13 at 0:38
    
Apologies for that - misread the OP. –  aftershock9 Jan 16 '13 at 4:34

Software Quality Assurance is the business of informing stakeholders the state of the software in which they have stake. Assessment of the software requires analysis. The logical deduction then is that your team is a Software Quality Assurance team made up of Software Quality Analysts. In the course of analysis, the analysts assess how an implementation measures up to expectations by conducting tests and reporting the results.

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In what way are you assuring quality ? –  Phil Kirkham Jan 10 '13 at 19:56
    
I am assuring stakeholders of the state of quality. I am not ensuring quality. –  Ken Taylor Jan 10 '13 at 20:02
    
Why not call it a Software Quality Analysis team, if there is nobody on the team who is not a Software Quality Analyst? –  testerab Jan 11 '13 at 2:21
    
You could. But I think it is more helpful to describe the team or department in terms of its value to the company. Perhaps go the other way and call its members Software Quality Assurance professionals or, if you don't need it to roll off the tongue, Quality Assurors! –  Ken Taylor Jan 12 '13 at 14:48

Where I'm at, my role is "Software Development Engineer - Test" (SDET), which is a mouthful but captures the engineering component to the testing. I'm embedded within the development team, so we don't have a formal team name. However, when talking with the business we usually use "QA Team" as shorthand for their understanding of the process.

When I was working as a contractor at Microsoft, it was just called "Test" in my area - not "Test Team", just "Test" as an entity. This, compared to "Dev", "PM", "Operations". I kind of like the brevity in that approach.

The truth of the matter is that in my relatively short time in the testing industry, it's pretty clear that very few people have any intuition about what testers do. One can hope that a good name will help clear it up in people's minds, but I have my doubts. I think it just takes time for everyone to figure out what that particular test team brings to a project or organization. In general I think we help the business get an idea of how many unknowns exist - but "Unknown Knowers" doesn't have a great ring to it. As people have mentioned, it's less about assuring quality than it is about measuring the probability of landmines in the system.

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My title is Test Engineer much like Daniel's title it is to cover all the coding stuff that I do.

In reality I don't think it matters much - even on a CV. Only would having Manager in your title add weight otherwise it is being read as QA.

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