I work as a manual tester on a big project. My project follows Agile methodology. I test a Web-based application. I sometimes ask myself, am I giving any value to the stakeholders?

What is the Real Business/Economic Value of doing software testing in any IT project. Why do clients/product owners pay testers for finding bugs? What I mean to say is that except finding bugs which even a developer can do on spending extra time, why testers are so important!

Please share some thoughts/material which shows real value of testing phase in an Agile project.

  • 2
    For some homework ask your developers what they think a strong QA is worth. The majority will say they are worth their weight in gold.
    – Paul Muir
    Nov 19, 2014 at 13:51
  • @PaulDonny My current weight in gold is a little over $3 million (80,000 grams * $38/gram), which depending on the organization is actually a seemingly healthy QA annual budget. Nice estimate.
    – corsiKa
    Nov 19, 2014 at 16:07
  • Thanks. That comment actually came from a developer that works at a company with 1 person in their QA department. He said they are pretty much begging for more.
    – Paul Muir
    Nov 19, 2014 at 18:13

5 Answers 5


I work as a Manual tester on a big project. My project follows Agile methodology. I test a Web-based application. I sometimes ask my self , that am i giving any value to the stakeholders?

So, the value that you are giving to stakeholders is the reduction in the amount of defects that go to production. The cost of fixing a defect drastically increases over time and severe defects found in production can even cause bankruptcy. World War 3 was almost started due to a software defect and people have died due to them. As you see, finding and fixing defects prior to production can be extremely critical and vital to any company.

What is the Real Business/Economic Value of doing Software testing in any IT project. Why do clients/product owners pay testers for finding bugs? What i mean to say is that except finding bugs which even a developer can do on spending extra time, why testers are so important!

Well, there is several reasons here. First and foremost, developers typically have a different mindset than QA. Typically a developer focuses solely on how to make it work. As QA, your focus should be how to make it (not work|do what it shouldn't do|crash and burn|spit out money). This requires a different mindset and skill set completely than development.

Developers can sometimes be extremely proud of their code, much like a father with their child. Having someone else tell you that your child has an issue that needs to be corrected is sometimes a lot easier than telling it to yourself. Plus, when you know exactly how to make everything work, you typically will go down the path of making it work.

Costs benefits. The majority of the time (not always) developers make more money than QA. Due to this, it is considered to be less expensive to have QA do extensive testing.

Developers should have already tested their code rather thoroughly. Developers are typically supposed to do unit testing to ensure that their code is relatively functional. The fact that we still find defects proves that their testing skills are no where near perfect.

I can go on and on about why testers are important so I will just list a few:

  • Relationships with Business and IT
  • Understanding of Projects and Systems as a whole (both functional and technical aspects)
  • Ability to have multiple different mindsets working on the project
  • Accountability
  • Reduction of wasted time when finding issues in Requirements/Stories

Please share some thoughts/material which shows real value of testing phase in a Agile project.

The value is astronomical in my opinion and the better the QA, typically the better the value. A strong QA in an agile environment will not only reduce the amount of defects in production but also reduce the amount of defects coded. They will typically thoroughly review requirements, source code and plot out how the developer will make the changes, discuss with the developers their plans, ensuring that scenarios are covered prior to a line of code is written and make sure that the code is of the highest quality.

So to answer your question about your value to the company, you could easily be the absolutely most important person in the company who prevents them from going completely bankrupt. Your value is determined on what you provide to the company.

And for giggles, a list of well known defects. I don't think any company would want to end up on a list like that.

  • 2
    +1 for emphasis on communication value. To discover unsaid assumption in requirement, best method is to let someone else (not developer) to read them, and let another brain to compare with implementation. By definition, developers cannot do that. Nov 19, 2014 at 14:44
  • As a disclaimer, the examples given may or may not have been detected by better QA practices. Some would not have fallen into the exact scope of QA nor really have been realistically detectable in QA (I mean testing that the sun's beams at a specific angle isn't detected as a nuclear weapon! C'mon man!), however they are more of an example of what can happen when proper procedures and precautions are not taken.
    – Paul Muir
    Nov 19, 2014 at 17:38

Tester is just a label on an employee. Testing provides value. It is virtually impossible to write bug-free software, and so software that has not been tested is virtually guaranteed to be buggy. Someone needs to test it. Who tests depends on the circumstances. Some people are good at testing, and some are not. You probably want the person who tests to be good at it, or at least good enough.

Of course you can say the same for any role in a company. In a start-up, the development manager might also be the person in charge of keeping the laser printer stocked with toner, or for buying furniture for new employees. The CEO might also be the accountant. The marketing guy might also be the guy who maintains the web site.

Some people are more valuable in some roles than others. The CEO might be great at keeping the bathroom clean, but that person might be more valuable to the company doing something else. And a developer might be more valuable writing code that mostly works than finding every last bug.

A developer may also not be the most objective person to shake out the bugs in their code. It is very difficult to implement something without making assumptions about how that thing will be used, and how it won't be used. Sometimes those assumptions are wrong. A tester -- or really, anyone who is willing to challenge assumptions -- can bring value by validating that the developer's assumptions make sense.

  • As a terrible developer myself, I wish I had testers. Our biggest issue is getting business users to test our code, and even than most of them only do 'happy-path' testing.
    – corsiKa
    Nov 19, 2014 at 16:04

We are human beings (developers, architects, managers and everyone involved in an IT project) we make mistakes. As PaulDonny mentioned earlier sometimes these mistakes can be costly and catastrophic. By finding these problems (and hopefully fixed by devs) the risk is reduced and the product is made safer to use. We don't add value to the product directly BUT, we DEFEND it's value. To answer your question please try to answer the below question.

  • What is the Real Business Value of NOT having the problems that you found during testing in the final product?

Case1 = if the software is being used in a highly regulated industry (i.e. insurance) bugs that make it to production can cost millions in fines.

Case2 = if the software is being used for e-commerce, every minute of downtime can cost the company millions in sales.

Case3 = if the software if being used for medical purposes, then it can be a matter of life and death.

Therefore QA is priceless.

  • 2
    This doesn't explain why QA has value/is priceless/... If I didn't know anything about QA and SW development, I could reply to your comment by saying e.g. why can't devs uncover these important bugs?
    – pavelsaman
    Jan 6, 2020 at 14:30
  • oh but they can. a more appropriate question would be "why don't devs uncover these bugs ?" many reasons --- they are in a rush, they are sloppy, there is a more important project to work on, its 4 o'clock on a Friday, they don't think some edge case is going to happen in a prod environment, etc. i see your point though. some companies are getting rid of QA altogether, so if you are working in QA in the year 2020... you better learn how to write code
    – ToastMan
    Jan 6, 2020 at 17:50

The goal of testing is to learn about a product.

Of course it can be by finding bugs, but it can also be much more than only that. You may find that a feature is missing than a part of your users will need, that something is confusing, that your product is not usable if user have color blindness. You will discover if your product is fun or boring to use...

This requires testing skills, good knowledge of the field, a given mindset.

You say you are a "Manual tester". Great. In an agile environment, it's likely there are automatic tests performed regulary. These automatic tests are important for a development team. However they do not replace "real" testing. You learn nothing about your product by launching automated tests.

As a "Manual tester", you can perform Explorary testing. You don't need predefined test suites, especially you don't need to know expected results of all tests you do. Something you see while testing may give you an idea about another test to perform.

I really recommend you "The Ongoing Revolution in Software Testing" article by Cem Kaner. http://www.kaner.com/pdfs/TheOngoingRevolution.pdf

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