Brent Strange reports that some major companies – notably Microsoft, Mozilla and VeriSign – have begun rewarding their testers with cash for finding serious defects prior to release. It seems to me that this approach is seriously flawed, in at least two respects.
First, it further promotes the traditional antagonism between developers and testers. There’s now a clear reward for testers to find the developers’ work wanting. How does that help to build trust or teamwork?
And second, it rewards the testers for not helping the developers get it right sooner. Sure, the cash will be less than the cost of releasing with a serious defect, but it will also be less than the cost of rework due to finding the defect late in the value stream.
The solution? Both developers and testers should be rewarded when the pre-release testing finds no defects.* Instead of rewarding antagonism, reward collaboration. And reward the reduction in rework. Have the testers engaged at the front of the value stream, creating automated self-checking tests that will help the developers get it right – and complete – first time.
* (Footnote: this needs to be balanced by penalties of some kind if the pre-release tests are skimped in any way!)