The Fantasy of Attending all Design and Feature Review Meetings

Most testers find themselves outnumbered by devs. In my case it’s about 10 to 1. (The preferred ratio is a tired discussion I’d like to avoid in this post.)

Instead, I would like to gripe about a problem I’ve noticed as I accumulate more projects to test. Assuming my ten devs are spread between five projects (or app modules), each dev must attend only the Feature Review/Design meetings for the project they are responsible for. However, the tester must attend all five. Do you see a problem here?

Let’s do the math for a 40 hour work week.

If each project’s Feature Review/Design meetings consume eight hours per week, each dev will have 32 hours left to write code. Each tester is left with ZERO hours to test code!

The above scenario is not that much of an exaggeration for my team. The tester has no choice but to skip some of these meetings just to squeeze in a little testing. The tester is expected to "stay in the know" about all projects (and how those projects integrate with each other), while the dev can often focus on a single project.

I think the above problem is an oversight of many managers. I doubt it gets noticed because the testers' time is being nickel and dimed away. Yet most testers and managers will tell you, “It’s a no-brainer! The tester should attend all design reviews and feature walkthroughs…testing should start as early as possible”. I agree. But it is an irrational expectation if you staff your team like this.

In a future post, I'll share my techniques for being a successful tester in the above environment. feel free to share yours.


  1. ksommerville said...

    Just curious, in your example project, what SDLC methodology were you following? Seems to be excessive if Waterfall to have so much coding going on if design is incomplete. If Agile, seems to be more scope than should be done during a typical iteration.
    I've seen similar behavior and expectations in projects that were not following any "real" process, though.

  2. Eric Jacobson said...


    SDLC=Agile. However, some testers (me) are shared between dev teams. I test for multiple projects with independent iteration schedules from each other. Some are 1 week iterations, some 2, and some 3. Some meetings fall whenever we can get the stakeholders to attend.

  3. Anonymous said...

    10v1 ratio.
    if thats your true ratio thats WAY outta wack. Real ratio's are hard to standardize because the depend on so many different factors, such as talent of developers, regression testing required, release timeframe, talent of QA, etc.

    Normally 3 to 1 is what you should look like. again. this isnt in stone and largely fluctuates depending numberous factors.. However, I dont think I've ever been somewhere that was 10v1. forget that !

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