Should testers report improvement suggestions?

I’ve always been consciously critical about the quality of the services or products I use – whether it’s a waitress in a cafe or a car rental website. I tend to have opinions and improvement ideas, but are testers even expected or should they voice their opinions at all?

Who’s responsible for product quality?

Software testers don’t assure quality, as many of you may think. Quality is everyone’s responsibility. Maybe you’ve heard your project manager asking whether everything is working or not. The most relevant or legitimate answer I could give to such a question is to tell that by the tests I’ve executed this program works perfectly.

I am just part of the quality creation process. I could think that I have a fancy-pancy job name (quality assurance = QA) but actually I have to come back to earth and call myself a software tester. Of course I have the power to affect the decision making about issues and improvements that are going to be fixed or developed, but in the end I do not assure quality, I do it in collaboration with the client and their development team.

Where do software tester responsibilities end?

This led me to question whether my responsibilities end with just executing tests and making sure there are no bugs in these tests or should I be thinking of the overall quality of the products I’m testing.

To give you an idea of different improvement categories here are three:

  1. User flow (e.g. if you have 3 phases for signing up I would suggest you to gather it into one)
  2. Design elements (e.g. change the color of the button)
  3. New features (e.g. pull user picture from facebook automatically)

The decision whether these improvement suggestions are needed and acceptable should be the responsibility of the the team, but I think if I, as a tester, am unhappy then most probably so are your customers.

Could too much information be bad?

There are cases when software has undergone rigorous user experience design and customer approval processes and every little element has been laid out perfectly in consideration of the end user. In these cases it might be better for the product owner to not allow improvement suggestions because more opinions is always not better.

Yet again having more information at your disposal is not bad and you can always quickly decide which suggestion is good and which one you don’t need or want. After all you want to get the best for your product and you should listen to the whole team about the overall quality and this includes software testers who are going through the software piece by piece and see more than the average user.

Feel free to post your own ideas about reporting improvement suggestions below.