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How to Deal With Engineers

By G.E. Morris

The relationship between testers and engineers at various companies varies from highly cooperative to highly adversarial. It is always better for the relationship to be cooperative, so always try to deal with engineers as diplomatically as possible, no matter what the circumstances.

Things you can do to maintain a good relationship:

Talk to the engineer about the problem before you file the defect report

With any defect between a crash and a cosmetic issue you should consider talking with the engineer before you feel the defect report to make the behavior isn't really a feature, or the result of the tester making a mistake. Sometimes, it may be that the engineer has already found the defect and will have a fix scheduled to be in the next build. In those cases you may want to consider not filing a defect report. While it's important for testers to have a high defect count, letting one slide now and then as a favor to an engineer is a good idea.

Always be prepared when you talk to an engineer about a defect

Engineers are fact oriented, and if you want to sound intelligent, be prepared, when you talk to them, have all the relevant information about the defect either memorized or readily available in notes. The more you know and can share about a defect the more likely it is the engineer will take you and the defects you report seriously, and the easier it will be for them to fix it.

Always be supportive of the engineer with other team members

Your job is to make the engineers you work with look good. Defects will always happen, what isn't certain is that they all will be fixed properly before the code goes live. You make them look by finding all significant defects and making sure they are fixed before the code goes live. Trying to put your engineer in the best possible light will be appreciated by the engineers and reassuring to project management.

Respect the engineer's time

If you show up in an engineer's cube to talk about a new or existent defect, first always ask if they have time to talk, and ask to schedule a more convenient time if they don't.

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