Re: Do you do QA?

Subject: Re: Do you do QA?
From: Simon North <snorth -at- TEDOPRES -dot- NL>
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 08:57:55 WET

Karen, without knowing too much about your organisation and the type
of software you make, I'd say be careful before you decide.

In my last job (a defence manufacturer) I was happily working as a
technical author in software R&D until a new department head arrived
who was convinced that the software engineers could write all their own
documentation and that an author wasn't needed. I therefore
*requested* a transfer to the QA department and duly moved.
Confronted with a move to ISO 9000, an SEI assessment, and
documentation to Mil Std 2176A (as was then), most of the quality
problems in this organisation were 100% document related (things like
requirement traceability). In this case, a documentation expert was
very much needed in the QA department.

I would very much agree with you on your point about not being
qualified though. As I discovered, software testing is a field as
large as technical authorship itself and probably more skilled.
Things like software metrics, statistics, function point analysis,
regression testing ... the list of skills and techniques is almost
endless. A possibly good side though is that, certainly in Europe,
good - or even trained - software QA people are as rare as the
proverbial rocking horse dung.

In my current encarnation I author documentation as a contractor.
This brings me into contact with new software each time, and each
time I have not failed to find at least one bug (sometimes tens of
bugs) and several design deficiencies. I believe TA's are some of the
best possible people for usability testing (don't push it though,
there's an awful lot more we ought to know about cognitive

Without wishing to patronise, I think you have to make up your
mind(s) about where you want your career to go, either with this
company or elsewhere. QA _can_ offer a very promising future, this
_could_ be a useful learning experience, and it _can_ be good CV

Simon North FISTC; Documentation Engineer, postmaster & webmaster
Tedopres International BV, The Netherlands
snorth -at- tedopres -dot- nl ----
north -at- direct -dot- iaf -dot- nl OR north -at- knoware -dot- nl

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