Dispelling the misconceptions #1 – Testers are not gatekeepers!!

I keep hearing people say that testers are “gatekeepers”. Just as much from testers as other project members. For example, last week, I heard a tester say that he was a “gatekeeper of the product release“. <facepalm>”Doh!!“</facepalm>

Gandalf - "You shall not pass!!"

The truth is that testing is investigating and questioning the product and its requirements, so that information about how the software actually works (regarding bugs, risks, concerns, problems, issues, further questions, etc) can be gathered and the level of quality of the product can be determined. Then all this information is relayed in a suitable manner to the stakeholders so that they can make an informed decision on the suitability of the software for its live release.

Testers are not here to make those release go/no-go decisions. We are here to do that investigation to provide the information. We of course need to take context and all the different stakeholder perspectives into account during this investigation while focussing on the various aspects of the software, such as; Functionality, Usefulness, Usability, Accessibility, Security, Performance, SFD(I)POT, etc.

Also, raising bugs isn’t us saying that we reject and condemn the release from happening. Preventing a release from occurring simply isn’t our choice to make… Our bugs, risks and other discoveries that we make are part of the information that we provide the stakeholders which allows them to make the informed decision. After all, the stakeholders are the best possible people to be making the business decision on the priority of any of these issues and whether the release can go ahead or not.

So if you hear anyone refer to the role of a tester as being a gatekeeper, tell them what testers actually do and lets blast this misconception out of the water.


5 thoughts on “Dispelling the misconceptions #1 – Testers are not gatekeepers!!

  1. The myth that testers are quality gatekeepers persists. One way to get around it is to ask what happens when a tester and a product owner disagree?—the product owner saying that the product should ship, and the tester saying that it shouldn’t. If the product owner can overrule the tester, the tester is not the gatekeeper. If the tester can overrule the product owner, then the product owner isn’t really the product owner (and the tester should ask both for a change in title and a raise, in my view). If neither can make the final decision and must escalate it to a higher authority, then the tester is definitely not the gatekeeper.

    We testers are not in the quality assurance business.



  2. Testers may not be gatekeepers to a substantive release, but I’d say they’re pretty close to that when assessing if you’ve reached a minimum viable product. Maybe my experience is atypical, but at that stage of a product’s life-cycle, I’m not sure if there’s anyone whose opinion can carry more weight.


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