Software Intelligence

Software Testing

In preparation for my Eurostar Conference talk, I’ve been researching quite a bit into learning behaviour, experiential learning and social behaviour. More CGJungspecifically, the ideas of: Jung, Piaget, Dewey, Lewin & Kolb.

Each on their own they already offer a wealth of knowledge. Combined… well, it’s been an interesting year so far. So much information, so much to process.

This post is not about what I’ve learned, it’s about what is currently going through my head and what I need to put to pen.


Triggered by all that research, I’ve been doing a lot of introspection lately. Who I am, what I want to achieve, how I fit in the project puzzle and what I find important in my working environment.

Some examples of recent milestones that pushed me to my current mind-set:

  • My fellow tester and me have both done an MBTI test and discussed the pains and gains of our professional relationship based on the results.
  • During retrospectives we’ve been asking directly for feedback of how the team might benefit more from our efforts.
  • A team member called me ‘just a tester’ and I had to tackle that. Even though it was said ‘in good fun’ you can’t accept such remarks lest they become reality.
  • I’ve made a list of all the activities I do, how important I think they are, how important I think they are for the team and how much time I spend on them.

The result of that list is that I spend 1/3rd of my time on actual testing. Another third is spent supporting the team in various ways: Communicating, coordinating, prioritizing, delegating, increasing involvement for team members,…
The last third is reserved for change management, monitoring, communicating with business and more activities that are more business and project management facing.

Am I a software tester? Absolutely.
Am I an important point of contact for business? Yes!
Am I a team psychologist? At times.
Am I a coach, quality advocate, release manager, gatekeeper,… ? Yes, whenever the project needs me to be one.

What do you call all this?

This way of thinking leads me to believe that Software Testing is not the best way to describe our efforts. At least, for my current context it isn’t.
Every day I ask myself: “what can I do today, that brings the most value to the team I can possibly achieve?”. The answer to that question is only 33% of the time: Software Testing.

Personally, I think my role would better be described as Software Intelligence.
A person or team with a wide range of skills that changes and adapts to achieve its core mission: “finding important information quickly”.

This draws a parallel with Military Intelligence. An organisation that uses absolutely any means necessary to get the information they need in order to report to decision makers.
They have people in the field, machines that are monitoring, recruits from outside groups that help them and work closely together with other military defence organisations…


Software Intelligence is a group of activities that encompasses Testing, Checking and any other tasks that fall on you in your current context.

For example, I have scheduled contact with a person from business who plays a big role in how our product is perceived. During those meetings, I’m mindful of the information I give him, as too much might influence his perception of our work and I try to gather as much information from him by (hopefully) asking the right questions.
I’m the spy who contacts the informant.

Another one. Through the network of users who favour me, I’ve come to know about a big and mysterious problem in production. A quick fix was rolled out, but we have no idea what caused the issue in the first place. For the time being we installed a lightweight but reliable monitoring tool that alarms us when action is required.
I’m the creator of a monitoring satellite.

There’s plenty of other parallels and probably some differences too.
However, Software Intelligence makes a lot more sense to me.

I’m not advocating for a large scale shift of job titles, we don’t need that. I only feel that Testing as an activity is a big part of my job, but that Tester doesn’t correctly describe my role in the team.

When I listen to and read many stories of other testers, I’m inclined to believe many are in the same situation.


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