One of the most important aspects of software QA is establishing a good working relationship with developers. If you want to get them to take your bug reports seriously, you have to approach them with the right attitude. If your bugs imply that their work is shoddy, they are likely to fight back on anything you submit. If you continuously submit trivial “bugs”, they will probably be returned right away with a “not an issue” or “works as designed” status. If you treat any bug like it’s a critical showstopper, they will think you’re crying wolf and not immediately jump on issues that actually are critical.
Then there’s people like Mr. Green, a former coworker of submitter Darren A., that give QA a bad name. The Mr. Greens of the QA world are so incompetent that their stupidity can cause project delays, rack up thousands of dollars in support costs, and cause a crapstorm between managers. Mr. Green once ran afoul of Darren’s subordinate Cathy, lead developer on the project Mr. Green was testing.
Cathy was en route to the United States from London for a customer visit when her phone exploded with voicemail notifications immediately upon disabling airplane mode. There were messages from Darren, Mr. Green, and anyone else remotely involved with the project. It seemed there was a crippling issue with the latest build that was preventing any further testing during an already tight timeline.
Instead of trying to determine the cause, Mr. Green just told everyone “Cathy must have checked something in without telling us.” The situation was dire enough that Cathy, lacking the ability to remotely debug anything, had to immediately return to London. Mr. Green submitted a critical bug report and waited for her to cross the Atlantic.
What happened next is perfectly preserved in the following actual bug report from this incident. Some developers are known for their rude and/or snarky responses to bug reports that offend them. What Cathy did here takes that above and beyond to a legendary level.
==== Raised: 14/May/2015 Time: 09:27 Priority: Critical Impact: Severe Raised By: Mr. Green Description =========== No aspect of GODZILLA functions at present. All machines fail to connect with the server and we are unable to complete any further testing today. All screens just give a funny message. Loss of functionality severely impacts our testing timescales and we must now escalate to senior management to get a resolution. 15/May/2015 22:38 User: Cathy Scarlett Updated: Status New Value: Resolved - User Error Updated: Comment New Value: Thank you for this Mr. Green. I loved the fact that the entire SMT ordered me back to head office to fix this - 28 separate messages on my voicemail while I was waiting for my baggage. I was of course supposed to be fixing an issue our US customer has suffered for over a year but I appreciated having to turn around after I'd landed in New Jersey and jump back on the first return flight to Heathrow. Do you remember when you set up the Test room for GODZILLA Mr. Green? Do you remember hanging the WIFI router on a piece of string from the window handle because the cable wasn't long enough? Do you remember me telling you not to do this as it was likely to fall? Do you remember telling me that you sorted this out and got Networks to setup a proper WIFI router for all the test laptops? I remember this Mr. Green and I'm sure you'll remember when I show you the emails and messages. I walked into the test room at 10 o'clock tonight (not having slept properly for nearly 3 days) to find the WIFI router on the floor with the network cable broken. ROOT CAUSE: The string snapped There was a spare cable next to it so I plugged this one in instead. Then, because this was the correct cable, I put the WIFI unit into the mounting that was provided for you by networks. As if by magic, all the laptops started working and those 'funny messages' have now disappeared. GODZILLA can now carry on testing. I'm struggling to understand why I needed to fly thousands of miles to fix this given that you set this room up in the first place. I'm struggling to understand why you told the SMT that this was a software error. I'm struggling to understand why you bypassed my manager who would have told you all of this. I'm closing this as 'user error' because there isn't a category for 'F**king moron' 72 hours of overtime to cover an aborted trip from London to New York and back: £3,600 1 emergency return flight: £1,500 1 wasted return flight £300 1 very nice unused hotel room that has no refund: £400 1 emergency taxi fare from Heathrow: £200 16 man days of testing lost £6,000 Passing my undisguised contempt for you onto SMT: Priceless
Mr. Green was obviously offended by her response. He escalated it to his manager, who demanded that Cathy be fired. This left Darren in a precarious position as Cathy’s manager. Sure, it was unprofessional. But it was like getting a call from your child’s school saying they punched a bully in the nose and they want your child to be disciplined for defending themselves. Darren decided to push back at the QA manager and insist that Mr. Green is the one who should be fired.
This story might have ended with Mr. Green and Cathy forced into an uneasy truce as the company management decided that they were both too valuable to lose. But that isn’t how this story ended. Or, perhaps Darren's push-back back-fired, and he's the one who ends up getting fired. That also isn't how the story ended. We invite our readers to speculate, extrapolate and fabricate in the comments. Later this morning, we’ll reveal the true
How It Really Ended
Darren took the case up to his boss, and then to their boss, up the management chain. No one was particularly happy with Cathy’s tone, and there was a great deal of tut-tutting and finger-wagging about professional conduct.
But she was right. It was Mr. Green who failed to follow instructions, it was Mr. Green who cost the company thousands, along with the customer relationship problems caused by Cathy’s sudden emergency trip back to the home office.
The killer was Cathy, in the issue tracking system, with the snarky bug report.
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