How To Test In A High Developer-To-Tester Ratio

A few times throughout my career I’ve found myself working in an environment where there is a high developer-to-tester ratio.

I’ve been the only tester with 4 developers. I have also been the only tester with 11 developers.

Interestingly enough, I was equally busy in both environments because the 11 developers often had blockers since we had external dependencies. Meanwhile in the environment with 4 developers, things were set up so well that we were constantly shipping to Prod.

Here I would like to share what I have learned when testing in a high developer-to-tester ratio setup.

Quality Is A Team Effort

I am not responsible for the quality of the product.

We all are.

Good practices like code reviews are a great habit for your team.

I’ve also found holding testing discussions really helps here.

Here is my article on How to Actually Prevent Bugs.

Manage Expectations

First and foremost, I ask developers to make sure the main part/happy flow works on their machine. At the very least they should do this. They are, of course, welcome to run additional tests.

On one of my previous projects, a developer kept assigning me PRs when the whole point of the PR in the first place, didn’t work. The extra back and forth wasted my time and caused me to fall behind.

A not-so-nice way of putting this is:

Don’t waste my time with stuff that you haven’t even checked on your own machine.

Fortunately, most developers I work with take pride in their work. Often I also like hearing a “challenge” (to see if I can find any problems) in their tone when they assign me their PRs.

Since there is only one of you and quite a few developers you might not always be able to test new features/builds/pull requests straight away.

In the past i have done this by:

Clear Communication

Clear communication is even more important here. I try to avoid unnecessary back and forth, therefore I ask developers to provide me with:

As part of our team’s Way of Working, we also would have agreed on how this information would be communicated. Often it would be online or Slack. (I tend to steer clear of relying solely on tagging people in a tool like Jira because:

Be Organised

Working in such environments forced me to get my act together and make sure I am organised.

To do this, I put systems in place:

Ask For Help When Needed

It’s important to know when to ask for help