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Over the years I have noticed that most organizations give a lot of weight to developers but neglect the QA folks. There is also this misconception that most devs that are not good become QA. I think this is such a shame. Your brightest and the smartest team members should consider becoming a Tester. A tester combines some unique skills, skills like technical and functional understanding of the system, a keen eye towards usability if you are building a UI based system amongst others.

Testing is a Craft, just like software development is and to think otherwise is not understanding software development. I think Agile practices have helped change the misconceptions but there is a serious lack of understanding of the role of a QA in most organizations, even the ones that adopt agile practices.

So lets review just some of what a Tester brings to a team especially an agile team:
1. He/She is the individual that interacts with the customer and has an in depth understanding of features being implemented.
2. He/She interacts with the developers understanding technical implementation of the feature.
3. A good QA understands what the system does from a functional point of you. As Kay Johansen states in her presentation Agile Testing:Think of them as the guiding light on a dark road where you can't see more than few feet. They are illuminating any thing that is in front of you.
4. They work with the developers to help write valid tests for features being implemented.
5. They help in automation of tests helping developers with the rapid feedback that is necessary as they build software.
6. They help developers maintain the Quality of the software features being delivered.
7. And, yes they have incredible "people skills".

Above points are but a few things that a tester provides to a team. Knowing this a developer should look at a tester as an equal if they did not already. If you find that your organization sidelines QA, remind them the importance of QA.

Every organization should put as much time into hiring a QA as they put in hiring a developer. I hope this is something that every developer and organization starts realizing: that testing is a craft just like software is and that it takes years of practice to become good at it.

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