Testing has no business value

Written on 14 November 2012

I’ve just read this post . Especially this:

“Testing does not have value on its own. Neither does programming. I have seen more than one team crank out lots of code and yet be unable to ship a product anyone would buy. For that matter, designing doesn’t have intrinsic value either.”

I don’t agree. It’s like saying that wood doesn’t have an intrinsic value when you’re crafting furniture. A pile of wood is a cost for a business but at the same time enables you to make that furniture. That is, without the wood, you have no furniture so how come the wood does not have business value? The fact that it enables you to have a product which will generate income is the business value.

Same with developing software. It’s true that the business care about the end result but without programming/design/testing you don’t have much of a result. And good programming/design/testing allows you to have a better product for all stakeholders. The customers will get something that works properly while the software company gets a product that is easy to maintain and thus it’s much easier to add new features, less bugs to fix and consequently it doesn’t have to ramp up the costs. Add the bonus that happy customers will recommend your product to others so you’ll get more income. But can you deliver a good product without proper testing? Can you keep up with the competition if the code base is a mess?

I don’t think there are many (if any) people who do testing just for the sake of testing or even coding just to code. Each activity even when done as a hobby has a purpose that builds value. If I like tinkering with programming languages I code so that I understand the language better, if I’m toying around with application architecture, it’s to come up with a better solution.

In my opinion, you simply can’t say that tool X doesn’t have an intrinsic value as long as tool X is required to actually produce business value. Any tool that enables you to generate (more) income or allows you to not increase the costs or to stay competitive has business value in my eyes.