I remember a day in my past when my project manager approached me, relaying a client request. This client always received a copy of the test cases we used when testing the application, and their request involved modifying our practices regarding case creation. Through this request—and you know how client ‘requests’ go—the client was convinced that we would be more efficient and better testers.
Fortunately I was able to convince my project manager that it was not a good idea, or at least “not a good idea right now.”
We relayed that we appreciated any suggestions to improve our process, but “would not be implementing this suggestion at this time.”
I am constantly looking for ways to improve my craft, and have received many quality suggestions from clients in a similar form to “Our testing department does [this]. You should take a look at it, and see you can benefit from it.” Suggestions carry the mood of “If you implement it, great. If you don’t, that’s great, too.” However, be weary of ‘missions from God’ to change your practices. The client’s plan may be driven by budget, promoting inferior methods that will save a few dollars. They may be based on their own practices that are less refined or matured than your own, also resulting in inferior methods. Finally, changing your practices mid-stream in a project—as many adopted “client requests” manifest—will disrupt flow, causing less quality over-all.
Your client is in the business of making whozigadgets. You trust that they know what they are doing, and know far better than you how to do it. You are in the business of testing. Likewise, your client should trust that you are the subject matter expert in your field.
I’m not advocating that all clients don’t know anything about what you do, and that everything they say about your craft should be blown off. All qualifying* suggestions should be thoroughly considered and evaluated; that’s good business. Perhaps there is a place in your organization for the process change, and that it would make you more efficient at what it is you do. However, I am advocating that you should not take a gung-ho attitude to please the client in any way possible, and implement every process change they utter; that’s suicide. Your testing team will turn in to a confused, ad-hoc organization. Your quality—and with it, your reputation—will crumble.
* Qualifying Suggestion: Any suggestion that is reasonable, intelligent, and well-thought. i.e. Do not abandon all QA to save costs, and rely on the client’s internal testing to find all bugs.