A Reflection

If your testing doesn’t provide value, this may be what you get… 

Testing is the culprit of project delays and cost overruns. Testers waste time, cost a fortune and add no value. And it seems that they are getting uppity these days, talking about testing like it’s interesting, reading blogs and Tweating. It’s time to put them back in their place.

Firstly, why can’t they just settle on a process? In my day it was simple: plan it, script it, test it. Why can’t testers fit in these days? I think I’ll make them write up a process that tells them exactly what to do on every project. Or perhaps I’ll get some consultants in to do the job, they’ll know what’s best. Once we have the process, I’ll bring the auditors in – they can give the process their blessing and make sure the testers are complying to the letter. Testers watch out. That should put the fear of God into you, make you toe the line. What’s that you say? Context? Bollox. Cookie cutter works for McDonald’s, and they make a fortune.

And while we’re at it, why stop at process? If you think about it, every test is a bloody process! The testers can damned well create detailed scripts for each and every test. That way we can make sure they’re testing the right stuff and even better it’ll make them “fungible”. Don’t tell them I said this…but once we’ve got scripts then anyone can test! Imagine that, we could juniorize like crazy and bring in any idiot off the street. Adaptability? Learning? IMAGINATION? What crap are you talking? There’s no room for imagination in testing, testers can learn all they need from the specifications, and they wouldn’t need to be adaptable if they could only plan worth a damn.

While I’m on the subject, we need to beef up test planning…remind me to include that when we get the consultants in. I mean, how hard can it be to create a template? Hell, give me five minutes and I’ll Google one myself. And we’ll need spreadsheets, LOTS of spreadsheets and some kind of estimating formula. Unrealistic huh? Nah, it’s no big deal: we’ll just start counting how many scripts the testers can execute per day.

Now THAT’s a thought! If we measure that we can sort the wheat from the chaff and ditch all the non-productive testers! OK, you’re right, I agree that execution rate isn’t the only important thing. We’ll have to measure a bunch of other things as well, like how many defects they miss and how many times they make mistakes. We can even incentivise it with a tester of the month certificate, a pat on the back and a “well done, you’re not fired…this time!”

Am I on a roll today or what? What other brilliant ideas can I come up with? Got it! The thing that bugs me the most is all the questions, the constant “me, me” distractions from the test team. Everyone knows testers should be independent, so the more independent the better right? Let’s put them on a different floor and tell them that they’re not allowed to talk to the developers! Hell, why stop there?!? Let’s offshore the whole lot of them, send them to the otherside of the world! Let’s face it, testing is useless anyway: it’s just a placebo to satisfy the auditors and execs. Well, if I’m going to buy sugar pills, I may as well get ’em cheap.

What? You quit? Whatever, guess I’ll just have to make the devs automate the problem away.

14 thoughts on “A Reflection”

  1. Have you been speaking to some of PMs again?

    Lets not forget the devs are reusing the code which has already been tested before – and there’s a script for that!

    Good post Iain.

    1. None in particular.

      I think that it would be entirely understandable for a PM to feel this if his or her testers continuously failed to deliver value. If you have never experienced value from testing then more process, more control or even abdicating the problem might SEEM to be reasonable responses. No one sets out to be deliberately lame brained, and these are the well travelled routes that will feel safe to the typical testing customer.

      1. It’s a vicious circle, and I’ve seen it. If testing is rigid, script-driven and squeezed at the end of project it won’t add much value. So unless PMs are prepared to step back and question their world view their response, entirely rational when viewed from a narrow perspective, is to squeeze testing further.

        When the standard of testing is as poor as it often is on traditional projects there is little value to be lost by squeezing it further, so the reduced costs more than compensate for the reduced benefits.

        If PMs, and their corporate masters, were prepared to liberate the testers, and ensure that they were high quality people, with highly developed skills, they could do vastly more effective and valuable work at a reduced cost. But that comes back to questioning their world view. It’s always tough to make people do that when they’ve built a career on sticking to a false world view.

    1. 🙂 Call it a composite, a blend of attitudes and misconceptions. I’ve been toying with conditions of failure. I wondered what would happen if I stuck them all together and gave them a voice.

        1. I’m sure that every tester has had some measure of this. We’re asking alot of our stakeholders you know…to abandon the safety of conventional wisdom. It’s a Catch 22 situation – to build trust we need to demonstrate value, to demonstrate value we need to be trusted to act in a way that will deliver value. Often, that takes a leap of faith.

    1. One project, one stakeholder at a time. Taking the less travelled path requires trust. Investing in relationships is a good place to start. Displaying passion, telling war stories and actually asking about the desired value of testing can help. As can being direct about those approaches that can destroy value – whilst being willing to NOT work with those who are intent on self destruction.

  2. Great post Iain.
    I often see that few stakeholders/pm’s try not to understand the value intentionally could be because their ego doesn’t allow them but once they face the crisis themselves and then if one make them realise the benefit they fall for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *