Burning Issues of the Day – Revisited

Michael Bolton published his speech from EuroStar 2009. It’s humorous. In fact there is one story line which hit my face when I viewed his presentation some time earlier.

  • When a manager asks you to show him your test cases, ask him to show you his management cases.
  • When a manager asks you to show him your test scripts, ask him to show you his management scripts.
  • When a manager insists that every test should have an expected, predicted result, ask him if every management action should have an expected, predicted result.
  • When a manager insists that we lower the cost of testing by bringing in test automation, ask if we can lower the cost of management by bringing in management automation.
  • When a manager wants to evaluate testers based on “defect escape ratios”, ask if we can evaluate management by “bad management decision escape ratios”.

The series seems to be inspired from James Bach as can be seen on the slides.

The interested reader will of course immediately notice there are some points left out. So, let me introduce them here:
When your manager asks you how many percent of your test cases were finished, ask her how many percent of her management cases were finished.

Testing, just like software development, is an activity, which is highly influenced by humans, individuals, their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, abilities, and contexts. If every testing activity was highly predictable, then how come there are so many of those predictable models? How come there are several schools (in the Kuhnian sense) keeping on arguing over it? If we could identify all relevant quality issues up-front, why wouldn’t we avoid problems in there in first place?

When your manager asks you how many testing is planned to be left, ask her how many management is planned to be left.

Testing is a human activity and in most cases it is hard to predict how long it may take. There are a lot of factors that influence how long a previous planned testing activity may take. Instead, you should ask: “do we have gathered enough quality-related information about the product in order to make a ship/not-ship decision?”. But, leave that decision to the management.

When your manager asks you about best testing practices, ask her about best management practices.

Don’t do this. They might answer your call.

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