Cowboy Testing vs. The Cash Cow

Over the past week I was contacted by two persons, who described to me that their current employee was not doing any software testing activities at all before they joined the company. Ok, you might say, how many years or decades have past since then? Two years in one case and the other one is from this year. What? We have 2009, over 50 years ago software testing was coined interalia by Jerry Weinberg, and there are companies out there, who do not do software testing at all? Yes, this seems to be true. In addition I have a name for this: Cowboy Testing. What? I thought they’re not testing at all? Of course, professional software programmers who built the software are going to “try out” what they built. According to the case studies, these programmers were not using test-driven development, or automated testing, or even continuous integration, but there was some kind of testing like activity included into the software before shipment, otherwise these companies will truly run out of business.

Pradeep Soundararajan just blogged today about the Software Testing cash cow. This is the opposite side of todays testing activities. Companies go out and pay other companies for the lacks of their testing process. These companies do not seem to think about the outcome of their actions, since they get scammed by billed hours for extensive documentation and promises from the testing companies.

Personally I am glad to work in the middle of these two extrema. My company feels responsible for the quality of their work and knows that quality needs to be considered from the beginning of the project. Still, there are improvements possible. Basically I am a protagonist of test-driven development and try to introduce colleagues to it using Coding Dojos and Prepared Katas – with little to no success so far. There is still some more work left to do, i.e. in understanding The Composition Fallacy or Acceptance Testing using frameworks like FitNesse. But at least my company noticed the fact that we need to test our products and that this needs to be done by employed people within the company itself. Amen.

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