Schedule and Events

March 26-29, 2012, Software Test Professionals Conference, New Orleans
July, 14-15, 2012 - Test Coach Camp, San Jose, California
July, 16-18, 2012 - Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST 2012), San Jose, California
August 2012+ - At Liberty; available. Contact me by email:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New Testing Challenge - III

I addressed some clarifying questions yesterday, but I thought of another one: What kind of answer are you looking for?

Most of the answers we've had so far have been comprehensive - "here are all the test cases I would run." Those tend to take a very long time to do, and several people have replied to me with something like "oh, I don't have time."

Well, that's fine. Two other kinds of answers could be short "here's a summary of the areas I'd look into" or immediate "here's what I would do /first/, and I would use feedback to guide my direction."

If you give a short answer, I'm not going to say "aha! You missed this!" that would be counter to my intentions and not be to your benefit.

I'm looking for a wide variety of answers. Summary, Immediate, or Comprehensive are all fine. One more chance ...

UPDATE: Alan Page's "How We Test Software At Microsoft" is supposed to be available by pre-order from Amazon today. If you want something to buy your boss for Christmas, you could get either that or Weinberg's "Perfect Software And Other Illusions of Software Testing", which is in stock right now.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the plug. Amazon doesn't have their act together yet, but it's available on B&N if any of your readers really can't wait.

Direct link here.

Michele Smith said...

Meta Game Plan

Before meeting the customer:

1. Research to gather any information about the Customer, their client base, their public image, etc.

2. Research to gather any available information on the systems that the Customer has in place. For example, cash register systems.

3. Check for any usable oracles that I may know. Do I know the woman who owns the local grocery store? Could she benefit me in helping me to understand the business rules/tax regulations/etc.?

4. What about Heuristics? Do I have any that I can use?

While meeting with the customer:

1. What is the mission of the customer? What do they hope to achieve through this process?

2. Does this customer appear to be able to handle the information that is returned to them, even if it does not make them happy?

3. Does the customer have any ideas/thoughts on why this particular store is having so much difficulty? Has the customer analyzed the situation? Can they provide insight?

4. Depending upon the Customer answers, I could explain a bit of a initial plan to the customer of how I would go about auditing the store. What is the customer's response to this? Will they understand my points or trust my plan?

5. During this time I will need to assess the value of the job to both me and the customer. If both do not have the potential to receive value from the job, it may not be worth taking it on.

Jeroen Rosink said...

It is always good to start knowing your customer better. And perhaps sometimes you get the answers you were looking for. I think you have to keep in mind that this should not be your primary goal. You might loose time getting answers when a customer is not willing or able to answer them.

Next to knowing you customer it is also important to know your selves. You might need to answer the questions:
- Am I able to help the customer?
- Am I still able to help the customer?
- Am I willing to help the customer?
- Does the customer still needs and want my help?
- What should I change to myself to be able to continue helping the customer?

Sometimes I see that testers are “forced” to “help” the customer on commercial reason, and not able to deliver the solution(s) the customer needs although some of the questions above are answered negative. Perhaps this is another meta-game?

Matthew said...

Jeroen: I think your comments are also spot-on - I would summarize them as "do I have the skills to do what the customer is asking? If not, can I bring someone else in?" or even "can I be successful in the game as set-up?"

I had a collegue once who told me he refused to accept assignments where he could not be successfull. At the time, I thought that didn't make sense - what, do you threaten to walk out of the job about every other year? (because that's how often we were given dead-fish projects.)

The older I get, the more I respect his reasoning.

In any event, as published, I believe it is possible for most critical thinkers to have some degree of success. More on that soon!