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March 26-29, 2012, Software Test Professionals Conference, New Orleans
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Monday, December 22, 2008

New Testing Challenge - V

(The next installment in the New Test Challenge Series)

My next steps on the testing challenge depend on the reaction I get to the first attempt.

Let's say I get failures accross the board. Massive failures, but the manager is overwhelmed. He meets with me and feels genuinely chagrined that this could happen.

Well, I'd start working on a recommendation for a training plan for management, which would cascade into the cashiers. I'd also suggest a program of check-behinds or spot inspections, so we could find defects earlier and create a positive feedback loop. I'd recommend a re-inspection after the team had time to actually correct it's mistakes.

If I had lots of defects and an obstinent, blocking store manager, well, I wouldn't try to inflict help. I would prepare a report to management, which I would deliver personally with a story, and /try/ to give them feedbac that was a positive as possible. I would also try to work with the manager instead of against him.

What if there are only a few mistakes - or none? Then we could use the time allotted to do some of the complex tests that people like Jay Phillips have recommended - buying non-alcoholic beer while under age, or checking for items that have no tag - maybe putting a clearly wrong tag on an item to see if I'm caught, buying four times at the "five for a dollar price", and so on.

That is to say, once I'm sure that the basic business rules are in place, I would check the implicit ones that are rarely defined.

But I'n never really sure those rules are in place - my first scan was only a few random times. If I had the money, we could do more sweeps, for example, off-hours (when the part-timers are on shift), or when the lead cashiers go on break and the baggers run the register.

Besides testing, I would be interested in the training and reinforcement mechanisms that were in place, and I would also be interested in headquarters margin for error - to help determine if I believe the /process/ was capable.

Remember, this is the 1980's - back when it was the cashier that needed to know the rules, not the scanning software. It may be, for example, that the process is capable, but Weiss's simply does not pay enough for the kind of quality talent it needs to remember and enforce those rules. Oh, we can create cheat sheets and reinforcements, but a pay scale that encourages retention might go pretty far.

I think that about wraps up the challenge for me - but if you have questions, leave comments, we can keep iterating on this forever.

What's Next?
Besides the occasional request for comments, I try not to ask for too much too often from my blog readers. If you enjoy Creative Chaos and think it has value for a larger audience, please consider registering as a reviewer for the Agile2009 Conference and reviewing my proposals. (To review, you'll have to create a free account and search for Heusser.)

If you're looking for some cutting edge ideas on the cutting room floor, reviewing Agile 2009 proposals is one way to see them. You see, the Agile 2009 submission process is entirely open. In theory, submitters get feedback they can use to improve the submission, along with feedback, for the momth of January - then, based on voting, the submissions are accepted or not.

Creative Chaos readers are a part of the "in theory." At least, I hope so.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I left a comment on the original challenge post covering a bit of the training and motivation aspect, but thought I should reiterate here.
I'm a big fan of minimizing the training and loading up on incentives (though not necessarily monetary). In fact, I think people jump to training too often as a solution for a human performance problem.
Are you familiar with six boxes approach for performance management? It's an approach I always use any time I want to address a gap in skill or gap in organizational performance ( As you can tell, it's somewhat based on Maslow's work, but I find it highly effective in evaluating the proper "intervention" (whether it's training,job aids, rewards, etc.).