Arkisto: January 2011



Tester’s Best Business Card

26. Januaryta, 2011 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

A work is useless when no one needs its results. Doing useless tasks wastes precious time and frustrates a lot. Therefore, a bug report is better be good!

Do work with a purpose

This sentence is the slogan of a renowned Finnish firm. It also crystallizes perfectly a tester’s everyday job. The main purpose of testing is to discover defects. Especially the kind of defects that, should they manage to slip through, cause intolerable frustration in any phase of the software’s delivery. When a tester reports defects, the work certainly has purpose, but:

You are what you write

James Bach crystallized the tester’s work firmly. Bug reports are the primary result of most testers’ work. Bug reports alter the readers’ attitude towards the tester. They can also serve to bridge the tester’s reputation. On the other hand, they can also deliver easily evaluated professional skill of the said tester.

If the tester is not willing or does not know how to put in enough effort to making a bug report, then the purpose of the work is wasted!

The primary audience of a tester are of course the developers. Even though there is no employer-employee relation between those two, it so happens that every bug report made is, in principle, a request for the developer to allocate some working hours into investigating a bug and towards its fixing. A report made poorly and sloppily does not tell the developer enough about reproducing the bug or how it affects the end product. In that case, every reader has to, in turn, investigate the subject a bit more. That, if anything, is unmatched when it comes to wasting developers’ working time! If a tester wasted enough of other peoples’ time, they start avoiding cooperation with him. That is when you crash and burn hard.

How good a bug report is affects significantly which bugs get fixed and which ones do not. A good bug report naturally details the bug accurately and holds a lot of background investigation and analysis for the effects the bug causes. A good report gives the reader enough to make the decision for the good of the product and for the good of the business. It is a good idea to remember this:

A tester’s role is, in addition to supporting the developers, supporting the business and sales processes.

That is why a bug report is a tester’s best business card. It stands for the tester even when the tester himself is not present.

An Invisible Hand Controls Us

18. Januaryta, 2011 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

A benefit of an individual works for the benefit of a community. This claim was made already in the 18th century by one Adam Smith, who has been referred to as the father of modern economics. Our own Chydenius thought more or less the same way during his time.

Smith posed the aforementioned principle with a metaphor of an ‘invisible hand’. The point was that sensible, self-serving people benefit everyone when one examines the effects long term. According to the principle, it works when people do not force each other to do anything, but can only benefit from them by offering services in exchange of favors (*). The Invisible Hand is, in a nut shell, the guiding force for people in a free economy. Decisions and acting benefit every party.

In software development the same principle can be seen clearer these days. The organizations that get the best results are usually quite short in terms of hierarchy. In them is emphasized a model of working, where the solutions end up benefitting everyone. For example, the choices of tools are born from the needs of the workers and not by management decisions. The management benefits when results are born faster, the worker benefits when the tool chosen is the one easiest for him. In organizations such as this, leadership is not given often, it has to be earned.

I think that online-games are a perfect example of this. In World of Warcraft every player starts alone, but the greater goals can only be accomplished as functioning teams. In WoW the most able individuals are chosen to be elevated as officers based on need. Leadership is continuous only as far as how long it keeps on benefitting each member of the team.

In times of old, leaders chose their successors. Threats were taken out of the game by executing them or by exiling them. With forcing and fear, that is. Nowadays, people choose whom they want to follow. These choices usually serve one’s own benefit in some way. The most practical example is Twitter, where Lady Gaga is being followed by around 8 million people. Barack Obama has over 6 millions and I have less than 10. There is some catching up to do :)

Well. The point should be more or less obvious. In Twitter, individuals benefit from following someone, at least in social sense. Twitter.com benefits from huge userbase at least in financial sense. Lady Gaga and Barack Obama on the other hand benefit from being followed at least in PR-sense.

Dear customer. Always go for your own benefit. That is what I do. Ultimately, it is for the benefit of everyone!

(*) Favors can be services, commodities or even money

The Bonuses are at Stake

12. Januaryta, 2011 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

When the year changed a short while ago, tester’s found their workload suddenly skyrocketing. Software development totally lost all sense. The tester became a guilty person, when results were not born before the deadline. So, what actually happened?

The crux of the matter is that testing is being used as a support for product development. Which is of course a noble and a practical thought, except on Christmas.

  1. Question for the tester: Why does our regression test still show so many fails?
  2. Instructions for the test manager: Could you give the team a little bit of encouragement, so we can get the green bar to raise!
  3. Case evaluation agenda: How should the test cases be fixed, so that we would reach a pass-rate of 98%?
  4. Supplier to the tester: Nuh-uh, that’s not a defect. Just mark it as green!
  5. Should we hire more testers?

The testing is being ruthlessly taken advantage of when the bonuses are at stake. That is when one needs a silver-lined truth to reach the goals. It is the most easiest when the software gets ‘tested’ until it starts working. This is how the testers end up spending their end of the year doing totally useless work. The developers are content when everything seems good. The management is a huge smile and an unbelievable amount of money is spent to bonuses that have no grounds.

I just have to answer the points above:

  1. Because the software is still a piece of trash.
  2. Yeah right! As if testing fixes your bugs.
  3. I return this back to you: How should the software be repaired, so that the pass rate would reach 98%?
  4. Yes, it is a defect, if it causes the end user any frustration
  5. Probably not. It looks like you are doing the wrong thing already.

It really is an expensive thing, if you dare not do anything about this Christmas madness this year either.