Arkisto: September 2011

Outsourcing Backlashes Hard

12. Septemberta, 2011 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita wrote a while back about why testing should not be called quality assurance, since testing had no actual power to make changes to the code, or actually any decisions at all regarding the project’s management. This is a fact, but an exception enforces the rule.

I know a project, where – for reasons of saving money – the client withdrew some people from the project management. Ultimately, it befell on the testing crew to take charge of quality assurance.

One could imagine that there would be signs of total chaos in the air at that point, and it did not end up going rosy, but not for the reasons one might think of at this moment.

The Project started and all the preparations had been done splendidly. Testing and the chief of testing had been brought into the project in good time and they had been bought from a third party. All the work took place in the client’s premises.

The first six months went well and it worked like a charm. The client was satisfied. However, it did so happen that the client thought that that particular project’s importance had to be re-evaluated. So, some of the management were re-assigned to other duties. The project’s product was essential, though, so it was not aborted.

Another half a year passed and the project leader instated by the client had to go. The chief of testing took up the project leader’s flag. In practice, this meant that the chief of testing took charge of new features, suggestions for improvement, and whether or not they were accepted. At this point, the client started planning transferring the development to Asia. Expenses had to be lowered.

When the project had been running for a year, the development was completely transferred over to the sub-contractor. In Asia, they started to train teams to test and code the product in progress. In Finland, testers and developers left one at a time. In the end, there were only three people working in the project in Finland: The chief of testing / project leader, a tester and a developer.

You learn by doing, they say, and the team in question did not do a bad work at all. The client was satisfied. The quality was kept in one piece by relatively small expenses.

When the project had been running for two years and it had been delivered a nice amount of times, the client decided to end the project development in Finland altogether. That is when the problems started: They made more defects than they could fix, testing was about re-running the same test cases from one week to the next, and the end user made reclamations. The project’s management ran entirely on caffeine. They managed to deliver once, but even that one worked poorly.

In the end, the client had to take the reins back to its own hands. Unfortunately, at that point the product had changed so much that it took 600 work hours to re-learn the product. A wild goose chase in the middle of a project cost half a year of something even more precious than money: time! In addition, the efforts taken to reassemble the team was huge and the expenses also happened to double.

Cheap labour is not bad thing, but it is important to think through how the transfer is made, how and when? Do not let the entire project slip out of your grasp, since solving problems will become impossible.

Guest writer: Jarkko Tauriainen takes testing seriously. Even so seriously, that the word ‘serious’ seems like an understatement. Jarkko, who has grown in the testing business has self-studied to understand the principal question of testing and is quick to adapt to the demands of new environments. You get the best results out of Jarkko when you do not waste time babbling in the world documentation and processes, but aim straight for the results! The more demanding a project, the better.

Testing is an Unerotic Business

6. Septemberta, 2011 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

Software testing is a damn unerotic business. Why would anyone be interested in it? Testing services are expensive and its return on investment cannot be measured in any way. Why would anyone buy it, if they are not personally touched by it?

Everything began when Milla had bought a new family car. A white station wagon, since she had a dog and two children. After driving it around for two weeks, Milla received a letter which invited her to bring the car to the brand’s servicing station for updating the car’s software. All those kinds of cars built in 2011 had a defect, which caused the sound signaling system to malfunction when braking. Damn how arduous, frustrating and time-consuming, remarked Milla. It took only an hour of Milla’s time, but the manufacturer’s time was spent manyfold:

  • Finding the defect, making a fix and testing: 10 person working days
  • Making the servicing call and sending it to all customers as a mass post: 2 person working days
  • Deciding the servicing schedules in the entire country: a total of 20 person working days
  • Servicing 2560 cars at a rate of one car per hour: 341 person working days

So, in actuality 373 person working days from one software bug that made its way to the customers. If the hourly rate is a modest 40 euro per hour, that comes down to a total of 110.000€! With that kind of money, one could pay average salary for one testing expert for almost two years.

Testing done poorly affected Milla personally. In addition, it affected the car manufacturer’s software developers, the chief financial officer, the chief of marketing, PR-representative, chief of servicing and the country manager. And it was not solely caused by the company’s own work benefit cars.

Taking care of testing and paying for it might not affect many people, but neglecting testing is sure to do so!