Mission Over Method: What Really Makes Your Testing Valuable


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Agile, Iterative, or Waterfall? Automated, or Manual? Scripted, or Exploratory? Unit-level, or User-level? Scenario or Domain? Black-box, White-box, or Grey-box? This tool, that tool, or the other tool? These are just a few of the questions people ask when they are trying to improve their testing. It may surprise you to know that I start out by answering all of them with the same word… “Irrelevant.” That’s right, when it comes to improving the value and effectiveness of your testing, I believe those are completely irrelevant questions to start with. I believe the right questions to start with are:

What is my testing mission?

What about my testing is important to the managers and executives who are choosing to pay my salary (or consulting fee)?

How can I add value to the software, the project, and the business through testing?

When you start by figuring out the answers to these 3 questions, the answer to most of the other questions about processes, methods, tools, techniques, and procedures become obvious.

This session discussed how to determine what your testing mission really is, how to determine what testing brings real value to your project and your company, and ultimately how to increase your confidence that the testing you are doing at any moment during a project is valuable and will be valued by the stakeholders who matter most.

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Mission Over Method: What Really Makes Your Testing Valuable

  1. 1. Mission Over Method: Scott Barber Chief Technologist PerfTestPlus, Inc. Created for: STP Conference Mirage Resort and Casino Las Vegas, NV 19-21 October, 2010 What Really Makes Your Testing Valuable
  2. 2. Scott Barber CTO , PerfTestPlus, Inc. [email_address] www.perftestplus.com Co-Founder: Workshop On Performance and Reliability www.performance-workshop.org Co-Author: Beautiful Testing oreilly.com/catalog/9780596159825 Performance Testing Guidance for Web Applications www.codeplex.com/PerfTestingGuide www.amazon.com/gp/product/0735625700
  3. 3. Tester Motivators <ul><li>Generally speaking, testers are motivated by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>*Very* high quality products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasonable pay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respect/recognition for self and/or product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Cool” products/technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good work environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Developer Motivators <ul><li>Generally speaking, developers are motivated by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>*Very* cool products/technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good pay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good work environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respect/recognition for self and/or product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Analyst Motivators <ul><li>Generally speaking, analysts are motivated by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>*Very* high value to users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reasonable pay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good work environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respect/recognition for product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Quality” and/or “Cool” products/technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Executive Motivators <ul><li>Generally speaking, executives are motivated by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>*Profit* from products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very good pay </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good work environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respect/recognition for self and/or product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Quality” and/or “Cool” products/technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. When Motivations Meet Success Area <ul><li>(Idealized) </li></ul><ul><li>Attributes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unity of Purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conflict Resolution </li></ul></ul>Value Profit Quality Cool
  8. 8. More “Typical” Balance Success Area <ul><li>Attributes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Executives “Decide” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developers “Drive” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysts “Navigate” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Testers “Advise” </li></ul></ul>Project Profit Value Quality Cool
  9. 9. Motivational ∆ => Conflict No Success Area <ul><li>Attributes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivation & Project Area mismatch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No Unity of Purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conflict Reigns </li></ul></ul>Project Profit Value Cool Quality
  10. 10. Scott’s Critical Incident Example from my days as a U.S. Army LT: Mission: Secure hilltop 42 NLT 0545 tomorrow. Commander’s Intent: It is my intent that the supply convoy safely cross the bridge spanning the gorge between hilltop 42 and hilltop 57 between 0553 and 0558 tomorrow. Do you know your testing mission? Do you know the “Commander’s Intent”? Can we find out?
  11. 11. Yes we can!
  12. 12. Value Proposition Step #1 Update your Mission over Method
  13. 13. What Testers Say They Do: <ul><ul><li>Find bugs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure it works </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protect the customer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure it passes audit/inspection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enforce the process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Verify requirements are met </li></ul></ul><ul><li>...for the purpose of improving product quality </li></ul>
  14. 15. Testing Provides Value By: <ul><ul><li>Exposing project, product, and business risks and concerns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identifying the likely impact of risks and concerns to project, product, and/or business success </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncovering discrepancies between expectations and implementation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revealing inconsistencies between implementation and intended usage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>...for the purpose of enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions </li></ul>
  15. 16. Re-educate Step #2 your stakeholders Mission over Method
  16. 17. Testing Is Not About: <ul><ul><li>Exposing the mistakes of others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Judging good vs. bad </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enforcing or assuring quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proving correctness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Controlling how things get done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making other’s lives difficult </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. Testing Is About: <ul><ul><li>Providing a valuable information service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Raising concerns about the potential impact of risks , discrepancies , and inconsistencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allowing fewer problems to go unnoticed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>...for the purpose of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enabling *all* stakeholders to make informed decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing the chances of business success </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. Step #3 Actively seek what information will to which stakeholders Provide Value Mission over Method
  19. 20. Use your active listening skills Validate and demonstrate interest Probe, educate, and learn Summarize priorities and value statements Repeat with other stakeholders, make comparisons, prototype, quantify, etc. Return with testing mission statement, value proposition and/or conflicting interests/priorities Embrace and communicate changing interests/priorities ACQUIRE Information
  20. 21. Stalled? COPE in PUBS
  21. 22. Common user activities Resource hogs or complex processing Even if these activities are both rare and not risky SLA’s, contracts and other stuff that will get you sued What the users will see and are mostly likely to complain about; what is likely to earn you bad press New technologies, old technologies, places where it’s failed before, previously under-tested areas Don’t argue with the boss (too much) Still confused? FIBLOTS
  22. 23. Stay the Course Step #4 Mission over Method
  23. 24. Avoid Appearances of… <ul><li>Caring more about: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting a bug fixed than big-picture success </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who does what than what gets done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good vs. bad than acceptable vs. unacceptable risk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What decisions are made than whether you provided valuable information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compliance than value </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Remain Focused On: <ul><ul><li>Providing information that stakeholders need to make informed decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identifying risks to the short and long term success of the business this project supports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncovering discrepancies and inconsistencies between the product and reference items </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing the chances of business success </li></ul></ul>
  25. 26. Summary <ul><li>Testing adds value by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing valuable information to stakeholders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identifying risks and concerns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncovering discrepancies and inconsistencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing the chances of business success </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To add value testers must: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand what really matters to stakeholders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remain focused on business success </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Temper their desire for perfect quality </li></ul></ul>
  26. 27. Conclusion <ul><li>If you: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand and support the business objectives of the project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand and support the mission of the project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand and execute your mission well... </li></ul></ul>
  27. 28. Questions
  28. 29. Contact Info <ul><li>Scott Barber </li></ul><ul><li>Chief Technologist </li></ul><ul><li>PerfTestPlus, Inc </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail: </li></ul><ul><li>sbarber@perftestplus.com </li></ul>Web Site: www.PerfTestPlus.com