The Allocation of Testing Resources

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the testing team size and the testing project length.

We decided that the projects under test would be classified by effort. Then, we created the following classifications:

  • Projects up to seven PMs: The testing team would apply the "Free Allocation" system.
  • Projects from eight to twelve PMs: The testing team would apply the "Intermediate Allocation" system.
  • Projects more than twelve PMs: The testing team would apply the "Full Allocation" system.

Based on this classification, we wrote the "Resource Allocation Process" containing a new approach to our testing methodology. The systems test group believes that the questions will be answered when applying the Resource Allocation Process to projects. That means cost-sensitive projects still can benefit from an independent testing team involved throughout the project lifecycle.

The process was presented to all groups (development, sustaining, and documentation) at my organization and the development managers decided it should be applied in the next projects.

The Process in Detail

Free Allocation System

This allocating system is for small projects in which the development team allocates engineers up to seven PMs to build the product. In this situation, the testing team provides one test engineer to the development team. The test engineer will be managed completely by the development leader, but will use his experience to make sure testing is conducted thoroughly.

The test engineer may work in an ad hoc manner. He might not follow our
processes or templates to run the tests. And the testing methodology may be put
aside occasionally during the tests (unless you acknowledge these ad hoc
activities as built into, or part of, the larger methodology).

The development team is not obliged to request a test engineer. Also, we are not obliged to provide one when we are requested. It depends on the availability of testing staff. Of course, one of my interests is to increase the number of test engineers allocated to a project. We are always working to improve the ratio of testers to developers.

Before we developed this allocation system, the development team rarely asked for testing on this kind of project, due to the testing costs that would represent more than 50 percent of the total project costs. As the costs will not be an issue, it is expected that the requests for testing will become more frequent.

Of course, allocating test engineers to development in an ad hoc manner isn't good for them or for the organization. The Project Management Institute has warned about this. So, we established some conditions for limiting it.

Conditions
The first condition is limiting the days when the test engineer will be available to the development team. We established twenty-one continuous working days (one month). One PM will be charged to the project budget.

If it is necessary to allocate the test engineer extra time, then he may be assigned for up to ten working days, depending on availability. In this situation, the extra time of the test engineer and a test leader will be charged.

In this system, as the projects are completely run by the development teams without testing's participation, development is responsible for allocating any hardware or software resources for performing the testing activities. The systems test group provides only the engineer workstation and personal software.

In order to track what is being accomplished by the testing staff in the project, the test engineer sends a weekly report by mail to a test leader, reporting the activities accomplished, some metrics (yet to be defined), and the number of days spent. The metrics will help the systems test group and development managers determine if the tests were

About the author

Antonio Cardoso's picture Antonio Cardoso

Antonio Cardoso is a systems test manager at Xerox in Brazil with fourteen years of experience in IT. He earned a computer science degree in 1988 and has worked in different Brazilian and American companies. Contact him at antonio.cardoso@bra.xerox.com.

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