e-Talk Radio: Derby, Esther, 4 January 2001

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testing industry, you haven't seen it--you haven't seen a major influence where people have either embraced or rejected some of these standards?

Esther Derby: That's not something that I personally have seen, no.

Carol Dekkers: Right, what have you seen that still seems to be our biggest problem? I know that the requirements area everybody talks about--"what are requirements, how can we get them better?"--is that one of the things that seems to keep plaguing our industry no matter, you know, in the area that you're dealing with?

Esther Derby: Yes, that is certainly an ongoing problem, you know, it's an intensely human activity to take one person's understanding and externalize it so it can be understood by a large group of people who may not have specific domain knowledge. It also tends to be that kind of front end of the project where people want to get moving and be forging ahead into something that is perceived as productive, so it's often shortchanged. And it's classically one of those things you either pay now or pay later. But it seems that the trend is for people to pay later.

Carol Dekkers: I've used the analogy before of requirements in software really like doing a floor plan, and sometimes I personally feel like we pour foundation before we've really got a solid floor plan in place. But it seems like our industry and some of the management, especially the user management, does not give a lot of credence to requirements in floor plans in software engineering. And that causes problems for the testers downstream because if you're going to test, how can you test something that is to be determined?

Esther Derby: Yes, certainly that is a problem. Some people are evolving exploratory testing techniques and techniques for rapidly identifying a series of tests to work with, understanding the risks for a product that hasn't been explicitly specified, but it does continue to be a problem--how do you measure the quality of something if you don't have a clear understanding of what it was supposed to do and who was going to get value from it?

Carol Dekkers: Right, now, you said there's new testing techniques, new things that are coming up there. What types of things are people looking at, what types are the major problems that people are really trying to address?

Esther Derby: Well, I think one of the shifts I'm seeing is that, at least in some arenas, people are moving away from focusing on testing as kind of the final stage of the project where you find and fix everything, to testing is the part of the project where you understand something about the quality of the product and the risks associated with releasing the product in the state that it currently is in.

Carol Dekkers: Interesting--and we will be back shortly with more of Esther Derby and talking about Software Testing Quality Engineering, the new magazine that's going into its third year. And we'll be back shortly after these messages.

Announcer: Quality Plus E-Talk is back. Now here's Carol Dekkers…

Carol Dekkers: And we're back. I'm Carol Dekkers and we've been talking to Esther Derby who's one of the technical editors for Software Testing and Quality Engineering. I'll get it right by the end of the show. And we'd like to hear from our callers. If you're listening in and you've got a question you'd like to ask Esther, if you'd like to know something more about the testing industry, if you'd like to have some information, our toll-free number is 866-277-5369. We don't

About the author

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby

A regular StickyMinds.com and Better Software magazine contributor, Esther Derby is one of the rare breed of consultants who blends the technical issues and managerial issues with the people-side issues. She is well known for helping teams grow to new levels of productivity. Project retrospectives and project assessments are two of Esther's key practices that serve as effective tools to start a team's transformation. Recognized as one of the world's leaders in retrospective facilitation, she often receives requests asking her to work with struggling teams. Esther is one of the founders of the AYE Conference. She co-author of Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great. She has presented at STAREAST, STARWEST and the Better Software Conference & EXPO. You can read more of Esther's musings on the wonderful world of software at www.estherderby.com and on her weblog at www.estherderby.com/weblog/blogger.html. Her email is derby@estherderby.com.

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