e-Talk Radio: Hendrickson, Elisabeth, 15 February 2001

[article]
Rebroadcast 29 March 2001

the wrong choice.

CAROL: And...and the wrong choice probably is not apparent unless you've actually gone through kind of a step-wise approach to evaluating a tool.

ELISABETH: That's very true. Until you know exactly what you hoped that the tool is going to give you. And not just at the high level of...of..."Well, this is going to solve all of our problems." So, I have yet to see a tool that can actually accomplish that, though, I have seen plenty of tool marketing material that would indicate to you that it is going to. You have to understand what all those problems are, so that you can understand whether or not the tool will actually address your problem.

CAROL: Would you compare it to if you went out shopping for a car or shopping for a vehicle based on going through the car ads in a magazine or going through your local newspaper and saying, "Oh, this looks really shiny, I should go out and just try it." Then going out to the lot and saying, "Oh, I...I love the S2000's or...and you really need to take a whole soccer team out and a two-seater roadster won't do it.

ELISABETH: Yes, that's absolutely true. If you have a family of five and you decide that you are going to get a little two-seater, then that had better not be your only car.

CAROL: Well, that's true, but I have to qualify something. I just...I went out and purchased my first midlife crisis car and it probably won't be the last. It's my total selfish car and it is an S2000 two-seater roadster, and I can take one person to the soccer game, and that could be my son but not my husband.

ELISABETH: But you see that met a requirement for you.

CAROL: Well, yes, yes.

ELISABETH: You had a requirement that you feel really good about your car.

CAROL: And I feel really good about me when I'm in that car.

ELISABETH: Well, now, would a minivan have satisfied that requirement?

CAROL: No, not at all.

ELISABETH: Well, see, you had a requirement.

CAROL: That's right. And there was a step-wise process to go through it, and I did pick the wrong vehicle the first time based on going with the wrong evaluation. Oh...very similar to software vendors. When I first bought my car about three years ago, we were lured into the Infiniti dealership by a promotion...

ELISABETH: Uh huh.

CAROL: ...for free. We went in and came out with a car. Went in to get a golf umbrella and came out with a car. They were that good. And I wanted a two-seater, roadster convertible at that time. So, I kind of know what you're talking about with software. But I think sometimes the software choice can be even worse and more costly than a bad car choice.

ELISABETH: Sure. Because you can resell that car. You will have lost whatever the depreciation was, but software licensing is a little bit different. And you can't just turn around and decide that you are going to sell your Segue or Mercury licenses to somebody else to recoup your cost.

CAROL: That would be an interesting thing, wouldn't it. To be able to have kind of a...kind of what they do with timeshares. You could resell your Mercury license at a discount.

ELISABETH: Yeah. And the licensing fees are actually only the smallest part of it. In order to get up to speed on any tool, you've got all of your training costs and you have the amount of

About the author

Elisabeth Hendrickson's picture Elisabeth Hendrickson

The founder and president of Quality Tree Software, Inc., Elisabeth Hendrickson wrote her first line of code in 1980. Moments later, she found her first bug. Since then Elisabeth has held positions as a tester, developer, manager, and quality engineering director in companies ranging from small startups to multi-national enterprises. A member of the agile community since 2003, Elisabeth has served on the board of directors of the Agile Alliance and is a co-organizer of the Agile Alliance Functional Testing Tools program. She now splits her time between teaching, speaking, writing, and working on agile teams with test-infected programmers who value her obsession with testing. Elisabeth blogs at testobsessed.com and can be found on Twitter as @testobsessed.

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