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

[article]
Rebroadcast 29 March 2001

it could even extend beyond software. That if you are looking for anything in your business that is gonna help you do a better job, you need to go through this process. You need to step through and say, "What do I really need, what are my requirements, and what do I expect whatever I buy to deliver to me?"

ELISABETH: Absolutely! Like before you went looking for your new two-seater car, you already knew that you were not interested in station wagons, minivans, or anything that was not going to fulfill your basic requirement of, "I want to feel really good" in this car.

CAROL: Yes...and just in case anybody who is listening suddenly says, "Oh my gosh, consultants make too much money," I did not pay cash for the car; it is on payment processing and gee gosh, if you want to send us more work, we can absolutely use it. So, I wanted to still that myth before I go on further.

ELISABETH: I drive a 1993 Saturn.

CAROL: And...and that's good. You probably get far better gas mileage, and I can tell you that in Florida you would probably get...if you were in Florida, you would get far less looks from some ninety-year-old senior citizens than I do. And I can tell you that it is not really flattering when somebody has to look over the dash to be able to see me, and, you know, then just about rear-ends me. But that's another story for another day. But, you're right, that when I went out and looked for it, I had some ideas. And if I would have just gone and, you know, browsed the whole gamut, I might have ended up buying a Hum-Vee which, that's not gonna do my...the stuff that I need to do. So, when we're talking about a tool, we have got a compatability issue that you talked about. We've got the tool audience. What about budget constraints? Does that come in now or does that come in later?

ELISABETH: Well, now is a really good time to understand your budget. So, taking the sports car analogy, there is going to be a huge difference between the high-end Porsche and...and whatever the lowest-end, say Mazda two-seater, is. Right? In terms of price.

CAROL: Right.

ELISABETH: So you had better know what your budget ranges, even if you don't have an absolute budget defined yet, so that you know what you can afford.

CAROL: Right. And...and can that be something like...what if you don't have a budget and somebody says, "Go out and evaluate some tools, and I want you to bring back and evaluate for sixty days two of the best tools that will meet A, B and C. And they don't give you a budget. What would you advise to those people?

ELISABETH: In that situation, I always ask a hypothetical budget question. So, I say to that person, "Okay, fabulous. Imagine that I have found the perfect tool for us and it is going to cost us a million dollars. Are you going to be able to approve that expense?" And they usually turn all kinds of shades of white and say, "No." And...and, but not necessarily. It's just in my experience they've always said, "No, not quite. And so, okay, well...well why don't we try half a million. Oh, not that, okay." And so through this process of kind of dividing by half, we get to the range where they are not turning all kinds of shades of pale, they're just wincing.

CAROL: Right.

ELISABETH: And that's

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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