How to Increase STRESS in any Software Testing Project

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Over the years, Scott Ames has seen many stress testing projects, and one question he is often asked is how to go about ramping up the amount of stress in a project. Now, please understand, he knows what is really being asked is how to go about ramping up the amount of load, not stress, in a test. Here's what happens when you get exactly what you asked for.

Over the years, I have seen many stress testing projects, and one question that I am often asked is how to go about ramping up the amount of stress in a project. Now, please understand, I know that what is really being asked is how to go about ramping up the amount of load, not stress, in a test. Since I, however, am a quality engineer by trade and like specifics, this article will attempt to answer the question, not as it was intended, but rather, as it was asked. If you really want to increase the overall stress on your people and in your testing project, these are some of the best practices to follow.

Skip any "unnecessary" steps.
Defining goals, requirements, and test specifications takes a long time. These steps not only cause test engineers to create tests that will execute properly with something other than just simple test data but seriously cuts into their functional testing of Bejeweled and load testing of internet web servers. If a test works with any possible type of data, it significantly reduces the amount of stress in a testing project. Not taking the time to do this right increases stress by forcing people to have to do it over, and possibly over again, under deadline pressure. Also, defined goals, requirements, and specifications remove any possibility of scapegoating outsourced resources for any failures that occur in the test project. This is especially important when validation that a system works is more important than actually fixing any problems that might arise.

Have a meeting.
Better still, have lots of meetings. Require that everyone connected to the project attend, no matter how small his or her role, and without regard to his or her other responsibilities. The meetings should require preparation and follow up tasks that take at least twice as long as the meetings themselves. To increase stress, it is far more important that everyone know everybody else's responsibilities rather than actually accomplishing anything productive. This process creates stress two ways: it increases micromanagement, and it aids in choosing potential scapegoats.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate.
You probably think this actually reduces stress, but proper delegation to increase stress is almost an art form. Delegate critical tasks to people who are completely inappropriate for those tasks. For example, make your testing tool consultants, who will have little or no knowledge of your business processes, responsible for collecting the data necessary to execute the tests. Give them no direction as to how to collect the data and no authority to obtain assistance from the subject matter experts who know how to collect and validate the data. Be careful to not go overboard here. Later on, when the project is approaching its deadline, you can re-delegate this task to people who are capable of actually accomplishing it. In this manner, you can increase stress on multiple fronts and still keep the project from failing. If the project does fail, you can always scapegoat any of the people to whom these tasks were originally delegated. In the case above, since it is impossible for the consultants to deliver a successful project, it may even be possible to avoid paying them for their work. This is best accomplished when used in combination with the previous items.

This is really an important step for increasing the stress in a testing project. It's even better to ignore any piddling little details like test tool environmental requirements, such as the operating system, networking protocols, and any other necessary software and system configuration settings. Just make blanket statements like:
"All of the

About the author

Scott Ames's picture Scott Ames

Scott G. Ames has fifteen years in software quality, is a Certified ScrumMaster, and is the chief TRAM engineer at Good-To-Go!

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