Testing in a Squeezed, Squeezed World

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be quite capable. However there are two other attributes necessary:

  • Understand how business software works (trivially said but no mean feat)
  • Articulate a requirement and put it into a series of steps to follow (same)
  • Write clear instructions

Again appropriate coaching, mentoring and training will bring your casuals up to speed although a much longer learning curve will be evident.

It should be noted though that there might be a conceptual issue to be grappled with having external people involved in certain types of testing. UAT for example, is designed to give the users the opportunity for acceptance of the software and external personnel may not be the most appropriate resource. You may need to balance convenience with compromise.

I remember a few years back running a system testing project that required a large number of test scripts to be written and executed in a short space of time (to meet an unrealistic deadline as usual). Fortunately we were running alongside the university summer break and we brought in 25 students (after sitting an aptitude test) who developed 2,500-odd test scripts over a 3-month period. Some of these people were eventually offered full time jobs with the company and progressed into development and management, others went back to full time study (in fact, one is now working for us at Integrity as a test manager 3½ years later). Of them all, only one turned out to be a dud (he was the guy we found asleep under his desk one Monday morning, much the worse for wear from the previous night). This exercise opened my thinking up to the value and potential of untried people if you give them a chance and the right input.

The message here again is quite simple. If you can go out and hire professional people, go for it. If you cannot, there are other options.

I should maybe mention leadership and team spirit et al here also. There’s only so much to be said for wise management of resources and as a leader of people, the test manager is in no different position than any other manager. A good leader impassions his people with his vision and imparts an enthusiasm that is infectious. If you can effectively communicate your goal for your team to your team and obtain their buy-in then you will have fewer problems with their availability for extramural work and giving that added extra. Now it has been said in some quarters that trying to impassion a test team can be like coaxing a cat into water and there is a popular misconception that testing can be mundane and boring (I really cannot understand why). So it is imperative that good team dynamics are employed and everyone is kept ‘on the edge’ so to speak. I won’t go into detail on this here as I’m sure that any good book on leadership can you provide you with much better examples than I can.

Time
Not enough time causes stress, too much leads to laxity. Project managers have a propensity to avoid the latter then finding the former increases more than the latter decreases! Great! Not that a little bit of stress doesn’t help to keep the gun loaded however too much can be counter-productive.

Lack of time on an IT project usually leads to long nights and even longer weekends. These are the obvious areas to use if you’re behind and in many cases a few late nights and weekends might be all that is needed to get on track. However if we are to sustain this over an extended period

About the author

Geoff Horne's picture Geoff Horne

Based in New Zealand, Geoff Horne has more than thirty years of experience in software development, sales and marketing, and project management. He founded and ran two testing companies which grew to enjoy an international clientele. In 1994, almost by accident, Geoff found himself involved in testing a complex fault management system that led to further testing assignments covering a wide range of applications and tools. Of late, he has focused on a few select clients running complex test projects in a program test management capacity. Geoff has written a variety of white papers on the subject of software testing and is a frequent speaker at testing conferences worldwide.

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