Knowing how much work your group can accomplish—and how much it takes to complete that work—is critical to your success as a manager. Johanna Rothman explains how to ascertain your team's potential and how to use that information to define and manage your project portfolio so it doesn't manage you.
The problem with urging outside-the-box thinking is that many of us do a less-than-stellar job of thinking inside the box. We often fail to realize the options and opportunities that are blatantly visible inside the box that could dramatically improve our chances of success. In this column, Naomi Karten points out how we fall victim to familiar traps, such as doing things the same old (ineffective) way or discounting colleague and teammate ideas. Thinking outside of the box can generate innovative and ingenious ideas and outcomes, but the results will flop when teammates ignore the ideas inside the box.
There's no doubt that the current job market is tight and a little shaky for test professionals. In a climate where entire test groups are being laid off or trimmed to the bone, Johanna Rothman notices a trend in test management priorities that you might want to consider. Follow the story of how one test manager determined tester ROI and how testers might approach increasing their value.
Observing customers in a usability lab can be invaluable for improving product design. But, once your software leaves the lab, do you know what your customers are actually doing and whether or not your software meets their expectations? Learn how engineers on the Microsoft Office team apply a variety of software telemetry techniques to understand real-world usage, how the results drive product improvements, and how you can apply similar techniques.
People often point to requirements documents and process manuals as ways to guide a new tester. Research into knowledge transfer, as described in The Social Life of Information, suggests that there is much more to the process of learning. Michael Bolton describes his own experiences on a new project, noting how the documentation helped ... and didn't.
In these times, many of us are being told to "do more with less." A more useful approach is "invest our organization's scarce resources where the return is the greatest." To do so, we must define the financial benefits sought when developing a system in addition to its requirements.
To implement a meaningful incentive system for your team, you need to select metrics that encourage the behaviors you need and the results you want. But first you have to decide what you need and want.
Test reporting is something few testers take time to practice. Nevertheless, it's a fundamental skill—vital for your professional credibility and your own self-management. Many people think management judges testing by bugs found or test cases executed. Actually, testing is judged...
Counting is easy. However, what makes measurement really valuable-and really hard to get right-is knowing what to count and what to do with the results. If your organization is mostly tracking resource usage, costs, and schedule data, it is making a big mistake. What about the users? The customers? The overall business strategy? Sharing the lessons he has learned from fighting-and surviving-many software measurement battles, Ed Weller offers a step-by-step approach for implementing a practical and valuable metrics program. After understanding what measures are most important to the business strategy and all stakeholders, the next step is to decide what data supports those measures and how to capture it. With data in hand, you can create simple and informative ways to make the resulting metrics visible and easy to digest. The biggest challenges-avoidance, disbelief, and rationalization-come next.
Edward Weller, Integrated Productivity Solutions, LLC