How to Plan the Perfect 'T' Party

  • should have the reputation for pitching in. If testers do not get written specifications, they should document it and move on. Priorities change. Software professionals have to be adaptable.
  • Reliability
    Testers should be accountable for providing consistent, quality support. Good first impressions can be ruined by a pattern of shoddy or sporadic work. When circumstances prevent testers from doing their best, they must be honest about it. Developers need to be able to count on testers to meet commitments. Developers must know they can rely on testers to make fair, honest assessments of software quality.

When Guests Don't Show
As she monitors the progress of the party, the hostess is gratified to note that all is going well. Early feedback from the guests suggests that expectations have been met or exceeded. Still, a quick look around reveals that participation is not 100 percent. What can the hostess do when guests don't show?

Here is a situation in which testing managers must take an active role. Staff members derive satisfaction from contributing to successful projects. If denied that sense of accomplishment by the developers on the team, testers may experience a serious impact on their morale. The testing manager must step in or risk losing testers. When faced with such problems, I have tried the following ideas to fill the void.

  • Appreciate: Make sure testers are getting the recognition they deserve. Make a special effort to praise them individually and as a group for their hard work.
  • Try alternative projects: Give testers opportunities for career-broadening assignments, preferably on enlightened development teams.
  • Make personal visits: Visit the developer(s) to determine the problem. Personality conflicts happen; reshuffling resources may help. Perhaps the developer has unrealistic expectations of tester responsibilities which could be cleared up in a frank dialogue. 

Management: The Sponsors
"Written reports have purpose only if read by the king." attributed Attila the Hun

Through ingenuity and teamwork, the hostess and staff have worked hard to throw a great party. The guests are having a good time. But it is not enough for the hostess to believe in the party's success; the guests have to tell the sponsors. For the sponsors to continue support, they must accept that the value received is worth the expense.

Style and Substance
At the 'T' Party, formal testing efforts are the expense; enhanced software quality is the value received. I know the testing staff is making a difference, and now I need management to believe, too. First, I need to demonstrate that testers leave the software cleaner and better than they found it. The company's defects tracking tool helps me to get this part of the message across. Managers can easily monitor the volume and seriousness of defects through the tool. Second, I must communicate the message in a style that managers will appreciate. I need to provide the right amount of information at the right time. Whether in verbal or written reports, I focus on these elements.

  • Brevity: Too much information can be worse than none at all. To quote my high school English composition teacher, "Anything that can be said in ten words may be better said in five."
  • Clarity: I limit reports to metrics that are self-explanatory, such as percentage of testing completed or estimated workload .

Word of Mouth
Testers enhance software in other, less tangible ways. They can bring a user's perspective to design discussions. They provide early feedback on software prototypes. The mere presence of testers, armed with test plans and questions, can encourage a quality mindset in developers. None of these ways can be measured objectively but all

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