Better Software Magazine Articles

A Calculated Gamble

Starting a project without considering the risks is quite a gamble. Learn how to increase your odds through the practice of good risk management. Effective organizations recognize that bad stuff may happen during a project. Risk management is about anticipating what might happen, examining and prioritizing those possible bad events, and figuring out what to do about them. In this article, review the Risk Management Glossary and discover remedies to risks that may help you prevent many common problems.

Payson Hall's picture Payson Hall
Venus and Mars in the Workplace

In the "Venus and Mars" series of mainstream relationship books, author John Gray attests that differences in outlook and inherited traits account for relationship problems between genders. His position is that men and women come from inherently different places and therefore approach things from inherently different perspectives. In this week's column, Carol Dekkers explores how some of the issues in software development might be similarly rooted in differences between the software development and customer communities.

Carol Dekkers
Making Virtual Teams a Reality

What all virtual teams have in common is that they are working on a project, but may not be located in close physical proximity, and they must find ways to communicate, track progress, and manage tasks without being able to physically meet regularly. The prerequisites for success with virtual teams are 1) clear, manageable objectives; 2) management's commitment to necessary resources; and 3) mature management and technical personnel. Learn how to lead a workgroup you cannot see.

Linda McInnis
It's in the Bag

Kristi Wheeler wanted to create a forum in which all of the testers in her company could come together to talk about their skills, learn more about testing, and bring individual experiences into a group setting. Here, she describes how she started up brown bag groups for testers and developers in her organization–and how you can start them in your own company.

Kristi Wheeler
Eileen and Wayne Strider on Building and Managing Technical Teams

Eileen and Wayne Strider recommend some useful resources for building and managing technical teams. Technical team leaders have two different yet related responsibilities. One responsibility is to build a product such as a system, an application, a network, or a Web site. The second responsibility is to build and maintain their team's ability to work together so they can build a product. Building a product requires the right mix of technical skills and experience. Building a team's ability to work together requires a different skill set. Reading about those skills is valuable, but practice is essential.

Eileen Strider Wayne Strider
Wall-to-Wall Tools

Got blank walls? Instead of hiring a decorator, perhaps you should enlist the help of a facilitator. This article examines how three experts use the wall in very different ways to make retrospectives, design, and collaboration better and easier.

Amanda Sulock
Computer Bribery

"There's a little something in it for you if the product is ready for testing next week." To make a date, have you ever resorted to offering or accepting such a payout? You don't often encounter the technique in management books, but we all know that people can be motivated by money. In this week's column, Sheryl Smith imagines a scenario where the equipment is "bribed" to speed delivery. Read on for the point of view from inside the computer.

Sheryl Smith
"Excel-erating" Test Status Reporting

As a tester, you're often asked how far along your testing effort is, and when it will actually be done. This is one of the most difficult-and nerve-wracking-questions to answer, especially when a project has just begun or is nearing completion. While a tool is what's needed to help gather information and effectively answer this inquiry, many companies cannot afford to purchase or implement a complex, commercial tool. But there is a solution available in commercial spreadsheet products, particularly Microsoft's Excel. Earl Burba shows you how to use the logic and formula functions of Excel along with a combination of linked worksheets to develop an easy-to-use test status report tool.

Earl Burba and Jim Hazen, SysTest Labs
Conversations I Never Expected to Have as a Test Manager

There are times in a test manager's career when the work situation becomes surreal. If you've been in situations where you think you must be dreaming, sometimes it helps to look at things from the other person's perspective. As we mature in our jobs, we can examine these situations and see how to better answer the questions we have about unexpected communications. In this session we'll look at some typical conversations and discuss alternative ways to help everyone find the true reality, then better deal with the situation. From her years of experience as a consultant and her personal encounters, Johanna Rothman shares her insights and gets you involved in discovering what's really being said in these strange conversations.

Johanna Rothman, Rothman Consulting Group
How to Successfully Communicate the State of Testing in Your Organization

Many QA, process improvement, and test engineering personnel feel their company's management doesn't sufficiently understand, support, or value their contributions. You know what? They're right! What's the root cause of this lack? Robert Galen believes it's our inability to effectively communicate-to promote our teams and our abilities. We expect that either our work should speak for itself, or our value proposition accompanied by the metrics and data will make our case for us. As a discipline, we need to improve our salesmanship when it comes to our contribution. This session imparts public relations (PR) skills you need to employ so that your key stakeholders will better understand your role and its importance.

Robert L Galen, EMC Corporation

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