Testing Dialogues - In the Executive Suite

James Whittaker, Microsoft

As Microsoft’s only dual-role security and reliability architect, James Whittaker is often asked to brief company executives on product quality disasters and recommend remedies. With billion dollar warranty write-offs at stake, such counsel is often sought, but the answers those executives receive are rarely what they expect. James tells them that the ecosystem is sick. From academia who train our new developers and testers, to tool vendors who manage only to delay our suffering, to consultants who offer incremental process improvement (with largely unnoticeable results), to our very own testing-oriented culture of last minute project heroics-the system is broken. To fix it, James argues against three sacred cows in software development-(1) A four year computer science degree is the proper training for a software developer. (It’s not.), (2) Better processes will produce better software, (Not by themselves.), and (3) The Herculean effort testers expend at the end of a project makes them heroes. (It doesn't.) Rather, we need better ways to train our staff, we need to develop processes that actually work, and we need to stop the late cycle heroics that are killing our schedules and our people.

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