Sunday, April 6, 2008

Do we Test wrong?

Today I watched a video from Lee Copeland: Proving Our Worth: Quantifying the Value of Testing, August 10 2006

Here he speaks of Note the similarities: (time in video: 8:59)

  • The Process of finding
  • The Process of evaluating
  • The Process of measuring
  • The Process of improving
Quote from Lee Copeland in that video: "For a quarter of a century now we as testers have focused on the wrong things. We have focused so much on the internal processes: How we do testing. How you put together a test plan. How do you design test cases. How do you execute those. How do you automate some of that stuff. That we generally ignored the purpose of testing. We have focused so much internally, we have focused so much inward."

After this point he brings up a quote from James Bach about the real purpose of testing: James Bach wrote somewhere: "The ultimate reason testers exist is to provide information that others on the project use to create things of value."

This information gave me some feeling I'm on the right direction of thinking. I also think testing consist of several processes. And we should not only focus internally how we can do our job correctly. We should initially focus how the process fits in an organization and how the information of our processes is supporting the organization.

Sometimes you here testers say that they write test scripts for the future. Only think about it if it is necessary. Like James Bach is mentioning that we should provide information to others on the project to create things of value. The key word here is project. A characteristic of project is that it has a defined starting time and ending time. This expels the usage for the future.

Perhaps before we start defining our test process we first have to investigate what kind of information does the organization need. If some of that information has to come out of the test process then we have to define our process such as we are able to provide that information.
The next step would be defining of what level of quality that information should be. This might lead in some improvement suggestions towards the organization so we are actually able to provide that information on that level of detail.

If we know what kind and type of information we should deliver, we have to investigate how it is used in other processes. Before we can investigate this, we should be able to identify those other processes. Mainly this is based on organizational structure but also which development method is used.
I think we first have to investigate how the testing processes fits in the organizational processes.

Based on this information we should be able to define our internal processes like the four mentioned above quoted from the video.

There is still one process I want to add: The Process of adaptation.

This process is based on observing the environment, the processes which are using our information and defining the criteria of information.

I think by looking to the external relations of our processes instead of internally we shift the goal from correct test plans, test techniques, test cases and other information towards correct information. Doing it like this all those attributes are becoming tools instead of goals.

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