Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Testing in an Isolated World

As one of my favorite quotes comes from John Maynard Keynes (English economist, journalist, and financier, 1883-1946): "Ideas shape the course of history!"

Matthew Heusser has an idea. On his blog he posted an interesting concept The Boutique Tester: A tester as a craftsperson who adds value to the customer through evolution. He stated: "To compete as a craftsperson, the tester role will have to evolve. He'll have to be smarter, sharper, faster. In the boutique world, he will have to explain his services to people who are skeptical of such services and believe they can do it themselves."

Matt is "inventing" a future. He hopes there is place for the boutique tester and craftsmanship returns. He also thinks there is no room for it.

So I will try to help him. For this I am creating the idea because testers are needed due to an isolated world. This seems quite contradictive to globalizing of development and testing. We continue outsourcing, on- and off-shoring, etc. Mainly this is how organizations are processes; this results that also the activities are moved. Only this is not their main objective, it is a result.

The isolated world I'm talking about can be caused by global circumstances and the business needs to continue. For example: when the pandemia like the "swine-flu" is getting worse and people have to stay at home, is there any option for businesses just to stop producing? Of course there are other companies who are willing to take this task and claiming they are able to continue deliverance. Are they honest about this?

This week I read in the newspaper if the Dutch government didn't buy vaccines against the flu and people are not using the vaccines there is a probably chance of >30% of the people who will get the flu. I'm sure your boss cannot select people who might have the flu and who not because it will danger the productivity.

Perhaps in certain situations activities can be handed over easily to other people. I don't think it is completely possible in software testing. So there must be people who are skilled and created an environment where they are able to do the job and able to help customers although the "environment" is not available.

James Bach also replied on this idea on Have Internet, Will Test he gives a good example that is already possible. As he lives on an island, it would be cheaper if he could express his craftsmanship from there. I think he would be able to get the same results if the necessary tools are available.

Another idea I had for (this type of) tester(s) is to accept that not all knowledge and skills might be available in just one person. Defining the need for value is important, you might pick your tester based on the needed value, accept there is some kind of life cycle also for testers.
A posting I wrote on December 8th, 2008, Life Cycle of a Tester

Thinking about such a world is one thing, creating it on paper is another. Still the world is not yet there. Some people might turn to Second Life and use this world to communicate. Virtualization might be one option.
Here some points I could think about when creating the world; you have to:
1. Find a reason for existence
2. Find a way to communicate
3. Find/create the necessary tools.
4. Find people who are able and willing to live in this world
5. Find other people and make people find you
6. Create mutual trust
7. Proof added value
8. Keep communicating and preserve transparency
9. Find time
10. ... (10 is a nice number, as most of the lists ending with 10 items, I leave this open for other thoughts)

Most of the points are already there. You just have to prepare and exploit them.
Like 1: a pandemia is a valid reason, business must go on and people are not that yet able to communicate and work with innovative technologies
2. As we can communicate with phone, video, twitter, there seems also tools which enables you to share ideas, language, pictures desktops etc.
3. If you are missing tools, find them, the internet is full of it, ask colleagues, or ask the boutique developer.
4. Share the idea and promote you world
5. There are already people who are visible on the internet, are you also? When it happens, this might be a very important source of communication
6. You have to be able to show your integrity, it is not about the money, it is about the value.
7. Be able to tell what you have done for the customer, not which activities, what made the product better acceptable for the customer
8. Be able to express what you are doing, thinking and need. Don't confuse this with nice fancy words; in this world there is lesser time to convince people.
9. Spend the time the customer needs and you need.
10. ....

Think about how it would be if you are forced to live in an isolated world. Why not be able to add value from your type of world to others.

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