Saturday, January 16, 2010

A silly question: why testing takes long?

Recently I came across an amusing post on one of professional forums dedicated to testing. The post was an elaborated description of how to convince management that testing needs so much time to complete. The author worked his way beautifully introducing parameters and formulas, ezplaining assumptions and proving theories with examples. Great job - no doubt! But... it's all useless :)

No manager will care to read it through and through. None!

The mere fact that the management needs to be convinced in things that SHALL BE OBVIOUS is a problem per se. With that multi-pages work author only supposed to solve the symptoms instead of targeting the disease root-cause.

What could be the root cause for the managers to doubt that testing team work efficiently? What managers need from testing to be in order to feel comfortable about its performance? I am sure you guessed right :) All they expect from your team is VISIBILITY. Just let them see what it takes to define strategy, make required environmental preparations, procure and learn tools, create tests, combine suites, execute tests, submit defects, work with fixed and rejected defects, and so on. I you manage to build a transparent process that everyone can watch in the motion you will never ever be asked to prove that you spend your resource cycles effectively.

Another important issue is getting management involved in taking all important decisions. Make them not just supervisors but active contributors. Share with managers all the important decisions, discuss and argue your position. Let them help you with their experience as well as let them see your professional level by providing them technical assistance. Once a decision is not just your but theirs as well they start feeling much better :)

In short, this is all you need to make sure that you are never asked that silly question - "Why does testing take so long?!"


  1. Hi Vladimir,

    I must say that its a good post. Testing by its very nature is aimed to help stakeholders make their decisions like GO or NO GO (for example). And the list that you mentioned in your post Just Let them see..... is a time consuming process but its easier said than done. At times I feel, we spend more time in doing things other than Testing and generally all the estimation techniques that I came across so far are not even close to real time as you never know when system will go down because of some planned or unplanned activity of which we were never informed.

    This post helped me to a certain extent in writing my Goals for this year

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Thanks for your kind and insightful comments! Yes. It always more diffucult to do than to say. The key to success is not making your managers savy in testing aspects but to make your work and critical decision making visible to them. For example, you decided that for testing configuration you will use only tests raked as top priority. This decision must be highlighted in your report because this is critical and your manager should have a chance to interfere.

    As for the general visibility of what testing consists of I used a detailed planning technique. At the initial phase of every project I opened my project plan template and started to fill in with my estimates. Then I went to my manager and discuss the plan. In result, we both had a clear and same idea of what we are going to do.

    The last but not least - online live metrics. We established a system that allowed managers to see how the process goes over time. It helped a lot. We saved tons of questions just with some colors and status marking in it. Write me if you want to learn more!

    Thanks again!