Take the ‘Crappy Work’ Litmus Test

We’ve placed a ban on crappy work within my test team. From now on, we declare that the testing team will refuse to do crappy work.

The challenge is in knowing how your doing good work or crappy work?  This is why I’ve created this simple 5 minute ‘Crappy Work’™ ² test to help any tester to figure out if you’re doing crappy work or not. ¹

1) Do I fully understand what I’ve been asked to do?

2) Why am I doing this task?

3) Who will benefit, and I have spoken to them ?

4) Am I doing this task simply because its part of the process?

5) If I think it’s crappy work, how can I make it valuable?

I’m sure there are plenty more ‘crappy work’  questions that would be useful to add, but my 5 minutes is up.

Why not share your ‘crappy work’ litmus tests? 

¹ Maverick Tester takes no responsibility if you take this quiz and continue to do crappy work

² It’s a 5 minute quiz because it took me 5 minutes to think it up. It’s trademarked so I can sell you a certificate in passing the ‘Crappy Work’ test, thereby making a whole lot of money out of it.

Growing your own

So, I’m sitting here in my office on a beautiful  Australian spring day. The sun is shining brightly, the air is slightly fresh sending wafts of scent from the spring flowers. Its a good time to be alive and its a good time to be thinking of growth and change.

Potatoes in Spring

True to form, I trotted down to the local garden center and bought back a truck load of seeds and ideas on what I can do in the garden. I feel good this year, the potatoes are growing well, and I’ve managed to grow snow peas for the first time. Having invested a good amount of time in the garden, I feel content enough to sit in my office and allow myself to explore ideas on software testing and training.

And I’ve come up with the crazy idea, wonderful idea. For some time I’ve wanted to invest in online training in software testing. Its a model that I think will suit me well. I live far far away from the rest of the world and as much I as enjoy meeting new testers from around the globe, continuous travel is not for me.

To date, I’ve struggled with the concept of online learning. When I learn, I like to get my hands gritty, experience the stuff I’m wrestling with. With my online coaching, I make sure I include a task of some sort but thats one on one. Is it possible to offer online experiential learning to many people?

And then I read about these guys at Venture Lab. The courses are highly experiential & require collaboration to succeed. I sniffed a model that I could possibly work with.

But I’m taking it one step further. I want to make the students the designers of the course. Its the students who will work out what needs to be learned and how that will be achieved, and how they will know they achieved it. There will be some external structure, perhaps in the form of exercises, some philosophies to abide by, but basically, its the students who will dictate the content & the pace. In fact a lot of these ideas are from the coaching model James Bach & I have worked on holding onto the concept that learning requires real desire from the student, and to do that the student needs to dictate the learning (with the teacher offering space and direction to learn).

I see this courses as being a permission giver. We’re so drilled to think of learning as something we have to sign up for, like its impossible for us to learn outside a course. In this way, I’m helping overcome that little hurdle and get into some real meaty learning.

I’m very excited about these ideas and what will come of them. I’m not sure where they will lead and I guess that’s half the fun! If you want to join me on the crazy, wacky journey, feel free to contact me on Skype at charretts, or else add a comment below.

I’ll be adding information on this model as it progresses.

Exclusive cartoon – see it here first !

Here is an exclusive, never seen before cartoon, created especially for the upcoming ebook “If I were a testcase, I would…”

As you may know, this e-book contains over 300 memorable and funny responses to the Twitter challenge started by the Daily Testing Tip prompting testers to complete the phrase

“If I were a test case I would…”

The book will be available for download for free. We are still looking for more sponsors, so please if you or your company wishes to advertise in this book, please check out the advertising details at Daily Testing Tip The closing date for advertising is December 10th 2010. So be quick.

All proceeds from advertising will go the Chandru Fund to help raise funds for Chandrashekar B.N (Chandru) , a software tester in our community that has been recently  diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Cartoon Tester (Andy Glover) has created some of his memorable cartoons into this great little ebook.

Here’s a glimpse of what’s to come…..

So if you haven’t joined in the fun why not do so now?  If you were a test case, what would you do???

Next Tuesday we will be holding a special #dttip challenge on twitter, so look out for that.  So please give generously with your ideas and contribute to the challenge.

Mind mapping your testing strategy

I recently was asked to do a talk on software testing for a group of iPhone developers.  I decided to speak to them at a practical level and talk about how I approach software testing, as I wanted them to understand that there are different ways you can perform software testing other than resorting to heavily documented process and formal test scripts.

As part of my preparation I decided to use FreeMind to create a mind map of some of my testing strategies. Like many in the testing community I find I rely heavily on mnemonics to remember heuristics and oracles. I like Parimala Shankaraiah’s post on the Power of Mnemonics and decided to create something similar but in a mind map form.

Most of the information is not new and has been around the testing community for a while. As I started brain dumping the information, I got really excited about the map. I knew that not only was it helpful for the talk, but for me personally, it provided a great tool to remind me of different approaches I can take to testing. I’ve inserted due credit, but if I’ve left anyone out or got it wrong, please let me know and I can update it.

In fact I’m so thrilled with the results, I’m going to share it. So here it is.

Better than Beta? You Betcha!

Software testing has gone through a few renaissances in the last twenty years or so. From the dark ages of the waterfall process, there has emerged new theories, schools and test tools. We even have online clubs and networks.

One noticeable difference between then and now is  testing was traditionally part of development. Now, most larger companies recognise the need for some form of testing team.

So don’t you think it’s strange when it comes to software testing, startups still remain in the dark ages of developers testing their own code and then skipping straight to a beta test? The rationale is that it’s an easier, faster, cheaper approach than employing a software tester.

I ashamed to say that until recently I bought into this misconception. Its only when I started doing some research into beta testing, that I discovered the amount of work and effort it took to. So I’m doing a Mythbuster session.

Myth 1: Beta Testing is easy

Beta Testing is hard work. Like any major task it needs planning and effort. Successful Beta Testing takes lots of planning and lots of effort. Upfront analysis into the number of Beta testers required and how they will be sourced.  How much time is necessary for the Beta Testing,  how many releases will you have (yes, you need more than one!).  How will Beta testers sign up and will their feedback need to be secure? How will you keep track of the bugs found, and how much time will you need to support the effort?  There is no point having feedback from 200 Beta testers but not having the time to analyse the information, let alone fix the problems. What tools will you need to keep track of the Beta test?  These are just some questions that will need to be answered before you can begin your beta testing phase.

A couple developers talk about their experiences of Beta Testing..Joel Spolsky – founder of FogCreek Software and SyneRyder Journal

Myth 2: Beta Testing is Quick

The length of time beta testing takes depends on the complexity of the software being tested and the number of releases you plan to have. Typical estimates range from four to ten weeks depending it seems on your experience of Beta Testing.  One constant that remains, is that beta testing always takes twice as long as you estimate. That’s because one of the difficulties with Beta Testing is your dependence on people who don’t owe you anything and in that sense are under no obligation to meet any of your deadlines.

Myth 3: Beta Testing is Free

The greatest myth of all.   The man hours spent in planning, setting up, monitoring makes beta testing a time consuming task. Time far better used by a developer in turning the software into a great product. The end result is your developer is distracted and performing tasks that many software testers can perform quicker and cheaper. On top of that, testers know how to test software really well, something you can never guarantee from a Beta tester.

Software Testers do it better

Software testing has really matured in recent years, and there are many ways to provide quality testing that meet the unique demands that startups face. Software testing does not necessarily equate with streams of documents and restrictive process. You only have to look at techniques such as Rapid Software Testing by James Bach and open source tools to know that there are many alternatives to traditional software testing. There are so many good software testers out there, available for hire on a freelance basis, it makes these age old myths about software testing and startups, a bit passed their use by date.

It’s time for startups to do themselves a favour. Hire a software tester, even for a couple of days. It’s worth every cent…


Is document a dirty word in Exploratory Testing?

I went on James Bach’s Rapid Software Testing (RST) course because some of the concepts and ideas that I had read about exploratory testing and RST appealed to me.   I liked the idea that central to testing is a critical and context-driven approach and I also wanted to put intelligence back into testing.

I was curious though, as on some blogs I read it appeared that exploratory testing and traditional testing were mutually exclusive. You are either a champion of traditional testing techniques and provided multiple test documents or you’re in the maverick camp which threw out all documentation and just ‘tested’.

I was relieved to learn that for rapid software testing, this is just not true. I was relieved because I LIKE DOCUMENTS.  I like them because in certain circumstances I find them helpful.

Because I have to confess, sometimes I forget to test parts of an application. Even worse, sometimes I don’t want to test the hard areas.  

A document gets me to test all areas and to test the parts that I really don’t want to test. It helps me remember the results of what I’ve tested because sometimes I need to know that information.

What James Bach reminded me, was that the ultimate goal of testing is very simple. It’s to test an application with intelligence and thoughtfulness. The goal is not to create endless documents on testing.  Instead, documents can sometimes be handy tools to assist you in testing.

I don’t think I will ever totally give up on my documents. They are my friends. However, I will make sure that in future, these friends can stand the test of relevance, accuracy and brevity. 

The pure joy of innovation…

I went along to a networking event last night, run by the Innovic – http://www.innovic.com.au/home/ in Melbourne. A great event and that wasn’t just the cocktails! I got the opportunity to meet interesting people involved in all aspects of innovation in Melbourne. I think every once in a while its good to get your head out of your own space and realise that there are some exceptionally creative and clever people out there. It reminds me why I provide software testing services to such a small and not so lucrative area of the market . I get the opportunity to work with people who design, incubate and serve great designers and developers. Its inspiring to meet people so passionate about what they do.

I think software testers can provide real benefit to startup companies by providing that all essential third party independent perspective before it gets to the first customer. After all, first impressions count for an awful lot these days.

It was also interesting the note the power of personal contact. Sometimes I get so caught up with online promotion, I forget that talking and communicating one on one can be more effective than endless hours of online promotion, and its a lot more fun. Try shutting down the computer now and then and meet up with some like minded individuals. Who knows what you may get out of it….

So, why do you software test?