Stop Testing – Start Thinking

Throughout my career I have observed numerous organizations all looking for the ‘silver bullet’ to solve all their product quality problems.

News Flash: There is no ‘silver bullet’.  Solving product quality problems can only begin when organizations “Stop Testing and Start Thinking”.

Stop Testing - Start Thinking

Do not get me wrong, testing is an essential part of all product development projects; however, teams that fail to think through their testing needs are destined to fail by delivering ‘buggy’ products that do not meet the needs of the consumer and ultimately have an adverse impact on the organization’s revenue potential.

Teams must know who will do the testing, what testing is required, when to test, where to test (environment) and how to test.

So what is the answer?  Is the solution to blindly mimic what has worked for another organization?

Generally speaking, the answer is not that simple.  In reality, a solution that works for one organization should not be adopted without first understanding more about the people, process and tools ‘recipe’ that was used and how it helped address the organization’s specific product quality problems.

The following areas are where common mistakes are made by many organizations.

Process

Uncertain about the testing methodology to adopt, organizations latch onto the hottest thing trending without understanding what problems need to be addressed and how the choices they’ve made contribute to solving problems.  Perhaps the only thing worse than this is when the team is not aligned on how to address the product verification & validation challenges.

Examples of some common mistakes:

  1. No understanding of how to do testing for Agile projects
  2. Believing TDD (Test Driven Development) solves all testing needs
  3. Unaware of the various types of system testing requirements

Anarchy rules in the absence of a process that is understood and in use by the entire organization.

Tools

Selecting tools before understanding the needs of the team, how these tools will improve the effectiveness of the team or how well they map to the organization’s testing processes.   Tools that do not integrate well with others will adversely impact the team’s ability to quickly assess / address quality problems.

Examples of some common mistakes:

  1. Ineffective tools selection / deployment process contributing to increased costs, project delays and no real return on investment
  2.  Selecting the wrong technology for test automation and / or automating tests too early

The best tools are not always the most expensive tools, but those that satisfy the needs of the cross-functional team.

People

Failing to enable skilled teams by providing them with a process and the tools required for them to be effective.  In addition, failing to invest in the skills development and training of the team-members on an ongoing basis. Ongoing training is important to motivate / retain resources and optimize the effectiveness of the team.

Examples of some common mistakes:

  1. Expecting resources to be highly efficient despite being asked to use tools inappropriate for the job and to follow an ineffective process
  2. No time allocated for professional development, resulting in team members skills becoming outdated and resource retention issues

Rust, rot and erosion will develop where care and maintenance is ignored.

Bottom line is that teams need to “Start Thinking” before attacking any product quality problem.  Time deploying effective solutions to enable your team will significantly improve the success of the organization and reduce the need to “Stop Testing” in the future.

Scott Acker

About Scott Acker

Scott Acker is VP Operations - Central Canada at PQA Testing, and has 20+ years experience in the IT industry. Scott has worked around the world, in Canada, USA, China, Singapore, India, Australia and Europe, as a leader, mentor, and coach of local and globally distributed teams to create high performing, motivated departments that achieve bottom line impact. Scott is a highly effective executive engineering manager adept at bringing quality and testing to the top of the conversation and driving the changes required to make it second nature. LinkedIn Profile
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