Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Looking at afterthoughts

With customer reported defects in their inbox, tester have this sense of "if only we could have done this too", "why did we miss that?", "i though we'd tested that". Its a mad scramble to find an explanation when things get uglyOften at the release time, the opposite is true. The feeling is "I know i did;nt get to that, but it not important", "I know its not tested to my satisfaction, but its too late to holdup a release now, should have raised this earlier", "the test data is not comprehensive, customer data may uncover more issues"Looking at hind-side, the the emotive and tense aspects are overlooked. With the count down to release time ticking, the challenge is to get the risks covered. Testers often overlook minor aspects of the product Being in the lowest end of the "software food chain", its the testing time that most of the other entities in the food chain eatup. Again and again, we hear this around our cubicles and meeting room, "its taking more than expected to complete this feature, but its critical". The routine activity done under these circumstances are "lets take up few more days", and the "few more days" come at the cost of testing time. Of course the delay in project is not affordable since we cant miss the market!.In these days of agile & iterative development, a lot is being discussed about the importance of testing early and getting testers involved early in the development process. Better said than done? May be, maybe not!
The projects I've worked on have for past few years have a structure with a development manager looking at development activities, a test manager on the testing activities and a project manager managing the project timelines and external liason required by the project. The project manger often holds the key for success of the project and the effective delivery of the project depends on the effectiveness of the project manager. Project manager do not have anyone reporting to him/her. This person's primary responsibility is to maintain the timelimes, make sure everyone in the project adheres to the timelines, look out for possible risks and escalate issues. Often with the prior experience in development teams, the project managers unfortunately champions the cause of development team often at the expense of testing team. The schedules prepared by project manager puts overlay emphesis on development delivery and ignores the fact that testing resources can be optimally in an iterative developmment mode. The schedule prepared by the project manager turns out to be a waterfall method that leaves little time for the testing team.
Of course there are project managers who considers themselves as the independent authority and creates the project plan with optimal utilization of all the resources in the project. A project manager stern on the timelines are the ones with successful project delivery.

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