Testing is Rocket Science Not Brain Surgery

Almost all of the World's Greatest Accomplishments Were The Result of Great Planning!

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Test Planning the Marine Way: “Direct and Coordinate Action” by Ed Cook

October 25th, 2010 · Testing From The Field

In the Back to Basics post, we defined planning with 5 key functions, and we broadly defined how each function relates to Test Planning. Let’s dive deeper into the first point – Direct and coordinate action.

For Test Planning, we can refine this point to mean that we will define the normal process of testing for the project, in a manner that will explain what testers are doing on a day-to-day basis. In some cases, you will need to adjust your plan based on your organization. However, you should also use the planning process to drive needed organizational changes, if they are required to improve your plan. Even if you don’t get the changes at first, by bringing them up early, you lay the groundwork.

“Command and control can also be viewed as the process of adapting an organization to its surroundings”
—Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication (MCDP) 5, Planning
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“Embedded Testing” by Howard Clark

October 24th, 2010 · Testing From The Field

The soldier in his boxers was concerned about this picture going public and the ramifications on his continued enlistment. An unfortunate fear by anyone that has someone with a bird’s-eye view into their day-to-day work habits. But I would assume the photographer who took the picture was happy to see the soldier’s dedication to the mission and for preserving his life.

Do you trust the integrity of your development team to provide the access to the application that is needed for a tester to accurately discover, document and drive root cause analysis of defects? If the seeds of mistrust have been sown and there is a general lack of empathy between testing and development you can probably stop reading here. But if your organization has actually been able to avoid this fate then the adoption of something equivalent to the embedded reporting used by the United States military is a viable option. While conspiracy theorists point to the idea that embedded reporting allows the military to turn unbiased reporting into a propaganda machine for its own purposes, most embedded journalists in our country’s two most current conflicts feel quite differently. Most have come to say that they were able to more effectively utilize their pens by leaning on the resources of the military to get them to where they needed to be.
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From the Field: “Windows Perfmon and HP LoadRunner, you get what you pay for” by Howard Clark

September 24th, 2010 · Performance Testing

Instead of extolling the virtues of Windows Performance Monitor or Perfmon, a free tool included in the majority of MS Windows installs I will focus on what you need to do in order to find any of the aforementioned virtues in the first place.

Start here first:

I have spent an entire day troubleshooting why I couldn’t get certain objects to allow me to add their counters from a remote machine. So if you need some guidance I hope this helps in your search, hopefully I’ll be coming back to this post with a complete dissection of what happened from beginning to end with the issue I was having.

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Test Planning the Marine Way: “Back to Basics” by Ed Cook

September 23rd, 2010 · Testing From The Field

Table of contents for Test Planning the Marine Way

  1. Test Planning the Marine Way: “Back to Basics” by Ed Cook

“Planning involves projecting our thoughts forward in time and space to influence events before they occur rather than merely responding to events as they occur. This means contemplating and evaluating potential decisions and actions in advance.”
—Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication (MCDP) 5, Planning

With the trend to standardize testing practices, most organizations now require a Test Strategy and a Test Plan (name, of course, dependant on the organization). Most organizations use a template to help write those documents, and all too often, the result is often a document nobody fully reads, nobody remembers, and often, that testers find themselves in conflict with as they actually start executing.

With that baseline, we have plenty of room for improvement.

I refer to the MCDP5 , for several reasons:
· The Marine Corps, as an organization, has a great deal of interest and experience in growing leadership, management, and planning capabilities.
· The Marine Corps has a long institutional history to draw experience from.
· The document is a fantastic read for anyone in management or interested in management, and many of its facets translate reasonably well to business planning.

MCDP 5 defines the key functions of planning as:
· Direct and coordinate actions.
· Develop a shared situational awareness.
· Generate expectations about how actions will evolve and how they will affect the desired outcome.
· Support the exercise of initiative.
· Shape the thinking of planners.
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“At What Cost Will You Pursue Performance?” by Howard Clark

September 16th, 2010 · Performance Testing

The stats of the finest example of engineering on the planet

The Bugatti Veyron SuperSport:
Top Speed – 267 Mph
Cost – $1.9 million plus
Running at Top Speed – Tires have a life of 37 miles, replacement costs $25K plus for tires, $50K forged alloy wheels.
Running at Top Speed – Fuel lasts 12 minutes, making any meaningful trip unsustainable.
Annual Maintenance – In the area of $21K

An absolutely thrilling example of excess and a cautionary tale of how the pursuit of performance can be more costly than the benefits. At an estimated $384 million in research and development costs the pursuit of flight worthy speeds in a land going vehicle have proven to be less than lucrative for the company. I can’t think of another one-hit wonder that comes close to exhausting this level of engineering effort and technological firsts. You would have to delve into failed DoD projects funded by a superpower to reach these levels of spending for a single purpose endeavor like this, and keep in mind that the DoD effort would have been for national defense!

I’m a lover of the automobile so my intent isn’t to rant against the existence of this car, I love the idea that we live in a world that can produce such things. My message is that your ERP/CRM/LIS, external website or internet app is not a Bugatti, as wonderful as it may be. Your objective in conducting your performance testing is to reduce costs, a mantra that should be adopted by the test effort itself.

One of the most effective strategies I have seen implemented for achieving savings while getting the value and results you desire is by the adoption of a Software Test Automation Center of Excellence (STA CoE). The Bugatti Veyron is a product of the relentless pursuit of perfection, fueled by the desire to make a record-breaking statement to the world of having the fastest production vehicle. While I’m sure the mission statement driving your IT project is comparable, the tack you take cannot and should not match that of Bugatti.
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