"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jony Jony, Yes Papa! Following Process, Yes Papa! Telling Lies, Ha ha ha!

I am 100% sure that this article would make no difference to the world because there have been better insightful articles than this about the topic that I have started to write, which didn't make much difference to the part of world I think I am living in.

I feel it is important for you to ask yourself, "Why would I want to read an article that the author is certain that it wouldn't make things around me better?' because by asking that question and continuing reading ensures that you are wasting your time because you chose to.

I conducted my public workshop on December 1st through Edista Testing - a QAI venture in Bangalore on December 1st. A couple of months ago, I had expressed my dream to go around places in India other than Bangalore and conduct my workshop on human skills of testing titled Exercises for a Testers mind - A Rapid Software Testing Approach and the dream is coming true as Edista plans to bring this workshop to your city wherever you are in India. Do not worry about the cost as long as your company can sponsor you for a day.

I challenge testing minds and I learn from them and some of the curious minds who attend the workshop largely benefit from the workshop. All audience are thrilled about the things they learn from the workshop but what makes them sad is that they have to go back and follow the process their company mandates them to follow - which at the end of the workshop they know that it doesn't add as much value as they witnessed the value that Rapid Testing adds.

How do you think they witnessed, the value that Rapid Testing adds V/S the value that their process ( IXX, CXX - Level X, SICK6 SXXXX, XXXXX, Centre of Excellence, Test Factory) adds?


This time I felt terribly challenged at the question of process and I revealed something that shocked the audience and were not willing to pose further challenge. Its exactly an year old secret that was lying in my inbox and I had shared it with very few.

Rapid Testers stand up to scrutiny and so I stand up to scrutiny in case the following information you might read, appears to be an exaggarated or made up to prove a point. It might appear so because those who dwell with those processes can never achieve it and it is close to impossible for one who believes in those to believe the following.

Here is an e-mail that I received last December from my Supervisor from a large Products + Services company of India on the last day of my job at that company.

---- Forwarded by Pradeep Soundararajan on 12/27/2006 04:29 PM -----


All the best, Pradeep.

There are learnings for all of us from the way Pradeep has conducted himself in this tenure in the team. The confidence he has shown and willingness to help others and constantly exploring for new ideas are some of the highlights. Fortunately I was also part of the team which Pradeep was associated.

One more thing I would wish to share with you all is that, he was handling XXXX (product name masked) releases for XXXX (A multi billion dollar customer name masked - who also had a test team at his end who tested the releases we made before they released to their customers ) and with proud I can say that there isn't any bug which customer found apart from what we or Pradeep found here.

On behalf of the team and on a personal note I wish him all the best in all his future endeavour .

Regards
XXXXXXXXXXXX ( Supervisor's name masked )

__ end of e-mail excerpt __

Some very important points to think and remember:

  • To remind you, this company too, is one such who believed in the above mentioned process till I helped at least some teams realize that they could achieve bigger success if they could come out of the trap they fell into and add more value to customers. No customer would say - I don't want you to add more value but I am paying you to follow XXXX process. If a customer says that, either the customer needs to be educated on testing or it is a customer who deserve to be off the business list unless the customer is willing to pay a huge price.
  • Some of you might think this post as my self marketing and might fail to learn some important lessons that your customer might want you to learn. Also if I wanted to use the above as my marketing, I wouldn't have waited to reveal it an year later.
  • Some of you might think this happened somewhere too far away from India, which is not true, because this happened in Bangalore, India.
  • Some of you might think I did *complete* testing but I admit that I know no one can completely test anything, so I did not do complete testing.
  • It was no one man Pradeep show, it was a team effort and it was achieved because I practiced the skills that James Bach and Michael Bolton helped me gain on the product I tested with the skills that I already claimed to have + the skills of the team + Exploratory Testing mixed with very little scripted testing.
  • This achievement for the company, the team and me didn't happen because we intended that to happen at the start of the project BUT we had realistic goal as a test team "To find important problems, quickly, and gather as much information as possible through our SKILLS and present them in a useful manner to help the management take informed better decision" AND NO STUPID GOAL SUCH AS "LETS MAKE A BUG FREE PRODUCT".
  • By the customer not finding any bugs other than what we found, although there was a test team at his end, doesn't say that the product was bug free. What customers looked at is value for the money he paid us, and I think he was sure, as the project progressed that he was getting a bonus. At least it helped him understand that he had to hire a better test team than us to find bugs out of what we had found.
  • It is hard for me to know what is the state of the product now but I can safely say that the 8 month duration I stayed there, there was nothing that our customer or ever his customer reported on the releases we made that we didn't know.
  • I'd like to add another important point that in order to achieve what you read above, I and the team had to break certain things that the process mandated to achieve it.
Don't ask your management or customers to read this post because both of them might start to demand more from you, which might take away your coziness you have been enjoying in testing with the process you are asked to follow. In case you are curious to share with them, be prepared to learn and practice human skills of testing and better insight into testing, out of which some of them are taught by James Bach and Michael Bolton's Rapid Software Testing and Cem Kaner and James Bach's BBST courses.

"I would say that a process is the way things happen. The Earth in orbit around the Sun is a process. In that sense, yes Rapid Testing is a process.

What Rapid Testing isn't is a set of instructions to be followed without understanding. It is not a collection of physical behaviors. It isn't even really a set of techniques, although it does feature some of those. To say
it's a skill set and mindset is to locate RST within the mind of a tester. It's a process of making sense of testing problems and reacting to them differently, as the situation demands.
" -- James Bach


"One of the hallmarks of Rapid Testing is that your work can suck less. The pointy-haired bosses can tell you what to do to some degree, but they can't supervise you every minute of every day, and they can't tell you how to think. In the "free" time that you have--those little micromoments of disposable time, for which you won't be punished because they can't watch you every moment--you can perform a quicktest, find a bug, write another line of the test tool you're working on, sneak a look at the specification you managed to photocopy, check in on your mission, befriend a developer, have a chat with another tester about where the bugs might be, cover a product just a little more deeply with just one more test... And after you've leaked a little of what you've discovered and have a few successes under your belt, maybe you can start to train your manager into expecting nuggets like that." -- Michael Bolton

Here is another evidence of high value addition that Rapid Software Testing produced to Michael Bolton's client

Here is one of the great and very insightful quote I have read about achieving the mission, "Who cares if you followed the instructions if it doesn't work when you're done?" -
Scott Barber's Dad

All I have done in this post is to complicate that quote in many words which the wise man said it in one sentence. I apologize for that.

-- Pradeep Soundararajan - http://testertested.blogspot.com - +91-98451-76817 - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com

"Pradeep's first language is not English--his first language appears to be testing." -- Michael Bolton

6 comments:

Shrini Kulkarni said...

>>>Jony Jony, Yes Papa! Following Process, Yes Papa! Telling Lies, Ha ha ha!

What a creative title ... I would quote this as several places ..

I have a rephrase --

Jony Jony, Yes Papa! Followed the Process, Yes Papa! Open Bug mangement system, So many bugs leaked from testing? Telling Lies, Ha ha ha!

Process helps management to manage something that they least *understand*. It helps them commoditize it so that it can sold on unit basis - 100 USD for execution of 25 test cases.

Above all in IT services industry (one which accounts for bigger pie of the spend in software testing), one needs organization capability that can come only from process. The testing you seem project is highly individualistic.

How may "Pradeep"s a big company having say 10000 testers afford to produce and keep them in job? How do they manage them? What do we should to the client - no metrics, no big reports? How the client will believe them.

There is a need for "Huge" change - change in the mind sets of service providers and consumers.

Give them good examples .. clients will believe

Shrini

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Shrini,

Process is being misused and abused by IT services company to jack more money from the client and yet they want to claim adding value to their clients.

Every services company website says they add great value to their clients, is that true?

We all know that isn't truth but we are keeping quiet (at least in public) because we dont want to spend time questioning them.

How may "Pradeep"s a big company having say 10000 testers afford to produce and keep them in job? How do they manage them?

You get what you ask for. IT services and product companies like Accenture and Oracle asked candidates *not* to submit fake resume because they wouldn't bother to fire and report to police - and I think they have been getting what they asked for. However, that doesn't mean or explain that good testing is happening there.

Other companies who do not explicitly state end up hiring people who fake experience.

I have set an example and can continue to set or there might be more Pradeep's who have already set but why are things not changing?

Simple, because people are cozy with what and how they are doing.

If people want to improve, they would not look for examples as a vital point to improvement but would set an example.

If people dont want to improve despite there exists examples or not, they wouldn't.

Taking myself as an example: I didn't intend to become a topper in class although I had heard many stories of the laurels people get when they are toppers and I continued to be cozy.

I intended to become a better tester each day and in that journey I found James Bach and I worked hard, so I am bettering myself at a faster pace than many other traditional testers.

I am happy I was able to recover from my so called block.

Unfortunately, I dont find people wanting or putting efforts to recover because they feel no need to do it.

In a way, if it works for their business, they are doing it right but what I think they don't know is, it is too hard to sustain this coziness for the future, which they , in my opinion are not equipped to handle.

What do we should to the client - no metrics, no big reports? How the client will believe them.

If an IT services company is educated to think deep in testing, they as customers to other people they outsource would be OK and know what to expect and in turn the other people who got the outsourced project might learn, too.

A services company himself is a customer to other services company - so they are customers too and the customers will learn what to expect and what value means.

Ajay said...

Just as Pradeep wrote these:

I intended to become a better tester each day and in that journey I found James Bach and I worked hard, so I am bettering myself at a faster pace than many other traditional testers.
***** end of Pradeep's comment*****
I have found Pradeep and I'm bettering in my quest of learning continuously at a quick pace.

-Ajay
ajay184f@yahoo.com

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Ajay,

Thanks!

I wish I can be of more help to such people like you.

Mili said...

Hi Pradeep,

Very insightful. You have very revolutionary thoughts, and I can say that I have definitely been inspired. After meeting and working with very experienced testers, who dote on processes (but that might be because they are old-school, and find it hard to change their ways now), your article only confirms what I had started to believe in. I am all for exploratory and session based testing, as that does indeed provide more value (in my terms uncover hidden bugs in less time). But proving that the processes are not as important is incredibly difficult in a country where nearly everything works off a process (UK). Your previous article 'Educating customers on testing' has given me a few pointers on where to start :).
After a very long time, I feel excited again about my job.
Thank you.... and keep the food for thought coming!
Mili.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Mili,

Thanks for your comment. I am looking forward to more interaction with you.

After a very long time, I feel excited again about my job.
Thank you.... and keep the food for thought coming!


I shall keep it going!