"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.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Great testing stories from India (Created by Not Following Any "Best Practices")

I would be presenting my workshop on Rapid Software Testing Excersises + a paper at Asia Pacific Software Testing Conference at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia between Feb 24 to Feb 29, 2008. I wish to thank Vishal Manghani of Processworks Sdn Bhd for the invite.

So, here goes the abstract for the paper I am presenting at the conference:

Great testing stories from India (Created by Not Following Any "Best Practices")

Authored and Presented by Pradeep Soundararajan, Consulting Tester - Satisfice Inc & Test Manager, TriVium Systems, India

When I was 4 years old, I used to eat sand (not because my mother didn't like me eating sand nor for the reason of poverty but as a child, I think, I liked exploring sand as another food option for me) . It was my mother who helped me know my act of eating sand during child hood and referred to me as 'naughty' during childhood.

I could eat sand without knowing it was called 'sand' and I could be naughty without knowing I was called 'naughty'.

When I started my career as a tester and found the first few bugs, I was told by a senior to do more such "negative testing" to find more such bugs. I asked him, "What is negative testing?" and he replied, "Whatever you did to find these bugs is negative testing".

I could do negative testing without knowing that someone refers to what I am doing as 'negative testing'.

Years later, I blogged that I still didn't understand what negative testing means but ideas of what it could be.

It took me a couple of years to learn that I do many things without knowing how someone calls it and then learned from others how some parts of the community I live in calls it.

All these stories indicate that we might be doing great things without knowing it. What is important to us is doing great things and not necessarily knowing the names but it is good to know the names of the great things we do when we intend to communicate with other people.

Anything that works great for me could make you fail badly. For instance, I can live a 100 years eating curd rice and pickle but you may die falling sick of it OR what medicines that could save me from a headache could kill you because although the common problem we might have is headache, the actual root cause is different .

If you disagree to it, 'best practices' fit you well.

If you agree to it, then I am sure you understand why doctors prescribe different medicines for the same person, the next time he /she gets a headache.

In this presentation, you would hear some of the great stories of Indian software testing that fortunately I was a part of and played a role in helping teams achieve the success. What might surprise you is the fact that those teams who did not follow 'best practices' tasted success that teams who claim to follow 'best practices', dream to achieve.

If you are going to listen to these stories in my presentation, I warn you to be aware that you *cannot* see the same success if you try doing things we did.

Welcome to context driven testing!

I would not be able to reveal anymore details about the presentation unless I am done with it but I welcome arguments, questions or success stories that you might want to share with my readers. I think I should be able to publish the slides for the same, post my presentation.

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

"The test doesn't find the bug. A human finds the bug, and the test plays a role in helping the human find it."


9 comments:

Vijay said...

Pradeep, It would be very interesting to see those success stories from India.
I also worked on agile project systems (if I am not wrong - systems that do not follow "Best practices" what are applicable for most of the projects)
So I would be more interested in knowing key strategies you applied that made projects successful without so called "best practices".

Wish you great success for the conference..

Regards,
Vijay
Software Testing Help

sangeeta said...

Hi Pradeep,

I would like to ask you few questions -
1. What are the parameters of success?
2. How do you say you or your teams have achieved what 'best practices' followers disn't achieve?

I am asking this because I am sure as soon as one claims this there will be many 'best practices' followers who will vouch for the strategy and success. In my organisation the most successful project is one where they have more than 20,000 test cases of which more than 7,000 are automated. And you try to tell this to the manager and he will simply not agree. You try to tell this to some other person and they have such faith in this manager that he is recommended for all other projects.
One success story sets the strategy for various other projects.

3. Along with the mindset of the people comes a very important problem - resourcing. What kind of resources are needed for this "success" team? How should they be trained? How should work be allocated to them? And how should the progress measured?
If the team is not like-minded there could be major problems leading to failure of the project.

---------

Also, you wrote - "If you are going to listen to these stories in my presentation, I warn you to be aware that you *cannot* see the same success if you try doing things we did."
Is there a typo-error here? I think what you wanted to say is that "you *can* see..."

Shrini Kulkarni said...

I can think of one situation where the term best practice seems to have some relevance and utility.

SAP Industry Best Practices.
These are additional confugurations and master data set up applied on the top of base version of SAP. Accordingly, we can have health care, Manufacturing, Banking, Chemical industry best practices packages applied on core SAP ERP system.
It is one way to get to quick nand working prototype specially configured to a special industry verticle.

http://help.sap.com/content/bestpractices/industry/bestp_industry_automotive.htm


This the first and only time so far where I said to myself -- this makes some sense.

What do you say?

Shrini

Shrini Kulkarni said...

Best practices ... I have developed an acronym to describe the pros and cons of using them - NKS: Neighbor’s Kid syndrome.

Watch out for a blog entry on explaining what NKS is. This is preview so that you can come up with your own explanation…

Give it a try explain "Neighbor’s Kid syndrome" and how it relates to our industry's fascination about best practices...

You also would want to probe best practice in terms – who says so? How do you know? What is a practice? What about good, better, bad, worst practices?

Shrini

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Sangeeta,

I would like to ask you few questions -
1. What are the parameters of success?


It varies from project to project and context to context.


2. How do you say you or your teams have achieved what 'best practices' followers disn't achieve?

a) We questioned what we are hired for.

b) We questioned our client what he expects us to do.

c) We questioned ourselves if we have the skills to do that.

d) We questioned our manager if we could have the freedom to do things to meet the mission that might be against some process rules.

e) We questioned, constantly, to check if we are getting close to meeting the mission.

f) We achieved the mission set for us.

g) We asked for another mission to work on.

i) Such things cannot be listed as points.

3. Along with the mindset of the people comes a very important problem - resourcing. What kind of resources are needed for this "success" team? How should they be trained? How should work be allocated to them? And how should the progress measured?

If you can find people who are passionate and willing to learn to become better at the craft then things would follow on its own.

Those who wants to become better at the craft will know to train themselves.

Give them a mission and let them do the allocation.

If the mission is clear then the progress can be monitored or assessed but not measured.

All of my answers are thought and written in some contexts that I see in common between me and many other Indian testers and it might or might not make sense to you.

I think what you wanted to say is that "you *can* see..."

No, I did wanted to say *cannot* - because I don't offer success creation formula for a testing team -

a) because it doesn't exist.

b) because that's what people who are fans of best practices sell.

c) because I want to help the craft get better and practical.

sangeeta said...

Ok...I got your point Pradeep especially regarding *cannot*.

Markus said...

Pradeep wrote:
"c) We questioned ourselves if we have the skills to do that."

Muahahaha! I'm writing this reply with a smile of triumph on my face.

So you were successful by NOT copying the behaviour of your testing ants.
I wonder if all your teammembers read your blog or if you have told them the story and asked about their opinion and whether they would ever start a job they have found to be "impossible" to finish.

Nevertheless, I'd like to see your slides on the web (in a format different from ppt and doc ;) )
after the talk.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Markus,

Questioning the skills we need to learn is not a bad idea and I don't know what makes you laugh at that.

I said we questioned but didn't say we stopped.

If you try to connect the ants to everything I write, you would never get to understand the purpose of the post. I am concerned that you are failing to understand things because I see you spending your time at my blog and I wish to value your time.

I hope you help me value your time.

Suhas said...

Pradeep said,

2. How do you say you or your teams have achieved what 'best practices' followers disn't achieve?

a) We questioned what we are hired for.

b) We questioned our client what he expects us to do.

c) We questioned ourselves if we have the skills to do that.

d) We questioned our manager if we could have the freedom to do things to meet the mission that might be against some process rules.

e) We questioned, constantly, to check if we are getting close to meeting the mission.

f) We achieved the mission set for us.

g) We asked for another mission to work on.

i) Such things cannot be listed as points.

Hey Pradeep,
Nice post. But in the above reply how are you sure that the "Best Practices" followers (in my view, Process Oriented companies) do not ask these and many more questions?
As much as I know or have experienced, the "Best Practices" followers do ask questions like this.
Actually I didn't understand the answer you gave for Sangeetha's second question. I would be happy if you could elaborate more on your answer.