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Why do we make testing as complex as we do?

  • 14/10/2011
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

I’m afraid this will not be the most popular blogpost that I ever wrote. But I’ll post it anyway. In my opinion, we make testing far too complex. Let me explain.

Let’s take a look at product risk assessments. In different test methods we can find descriptions about how to perform these. I’m not going to play the ‘blame-the-name-game’, but before you know it you’re juggling with test goals, risk classes, test features, quality attributes, risk priority, cluster matrix, quality characteristics (is that the same as quality attributes?), risk mitigation, aggregate risk rating (with rating scales of course). Luckily, it all comes together in the cluster card. I have read chapters about test strategy and product risk assessments that I didn’t understand. Maybe I’m not smart enough, despite my university degree and nearly 20 years of experience in testing, QA, process improvement and requirements.

But what’s the problem with this? First of all I think we are often incomprehensible for people outside of testing. And to be honest: we need people outside of testing for a good product risk assessment. When I talk to the architect or database administrator I expect him to explain whatever he wants in terminology I understand. We should be able to do the same with our stakeholders. However, when we make our methods and techniques as complex as we do, we can’t explain them to our stakeholders anymore. Besides this, using a complex method or technique, takes more time compared to a simple method or technique.

So, do we really need a complex method or technique? Or, why do we make methods and techniques this complex? Because we try to catch the complexity we face in practice in our methods and techniques. But are we able to do that? Or do we complex things unnecessarily? Let’s face it, reality is far too complex to always provide applicable methods and techniques. We will always need our personal skills to do the right thing in practice. That’s why the most experienced testers and test managers are more successful than those that only got there ISTQB-certificates.

My own product risk assessments? I found a way of doing these that’s easy to understand and explain. And I adjust it to every specific situation I’m in. It works for me. Are you interested in how Ido my product risk assessments? It’s so simplified, that I won’t even present on it at Eurostar. But catch up with me in Manchester and I’ll tell you about it. And if you think ‘it can’t be that easy’, yes, it can! As long as you know how to adjust to what the situation asks for, and to be able to do that, you need to understand the complex approaches. Yes, of course, but please don’t turn them into techniques and methods. I hope to see you at my presentation: ‘Tester, get out of your cave’ on Wednesday the 23th November in Manchester.

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