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Archive for the 'Testing' Category

Scrum Videos

Posted by Mike on 30th January 2009

I posted this over at Effectual Working, but thought I would add it here too.

I have been doing some research on agile software development methodologies, specifically Scrum, and found the following videos.

Posted in Management & Business, Productivity, Project Management, Software & Computers, Testing | No Comments »

Metrics – Gaming the System

Posted by Mike on 4th April 2006

This is not a new problem to establishing meaningful metrics.  I call it “Gaming the System.”  This behavior has been around since people started measuring the performance of other people.  Those being measured will always find a way to make their numbers look good.

I know someone who used to be a cashier for Kmart. They had a metric for average scan time.  Her time was the best in the store; because she figured out how to make her numbers look good.  She would arrange all the customer’s items with the bar codes ready.  Then, she would quickly scan each item and hit the subtotal button.  At first, the other cashiers were angry with her, saying that she made them look bad.  However, management caught on to what she was doing to get great numbers.  Guess what?  They trained all the other cashiers to do the same thing and the store’s numbers became the best in the district!

Yesterday, I was at Sears buying a dehumidifier. After making my purchase, I went to merchandise pickup.  I scanned my receipt and my name was added to the queue.  I looked at the screen and to my delight; the average wait time was 2.20 minutes.  Great!  I will be out of here in no time!  WRONG. I watched the worker and saw quickly that he was “Gaming the System.”  Once orders were added to the queue, he would take his hand-held device and mark all the orders complete.  Then, everyone would wait.  The metric looked great, but didn’t reflect reality.

Sears probably spent some serious money to develop this system, including lovely computerized voice prompts.  They probably use this average service time metric to determine staffing levels.  I can tell from personal experience that this store is probably under-staffed.  I didn’t have my watch on, so I don’t have the exact time of my wait, but it was much longer than the 1.40 minutes that was recorded. (I would guess that I waited 20 to 25 minutes.)

Sears could have the customer indicate that they received their item as the event that clocks the actual service time.  (Perhaps by scanning their receipt again.)  That would eliminate the “game.”  In this scenario, the customer starts and stops the clock.  (Also, the worker didn’t check my receipt. They probably have a shrink problem too.)

“Gaming the system” is easy to avoid.  You just have to observe the system in action and make adjustments.  Don’t set your metrics program to reward speed, unless you have an independent way to ensure accuracy.  Set it up to reward accuracy.  I can tell you one thing.  The workers at this particular Sears Merchandise Pickup area were not motivated to hustle.

Posted in Management & Business, Project Management, Software & Computers, Testing | No Comments »

Software Testing: Education and Certification

Posted by Mike on 30th December 2005

I did some research today to summarize some options for software testing Education and Certification. To begin with, here is James Bach’s thought on certification called Against Certification. I concur with his analysis, but I also realize the practical realities of the corporate world. Certification can help you there. And, if you do it right, you can get some good education by getting a certification.

Formal training is available from several different vendors. I recommend the following approach.

Reading Books
Testing Computer Software by Cem Kamer

Lessons Learned in Software Testing by Cem Kaner, James Bach, and Bret Pettichord.

Online Course
Black Box Software Testing – This is the course that I will be taking my QA & Testing Team through during the first half of 2006. It is free and available from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Classroom Training
Any of the training referenced in the Certification section below.

Introduction to Testing for Business Analysts – I have taken a course from ESI on Requirements Gathering and found that their courses give you good foundational knowledge on the subject. I expect that their testing course would do the same.

In this course, you’ll learn the necessary skills to construct effective test strategies and test plans to verify and validate requirements—enabling you to deliver the quality your business demands. You will also be able to communicate the rationale for and value of planning and conducting the various necessary reviews and inspections. You’ll gain an understanding of black box and glass box (white box) testing from a business analyst’s perspective—and you’ll know how to communicate with those who perform the systems analyst function.

Software Testing for Better Project Management – There is some overlap between this course and Introduction to Testing for Business Analysts, but the main objective of the course is different.

In this course, you will discover why and how to integrate testing throughout the software development process in order to uncover bugs, ensure performance, enhance quality and lower costs. Using a set of integrated classroom exercises beginning with requirements validation and ending with implementation, this course demonstrates how management of testing activities relates to the life cycle of projects involving software development of projects.

There are two main organizations that offer certification programs in the software testing arena. Those are: ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) and IIST (International Institute for Software Testing). At this time, I do not have a specific recommendation as to which certification program is best.

There are two levels of certification from ISTQB: Foundation Level and Advanced Level.

Software Quality Engineering is a company that offers testing certification courses. Software Testing Certification is their Certified Tester – Foundation Level Training course. The certification exam can be taken after this three-day course.

To qualify to sit for an Advanced Level exam, you must:

  • Have five years of verifiable full-time work experience in software or systems testing, development, quality assurance, engineering or a related field; and
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution in computer science or a related field may be substituted for up to two years of work experience; and
  • Hold an ISTQB Certified Tester – Foundation Level certificate.

Two different certifications are offered by IIST. Certification training is offered by IIST.

Certified Software Test Professional (CSTP)

  • CSTP is an education-based certification, based on a Body of Knowledge that covers areas essential for every test professional to effectively perform their job in testing projects.
  • Two requirements must be satisfied before the CSTP certification can be granted. These are: Formal Education Requirement (10 days and written exams) and Job Experience Requirement (one year). More information is available on their website.

Certified Test Manager (CTM)

  • The CTM Certification was developed to fill the gap in the management skills required by test managers and test leads to effectively manage the test process, the test project and the test organization.
  • Two requirements must be satisfied before the CTM certification can be granted. These are: Formal Education Requirement (10 days and written exams) and Job Experience Requirement (3 years testing and 1 year lead/management). More information is available on their website.

Posted in Software & Computers, Testing | 1 Comment »

New Category: Testing

Posted by Mike on 2nd December 2005

Beginning in November, I was given a new project at work. This project is concerned with establishing a QA/Testing practice with the purpose of testing a new vendor-written policy administration system. It is a big undertaking. My team is established and we have completed most of the project planning. Work is underway to select automated testing tools. Right now, we are getting demos from the finalists. We are also starting to define the testing requirements, prior to creating test cases. This is a challenge, as we only have a rough demo system, the requirements documents, and our business knowledge to work with.

In preparation for this role, I got involved with the Des Moines Area Quality Assurance Association, or DAQAA. The meetings have helped me learn something about testing as a competency.

I have also been doing some reading, on the internet, from people in the testing profession. Click here for a list of the bookmarks I have collected so far.

Since we are starting with a low-level understanding of formalized testing as a competency, I looked for some training on testing. I came across a course that I think will help us with our task. It is called A Course in Black Box Testing by Cem Kaner and James Bach.

Posted in Testing | No Comments »