the testing curve

my learning curve in software testing

Why I dislike test management

As I am enjoying these short, not very nuanced, not extremely well thought out blog posts, here’s another one.

Some people seem to think that it makes sense to think of testing as a project within a project, so they apply project management tools and techniques to testing. This simply doesn’t work.
Because what are the tools and techniques do they use? A plan with milestones no one is ever going to make as unexpected stuff tends to happen. A budget that is too tight because it’s based on that same plan. Entry criteria that are not met, but never mind, we’re running out of time so you need to start testing anyhow. And finally exit criteria that we fail to meet as well, but hey we’ll go live anyway, because the software really isn’t that bad (or so we hope).
So in the end, a lot of time and effort is spent on producing documents that are of little use in guiding the actual testing effort. The only thing they do is give some people a warm and fuzzy illusion of control.

But why doesn’t this test management thing work? In my opinion it’s quite simple: testing on its own doesn’t really do anything. There is no real product at the end of testing; we only produce information.
Of course, one could argue that the product of software testing is a test report, but that’s just weird. No one cares about your test report, they care about the software, about the product. Or rather (and more inspiring for us software testers): they don’t care about the documents you produce, they care about the service you provide. And that gets lost when you focus on the test project instead of on the software project.

p.s. Something is bugging me about this post, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. Ideas anyone?

4 responses to “Why I dislike test management

  1. rumadak July 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Completely agree that testing should not be done to produce documents but information…Test reports might be required at some stages of project..but there not be a hard and fast rule to Have them….
    And yes its ironical that we write Test plans with all fancy stuff like entry and exit criteria…which no one bothers about…
    But I disagree with you saying that Test Management is not required. I think its much needed for activities like coordinating various testing activities, managing different projects, allicating resources etc etc

    [Joep’s reply: You are correct that those activities need to be done, but I just can’t help but think they can be managed better when split between the project manager and a test lead…]

  2. PM Hut July 16, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Testing is usually a task and should be treated accordingly. If the functionality to be tested is really big, then that task becomes a project (a project is simply a very large task than can be broken down into smaller tasks) and it has to be treated accordingly.

    The heart of the problem really lies in the overhead that PM has (which is inevitable) and is irrelevant to the task.

    [Joep’s reply: So I just have to accept it as fact of life? ;-) ]

  3. Pingback: Five Blogs – 17 July 2013 | 5blogs

  4. Appie July 17, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Hey Joep,
    The only truth in your blog is that it is indeed short and not very well thought through. Happy to discuss at the next (ex) QQ dinner.

    [Joep’s reply: Ouch, that’s harsh, but I guess I was asking for it. :-) Am looking forward to that discussion!]

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