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Critical Testing Processes: Plan, Prepare, Perform, Perfect
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- List Price: $69.99
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- Copyright 2004
- Dimensions: 7x9-1/4
- Pages: 608
- Edition: 1st
- ISBN-10: 0-201-74868-1
- ISBN-13: 978-0-201-74868-0
The advent of agile methodologies and test-driven development has brought software testing to the forefront of application development. Yet in today’s harried rush-to-market development environment, organizations must find a delicate balance between product release and product quality.
In Critical Testing Processes, the author distills knowledge gained from 20 years of testing experience into twelve critical processes. These include highly visible processes by which peers and management judge competence, and mission-critical processes in which performance affects the company’s profits and reputation.
After each process is introduced, the author demonstrates its use through an engaging case study. Instead of cumbersome regulations, this book provides checklists—lightweight, flexible tools for implementing process-oriented testing, gathering metrics, and making incremental process changes. By demonstrating critical processes in various organizational, operational, and technological contexts, this book shows readers how to:
Because testing is a collaborative process with the participation of staff throughout the organization, the author discusses interpersonal and cultural issues in depth. This book also devotes ample coverage to the often-overlooked areas of planning and perfecting tests. Whatever your role in testing—from test engineering to managing hundreds of test engineers—Critical Testing Processes will offer valuable insights into what you do, why it’s important, and how you can perform better.
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Table of Contents
I’ve spent most of my twenty years in the software and hardware business inthe arena of testing. For the first few years as a test practitioner, I struggled tokeep my head above water. Ultimately, I mastered some basic tools and techniques.
As I learned more about testing, I started to notice certain common themes.Some of these themes had to do with events—good and bad—that happenedover and over again on software, hardware, and system projects. For some of theseevents, I found that some teams could create order in their projects. These teamshandled these common events better than the teams that bounced from one crisis tothe next, reacting constantly, immersed in chaos. The successful teams had goodprocesses.
Some of these successful project teams implemented writtenprocesses, while others accumulated “institutional knowledge” in theirwise—and sometimes prematurely gray—heads. While I have nothing againsta shared company culture, it’s hard to pass along the processes you’velearned unless you write them down-whether formally or informally, as checklists.This book takes the informal road. I describe twelve specific test processes, usingchecklists.Each process is critical to test team success.
I describe theseprocesses in chronological order. First we plan the test activities. Next we prepareto test. After that, we perform the tests. Finally, we perfect the system under testand the testing activities themselves.
Many other books have covered thetopics of preparing and performing tests in great detail. My experience is that, astesters, we generally do a good job in these areas. So, instead of rehashing what wealready know, I focus on opportunities for improvement. I devote eleven of theseventeen chapters to the topics of planning and perfecting. By far, these are theareas where we as testers have the most difficulty. This is especially true forcomplex and critical projects.
Where will this book take you? During theearly colonization of the American continent in the 1540s, Francisco Vasquez deCoronado searched the deserts of present-day Arizona and New Mexico for the SevenCities of Cbola, including El Dorado, a city whose streets were supposedly pavedwith gold. Juan Ponce De Leon searched for a Fountain of Youth. In 1911, one of thefirst management consultants, Frederick Winslow Taylor, wrote a book called ThePrinciples of Scientific Management. Taylor espoused the idea of the one bestway—the perfect process—for each activity on an assembly line or in anyother industrial enterprise. But none of these three men found streets of gold, lifewithout death, or perfect processes.
This book isn’t about Quixoticquests. There are no streets of gold that will make us effortlessly rich. Wecan’t side-step our human limitations. I don’t have infallibleprocesses. As Frederick Brooks wrote in the Mythical Man-Month, SecondEdition, we don’t have any silver bullets to kill our system projectmonsters, including the ones that live in quality and testing. That said, I havefound many ways for testers to deliver valuable information and services to theproject team, and each of these ways has its strong points and its weaknesses.
The processes in this book might differ from what you’re doing now. In somecases you’ll decide, based on the success of your current processes, thatyou’re doing a fine job already. In some cases, though, you may want toimplement improvements. I’ll discuss specific ways to do that, but two themesapply to process change throughout the book.
First, only change what’sbroken when changing it will help. Process change for its own sake, or processchange to perfect an already-good process, often doesn’t help the test team orthe organization. Indeed, such efforts can prove a dangerous distraction fromwhat’s truly important.
Second, change is often easiest when done insteps wherever possible. Change should be made as painless as possible. All theprocesses in the book were developed through incremental change as I realized that abetter way of doing things would significantly increase the value my team could add,and fine-tuned my processes to achieve that.
The processes in this bookaren’t pie-in-the-sky theory, but rather grew out of my experiences on theground as a practicing tester, test lead, and test manager. Your experiences andyour challenges will differ from mine, so be sure to adapt my processes—orcompletely reinvent your own—rather than trying to put a saddle on a cow.Following good processes can liberate you from the rote aspects of certain tasks,allowing you to focus on the fun, the fascinating, and the creative. When theprocesses you’ve adopted no longer solve the critical problems, when they needto evolve as your situations change, when they get in the way, then it’s timeto rethink how you do what you do. The processes I discuss here are lightweightchecklists (things I want to remember to do), not bureaucratic regulations (things Ihave to do because someone told me to).
I hope that this book will start youthinking about the following questions: How do we do our testing jobs every day andon every test project as best as we possibly can? How do we de-institutionalize ourknowledge of how we do what we do? Even though we have varied experiences, is therea commonality of practices that we can share for critical testing processes thatdetermine our success? This book will give you a compendium of proven testingprocesses to help jump-start the most critical testing process of all, the thinkingprocess.
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