Archive for August, 2015

Obstructionist Testers!

Posted on: August 26th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Thinking back

I have been working on the introduction to product testing course at Value Transformation’s learning portal.  Working through the material reminded me of some experiences I have had that I think should make it to the rest of the world.

I was once a verification and test person; I have been a tester, and a manager of a test department.  Project management and testing seem to always be at odds. The project managers were very interested in cost, and delivery (time) and ancillary interested in quality a less tangible feature of the product and often not immediately apparent after launch while late and over budget are fairly quickly known.  I especially recall two instances that stand out the greatest. 

Raining on My Project!

The first was a project manager that had planned how the testing would work without the discussions with the test department. The scope, duration and risks were not discussed until a few days before the tests. Even more risky, was the device or in this case the system that was to be the subjected for the test was not available at the local facility.  To make the test even remotely work, a specimen had to be delivered to the test department from another part of the company in another state. The test department had experience getting material from this off site.  There were logistical challenges around making the system suitable for testing that meant the start of testing would not be as soon as the vehicle arrived but perhaps many days later. This range of past experiences was presented in the form of a histogram demonstrating the range of possible duration for systems test preparation.  Not one example of the amount of time the project manager desired this preparation work to take was in the population.  When this evidence was presented, the project manager exclaimed that the test manager was raining on his schedule.

Don’t ask Questions!

The second occurrence was with a more seasoned project manager.  This company had a customer engineering organization that made specific adaptations for the customer. These designs were of such defined and limited scope that they were delivered outside of the product development engineering organization.  These were theoretically small adaptations that required low levels of engineering talent. However, occasionally the volumes on these low level product offerings would escalate and there was a desire to make this custom adaptations part of the formal product offering.  On some occasions this move to standard offering was quick and without much of a review, only to find many problems and considerable warranty and rework costs after the transition.  Having had this experience, it was not unreasonable to ask questions and want to review quality reports on these systems before moving to mass offering.  This project manager thought the test department was stonewalling and being obstructionist without any purpose, he was quite irate.  Upon review of these mentioned areas, it was found that there were many problems with this adaptation and to move it to a standard customer offering would be very costly due to quality of the design.  In other words there would be considerable field rework and warranty dollars spent to fix this offering on a larger number of systems.

You have a problem

The real point of this post is to suggest if you think of your testers and test department as obstructionist because they ask questions and desire to see evidence of the product’s suitability prior to launch, you probably have a REAL problem.  The test and verification activities are there for the organization and the project.  These are in place to mitigate risks to the customer and to our organization.  It is not obstructionist to want to ensure a measure of critique is in place when it comes to the quality, potential risks and safe use of the product.  Many companies have gone out of business or have had costly recalls due to insufficient scrutiny of the product through testing that demonstrates the true capability of the product.  Understanding these risks are important for the project as well as for the organization. It is time to stop thinking of the test department as an impediment and understand the reasons for verification and test.

Product Testing and Verification Dictionary

Posted on: August 18th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Register for the free introduction to product (hardware and software) testing in a course online that covers the topics:

  1. Stakeholders / Sponsors
  2. Project Scope
  3. Configuration Management
  4. Static Testing Techniques (inspections)
  5. Dynamic techniques
  6. Approaches to testing
  7. Regression , Re-test and Human Interactions
  8. Evaluation
  9. Putting it together with TIEMPO
  10. Test Management

This course includes the creation of a product testing dictionary (already more than 130 entries and 300+ more to go).  The dictionary has interaction mechanisms via comments that we will use to modify and adjust the dictionary entry.  Once the entries are secured, these will be turned into a digital dictionary and printed version.  All those that register and contribute to this dictionary will be mentioned in the front matter of the work and will receive a free digital copy of the work.  Presently there are more than 400 entries identified for the work that includes software AND hardware testing terms.

Register now for free at:

Introduction to Product Testing (including software)

Posted on: August 6th, 2015 by admin No Comments

We have created an online introduction to product testing course. The course is free, and highly interactive. It consists of ten modules on topics listed below with some of the attributes per module.   

   1.)  Stakeholders and Sponsors
   2.) Scope and Requirements
   3.) Configuration Management and Testing
   4.)  Static Testing Techniques
   5.)  Dynamic Testing Techniques
   6.) Approaches to testing
   7.) The special case of regression and retest
   8.) Evaluation
   9.) Putting it together with TIEMPO 
 10.) Test Management

There are movies, and flip through slides, podcasts, and many and assorted quizzes associated with each topic. 

The first five of those modules are available for access now.  Go to the Value Transformation LLC training portion of the site at:

Register now by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.  

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