Fair well Testosaurus
I had to leave the test automation tutorial session that I signed up for after about 15 minutes. I couldn’t take it any longer. The content was out-dated and it seemed like from a Land Before Time. It is sad to see. but the Test Dinosaur became an endangered species. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in high quality software, but it has to be done differently.
Figure 1: The Dawn of Banana Software
A great man once said, that the company that we both worked for is selling banana software. “It ripens at the customer!”. As a matter of fact I think every software product ripens at the customer. To him, the great man, it meant that the software is not ready, but green and bitter, when the customer first receives it. Users choke and spit after they’ve tried the first byte.
In the eye of the beholder
Buggy software is and will always be factual. Customers always will find new bugs and involuntarily contribute to the products maturity. The old-school approach to software quality assurance is to fight theses windmills. It is a very expensive and hopeless battle. Why wouldn’t we just appreciate and market green as a good thing, move the troops from the testing front to development, customer care and product evangelism. Here is what we tell development, customer care and our product evangelists.
Message to development
Dear Development Team,
we recently decided to re-purpose the test team. Half of the engineers will join your team to work on the features that got cut in the past because either there was never time at the end, or they wouldn’t be important in a bug-free product.
- Mechanism for the automatic delivery of software updates
- Error reporting and application state capture
- Troubleshooting tools
- Exporting, packaging and importing of customer assets
Besides that we have finally the resources to do the following the right way
- Test Driven Development
- Pair programming
- Source code reviews
- Design for testability
- Choose an architecture that is not just duct tape and spit, but holds your product together even when it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere, but make it resilient to bugs.
Message to customer care
Dear Customer Care Team,
we recently decided to re-purpose the test team. Half of the engineers will join your team to work on giving our customer the best care possible. Let’s face it, making a customer wait several minutes in the telephone queue, if she just wants to report a bug and hopefully get some relieve in the form of a workaround or patch, doesn’t really cool down the situation. We instrumented our products. Capturing useful evidence that will lead to a successful analysis of the customer’s problem will no longer annoy you and your customer. You will no longer have to play phone tag to get the correct log file and detailed information about the environment the application is running in. Customer Care is now part of the Product.
Message to the product evangelism
Dear Product Evangelism team,
we recently repurposed the test team. Since you know how to use our product as well as our customers do, you will give us thumbs up or down, when we think the product is ready for release.
Message to customer
we just significantly improved the quality of our Products at no additional charge.
My opinion is of course provocative and at the end an experiment or test will decide whether your product’s quality is acceptable or not. The fact is that the the experiment and the assessment is done by the customer. And software products are always in beta.