Friday, April 28, 2006

Software testing FAQ - No. 13

Is it possible that in the pursuit of the Software Testing Dream you could end up achieving a software testing nightmare?

That question comes from Kenny Lay. I'm not sure what the Software Testing Dream is that you are referring to there, Kenny Boy. Given the capitalisation and the use of the definitive article, perhaps it is a play , like Midsummer Night's Dream, or a book, like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. In which case, I do not know this testing work of art. However, I think it more likely that it is a concept of a software testing regime that consumes little elapsed time, is low in cost and substantially reduces the risks of failure.

This needn't be a dream though. There are many examples of projects that have embodied this concept. There are also many examples where this software testing dream goes unrealised because of:

1. Project managers who say they want to reap the benefits of this approach to software testing but their actions belie this intention. "It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find, as the first balls are being bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain".

2. Test managers who undermine these goals by their pedantic approach to test strategy and test execution. "This performance testing method worked perfectly on my last project so it will work here, despite the multitude of differences between the projects (which I will choose to deem irrelevant)".

Both these obstacles can make a software testing nightmare highly probable, despite the professed intention.

So the answer is yes.

But I would add that the pursuer has a great part to play in this software testing migration from dream to nightmare and far from being an unwitting victim is often the real culprit.