Tuesday, 22 December 2009

End of the Year and Project thoughts

As we all slip and slide our way to the festive break I can take a small break from running scripts to think about the last couple of projects I have been on.

The first was a big one, changing a lot of products that involved a lot of code and text changes. The work was made more complicated by the fact that they decided to merge two planned releases into one biggie. So you know the score, some of the changes in one were superseded in the next. For such a big release (and the usual carry on with specs that were supposed to be signed off being changed on ad-hoc basis) things went quite well. I say quite well as there were one or two hairy moments at the tale end of the project I could have done without. One of them was partly my fault, but is also a telling lesson in finding “gaps” between documents before you even start testing!

Uh oh!
What happened was right at the end of the project, we were in a meeting discussing defects when the business person said to me “you have been testing the product AB haven’t you? Cos there is a bloody big defect in it” . I gave the business person a look of person that had just been asked to solve a complex mathematical equation and no calculator. After the meeting I went back and checked through every damned document for a mention of product AB. Nope it wasn’t there, it wasn’t over here. It was no where to be seen. I reported back to the test lead that there was no such mention of product AB so we had not tested it.

Mea culpa!
The test lead went off to the meeting only to return later holding a print out of some spreadsheet that had supposedly been sent out by the business before test execution had started. In this elusive spreadsheet were a list of all the products and the relevant requirements form the spec, and guess what there the product AB with no requirement either! I spent a good hour wading through my emails to see if such spreadsheet was sent to me and couldn’t find it. My only thought was that I had got it and then in a fit of email deletion madness had sent it into oblivion. My only defence is that it was not in the original spec, nor in any of the subsequent updated ones. Which of course in the theory world of testing, is what you should be basing all of your testing on? It does show though in the testing world you need to keep on your toes when documents are flying hither and tither. It is a good example of what could happen if these gaps are not seen and flagged to the business as soon as possible. The business fortunately did not make a big deal of it, as they were probably aware that they too had some hand in the overall confusion.

Offshore Controversy
As soon the project that I was coordinating finished I was moved on to a new project that was just starting its execution phase. This time no stress just running lots of scripts and checking to do. The big cheese of our team has had marching orders to see if some of the checking can be off shored to make the team here more “efficient”. Taking things offshore is quite a heated and emotive subject in the testing world. I am on speaking terms with a high level manager at Global Company who I will refer going forward to as BC. The manager’s anecdotal evidence of what happened to them was not that pleasing to hear.

The big cheese has had the marching orders and so on this very small project, that some of the work has been given offshore. They have been given 50 or so scenarios to check not a great amount but enough to see how things would go. As part of the process we were given a quick demo of by one of their team to show what they would be doing.

It was eye-opening, for one thing how easy it was for them use their “tools” and then generate a report ( it took seconds). Much later on I asked the big cheese how much these tools would cost to install here and the fact it would only take one of us to run them ( for some reason it takes at least 5 of them to press a button and then check the report?) It was met with a rather blasé reply about not being that easy to install them on our network. I did a quick google and found them to be A/ cheap and B easy to install. Methinks politics is at play here. Anyway that’s the big cheese problem, in that management of sending stuff over there ( for some reason the poor dudes over there can not get access to our network) we then have to QA their work, organise the evidence for the business and put the cat out. It all seems a bit heavy on the management and does not make our team any more “efficient “. Who knows though it may all work out if they get access to the network. I still don’t get the cost savings though five of them to do a job that one or two of us could do in day or so…..I am sure this will run and run. I will no doubt write about it more next year.

So as Noel is upon us I will take this time to wish anyone who has stumbled in here by mistake a merry Christmas/happy festive/new year. Hope next year will be all the better for you!

The test dude