Use case 115: It was a dark and stormy night

Discussing relevance of testcases, user stories and requirements is an age-old challenge in IT development. Sometimes we think we know the usage of our software so much better, than the users – that we laugh and say: That would never be the case. But it may very well be.

The reason for undertaking the largest national construction project is so that the capital region can get fresh milk.” That’s what the minister of transportation said [1] – and boy we laughed. Why would we invest billions, 7 years and 18 km bridge so that one part of the country could supply fresh milk for the other (that had it’s own dairies).

A commercial[2] for a dairy snack (oh the irony) later alleged that this decision was made on an empty stomach[3]. But it wasn’t – with regular ferry service since 1883, the people wanted to cut the time from 90 minutes to 15 minutes, with all the added benefits of increased trade, travel and traffic.

The link opened in 1998 and a stormy night in 2006 the bridge closed for traffic. No big deal – it happens. It so happened that it closed for 22 hours. And hence the ecological milk dairy on the ”countryside” couldn’t deliver milk for the ”capital” side [4]. And the scenario from the minister of transportation had become no laughing matter.

Your user is not you http://www.developsense.com/blog/2013/12/your-user-is-not-you/

The baristas wept as there was no ecological skimmed milk

1: DK video: http://larslars.net/blog/2009/04/derfor-fik-vi-storeb%C3%A6ltsbroen/
2: Similar to this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2UrushQ86I
3: Why being hungry is bad for decision-making http://blog.bufferapp.com/8-things-you-dont-know-are-affecting-your-decisions-every-day
4: DK text: http://www.landbrugsavisen.dk/Landbrugsavisen/2006/5/26/Ingen+frisk+maelk+over+Storebaelt.htm

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Testing for coffee, testing for ǝnןɐʌ

We focus on both testing and the office coffee a lot and may be looking at its real value too little. If testing does not provide direct business value – as the office coffee does – how can we elaborate and talk about it as a value to the business?

Time: October 1st 2013  Cafe Stiften Banegårdspladsen 11, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark

If you attend #GOTO aarhus 2013 this will be a good time to continue discussing “ǝnןɐʌ: Why we have it backwards”http://gotocon.com/aarhus-2013/presentation/ǝnןɐʌ:%20Why%20we%20have%20it%20backwards

The first 25 participants gets

meetup

A great day in a long time

  • Running Club with the Half-Marathon Team (Stats by Endomondo)
    • Personal record: 3 km in 16m:05s
    • Personal record: 5 km in 27m:05s
    • Personal second largest distance: 6,96 km
    • Average speed: 5:29 min/km
    • Tuesday I did 8.10 km in 48m:00s (average: 5:56 min/km)
  • Won the GOTO aarhus Twitter contest: a LEGO mindstorm NXT 2 set #8547
  • Completed the first week of Microeconomics Principles – A Coursera Signature Track
  • Did a minimum viable job application 
    • It was shipped by hand to the company
    • It mentioned digital solutions
    • called a contact to let him pass the word too 😉

2013-08-20 14.55.29

  • Handed in a follow-up on an unsolicited job application
  • Still felt high over the twitter blast about #CAST2013
  • Called the fiber company for an offer 100/100
  • Called in well, to end 2 weeks bad bluez
  • Balanced the bank accounts
  • Got an appointment for physiotherapy
  • Got an appointment for a haircut
  • Had cake, had a free sandwich .. and a large coffee (black)
  • Figured out how to access the PowerjobMidt LinkedIn Company profile.
  • Figured out where to edit links buried deep down in a WordPress php editor file
  • Figured out how to feature articles using an odd content feature plugin for WordPress
  • Shopped for candy on the way home, gasoline and groceries – and strawberry

Value of Information for Decisions

If you ask “what is the ROI of context-driven testing” it is the same as asking:

  • What is the value proposition of providing information to the stakeholders?
  • Will management and customers pay for information?

Let me tell you a story: Just today I finally got around to changing tires on my car. Three months ago I bought a campaign voucher for a cheap switch of winter tires to summer tires – so it was about time. I booked a time and went to the shop with the summer tires in the trunk. BUT then … the front tires where out of shape due to wrong “tracing”, brake cables and other stuff worn and empty for lubrication. sigh!

So … the shop had to repair those critical defects (yeah, the vouchers a good business generator, #I’mOKwithThat). They gave me the keys to a replacement car for the day for free. And we discussed fixing some other stuff – the tricky ignition was Deffered/FixedUpStream but the defective brake lights added to the work order (New bug raised due to a hunch). I got an estimate and went for the day. The quote was pretty close, the repair on time and the requirements verified on the release bill. 

And then they provides me with a list of a few things they noticed along the way. 

  • I probably paid for an automated test and configuration of a “trace” balancing – I assumed it there.
  • We did discuss scope, price, schedule and timing – along with bug triage
  • The shop did provide me with enough information and estimation up front to base my decisions on
  • As the product owner I did not pay directly for the list of test ideas not covered – but I appreciated it!

The shop could have just swapped the tires for the voucher cost – and noticed nothing else. They could have chosen not to tell me about the additional bugs. They could not have offered me a replacement car for the day. They probably where more expensive than a moonlighting garage dude – I known now what the difference can be.

I value that they provide information to aid my business decision-making – besides just swapping the stupid tires. They will probably get repeat business from me – directly or indirectly. 🙂 And yes, Scott, they did have free coffee

pellesbil

Look for Minimum Viable Testing

How much critical mass will the product/project/service need to allow for (software) testing?

Recently I participated in a local “coffee shop meet-up” along with photographers, coaches, entrepreneurs and start-ups. We could agree that coaches as well as testers give indirect value to the business – but while staff coaching could be individually sold to carpenters and hairdressers – (software) testing could not. Afterwards I challenged my self to think otherwise!

Good testing is an information and exploration activity – to find risks and present information to the stakeholders. Usually it’s easy to find the known risks to entrepreneurs – but good testing can test for unknown unknowns – even if there is no product or “just” a minimum viable product:

The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” The definition’s use of the words maximum and minimum means it is decidedly not formulaic. It requires judgment to figure out, for any given context, what MVP makes sense.

Similarly minimum viable testing is an effort, that allows the team to collect tacit and explicit learning about the solution, given the context. Go look for it in your context – Testing can add business value to any project state

tractor

Related: Acceptance is more than what can be measured , You call that testing – how can that add value,

Even a self-acclaimed guru breaks the rules

The similarity between a guru and a newbie is that they both break the rules. The difference is that the guru knows he’s breaking the rules.

A Newbie, a Trainee, an Independent, an Expert and a Guru enters a bar….

The LEGO Death Star Canteen #EddieIzzard
  • The Newbie doesn’t know what a bar is, orders a cup of coffee  
  • The Trainee knows what a bar is, orders a beer
  • The Independent repeats a successful experience and orders a beer
  • The Expert, having written the drinks list orders a whisky
  • The Guru orders a  cup of coffee, because he needs a go***** cup of coffee

In this model the difference between a guru and an expert is – that the expert thinks he knows everything, while the guru knows he knows nothing. Even this model falls to the relative rule about X. If the Newbie doesn’t know what a bar is. Then how can he enter it?

Newbee Never heard of X No skill – no training or experience
Trainee Heard of XContext-oblivious Basic training has been received. The only experience gained has been in a classroom and/or experimental scenarios or as a trainee on-the-job. You would be expected to need some help when performing the skill.
Independent Can do XContext-specific Repeated successful experiences have been completed. Help from an expert may be required from time to time, but you can usually perform the skill independently.
Expert Wrote the X bookContext-imperial You can perform the actions associated with this skill without assistance. You are certainly recognized within your immediate organization as “the person to ask” when difficult questions arise regarding this skill. You have extensive experience and could teach the subject if you had teaching skills. You are probably also known outside your organization as an expert.
GuruMaster Know the limits of XContext-driven You can answer any question about the skill and most any question related to the field where the skill is used. The “expert” would come to you for advice. You have probably published a paper on the subject.

See also: Establish yourself as an expert or thought leaderAll oracles are fail-able