Testing across the IT landscape

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Good testing is much more than confirmation of explicit requirements. It’s figuring out the implicit requirements, what blocks the business and what drives the business. Businesses are not driven by SDLC’s but by decisions and strategies. IT road maps are just a representation of the business strategy, an engine to build business solutions on. The is much more to the business than the software solutions and related risk mitigation.

Very often the biggest business risks are outside the project scope. When we look at it this way we see that testers and testing activities has an opportunity outside the classic project life cycle. Testing is about experimenting with a IT solution, to evaluate if it fits the business requests. IT solutions that supports the business exists in many forms, I am certain that explicit testing (*) can add value in other parts of the IT landscape.

Here is a model of an enterprise IT landscape consisting of business ideas, solution development, operations and end user devices + support. Solution delivery is boring in the sense of well-known software creation and maintenance. What if the item under test and the requirements are around network, servers, end-user devices and IT support tickets. I am certain that it’s valuable to test business cases before the project is even formally assembled.


*: implicit testing in the form of critical evaluation always happen. .. similarly does checking.

Chicken for Christmas – Tradition is a choice

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TL;DR: Testing is always something that we choose to do – and how we test is similarly a matter of choice. As is Christmas traditions. .. it’s just man-made rules, we can choose to change them.

So I was discussing what we should have for Christmas with the stakeholders. One of them wants the traditional rice pudding, the other wants – untraditionally: chicken. And you know what – that’s ok. Traditions are guidelines, not rules – we can make new traditions, just by choosing to.

Testing in production used to be a great no-no. I’m still feeling odd when we do it, but I have come to see it as another tool of the trade. It has a name now “testing in the wild” TTitW as has been presented at EuroStar 2015. Also this is how Netflix have been testing for years, from GitHub, as it is open source too (!).

You might argue that changing testing (in the wild) is not allowed. I will challenge that assumption – being allowed to do something is a choice too. You choose to follow the the process frameworks, requirements, rules… and you can choose not to. The tradition of manual predefined testcases are so four years ago!

Sometimes it’s just a matter of saying up-front, that you are tailoring the process. So choose an approach that actually gives meaning and value to the stakeholders and context. Deconstruct the traditions and commercial bodies of knowledge and make some new!

I wonder if


I wonder if… the Norwegian and Swedish texts are correct on this picture:

2015-10-29 21.38.35

I wonder if is surely among the things that I as a tester say  or think a lot. You will also hear me cheer when we find a critical bug. Every defect / bug / observation  / issue / problem / incident we find is our chance to learn about the product. It’s a natural part of the game to find things and then to handle them. Defer them if so inclined, mitigate the risks, fix the bugs, update the  processes – but always take a decision based on the new knowledge you have.


Here are some other things I often say:

revert_thatsodd  strange

Originally at the Ministry of Testing Facebook page,  but the twists above are mine.

Selected peer-reviewed publications

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  • Using Business Decisions to Drive Your Testing Coverage [Sticky Minds by TechWell, November 2014] In a business setting, software testers have a great challenge: to articulate how they support the business lines. One way to approach this is by addressing the business decisions—and there are plenty around. Use them to drive your testing activities and increase the business decisions being covered by testing. http://www.stickyminds.com/article/using-business-decisions-drive-your-testing-coverage 
  • The answer is: Why – because the answer depends on context.[The Testing Circus,vol.6 2.ed February 2015]: When asked about testing approaches, the options are so plentiful, that the reply is often “It depends” – and followed by a range of elaborations. But in our eager to reply, we forget to listen. http://www.testingcircus.com/february-2015/

8 articles for The Testing Planet since 2011: http://www.ministryoftesting.com/tag/jesper-lindholt-ottosen/

  1. Testing is Shifting [Testing Planet 2017 by the Ministry of Testing, Mar 2017]: Change is the only constant, they say, but we still need to manage change – and cope with it. Coping not only means surviving mentally, but also adjusting to whatever happens and figuring out how to be productive and create value for our stakeholders when things change. https://dojo.ministryoftesting.com/lessons/testing-is-shifting
  2. About Closure [The Testing Planet by Ministry of Testing, Nov 2014] When I’m in a testing activity I want my test cases [Passed], my user stories [done] and my coffee [black].  Stuff may have a start point, some states in between and an end state. Lets look at ways to represent states and articulate the meaning of states. http://www.ministryoftesting.com/2014/11/closure/
  3. A Little Track History that goes a Long Way [The Testing Planet by Ministry of Testing, July 2011] The purpose of this tracking tool is to collect just enough data to answer the frequent question “Will we finish on time” https://www.ministryoftesting.com/2011/07/a-little-track-history-that-goes-a-long-way/ 
  4. The Day Testing Died But Didn’t [The Testing Planet by Ministry of Testing, Jan 2014] To play according to textbooks is fine, up to a certain level. Perhaps up to master level, but not to grand masters.  http://www.ministryoftesting.com/2014/01/day-testing-died-didnt
  5. Recognize and Acknowledge Your Skills [The Testing Planet by the Ministry of Testing, June 2013] What you know and what you do is an important part of being you. Often it is required to rethink: What do I know? What are my skills? How strong are they? http://www.ministryoftesting.com/2013/06/recognise-and-acknowledge-your-skills/
  6. The Daily Defect Count and the Image of a Camel [The Testing Planet by The Ministry of Testing, April 2014] Count the defects daily – the ones that are part of the project work load. The number goes up and down during the cycle – why and what can you learn? https://www.ministryoftesting.com/2014/04/daily-defect-count-image-camel/ 
  7. One Test Case is All You Need [The Testing Planet by The Ministry of Testing, November 2013] If you can come up with just one business transaction – that crystallizes why the customer will be kicking and screaming to want to use your application, then you have a very good understanding of your customer and all you need is that one testcase. https://www.ministryoftesting.com/2013/11/one-test-case-is-all-you-need/
  8. The Build-A-Tester Workshop [The Testing Planet by The Ministry of Testing, June 2013] A small social game of Build-A-Tester can be used in a team to open the discussion, less formally than with Belbin and MBTI checklists. https://www.ministryoftesting.com/2013/06/the-build-a-tester-workshop/

I know you need more info…

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Left to my own devices I probably would

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You can easily do a half-marathon

Yes I could, but the thing is it would need longer runs. I run with the Running Club Tuesdays and Thursdays before dinner. As a simplified example – if dinner get’s delayed the kids won’t eat as well, then they can’t fall asleep – and will need to eat past their bed time. They will sleep too late, and we (the parents) will have less time to the evening chores and being together. Every time there is something I’d like to do, there is always something else that matters that doesn’t get done.

Come to X-conference – it’s just a matter of priority if you’re one of the ones

Sure, it is – that’s easy for you to say.  But €2000 + travel is out of my private pocket, missing work hours is out of my pocket, being away from family is out of both my time and their time. And really €4000 is a lot of money in a family with two kids with special needs – where the income is one job, one early retired. Also it’s a stupid argument, as I can point to heroes of testing that I consider “one of the ones” that like me aren’t going to both this and that.

I can do a Test Bash, write blog posts* and articles for the Testing Planet etc. 

I can run 14km in 1½ hours. 


(*: and I’ll try to get back to blogging more)

Quote Left to my own devices

and I could
and left to my own devices
I probably would
Left to my own devices
I probably would
Oh, I would



Use case 115: It was a dark and stormy night

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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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