Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rolling Up The Year

Hi Friends,

Something I learned from one of my mentors, Jim Rohn, is to reflect at the end of a period of time and think about:

What went well?
What could have been better?
What can we build on?
What can we be thankful for?
What have we learned?

Mr. Rohn talked about the impact this would have over years and even a lifetime. I am convinced this is a big part of gaining true wisdom.

Prolific leadership author and coach, John Maxwell, says he does this on a weekly basis sitting in his hot tub. For me, I tend to reflect more on an annual basis (not in a hot tub).

In my "Becoming an Influential Test Team Leader" tutorial, we discuss this as one of the 15 ways you can add value to your team without spending a lot of money. This really is "low hanging fruit," but we tend to miss it. Even individually, as a leader, this is a good time to think back over the year and roll the lessons into major themes to remember and value.

I would caution you about being too hard on yourself. Sometimes, hard introspection is needed, but we have enough negativity coming our way from the external. Imagine what a coach might be telling you. Not the coach that was always berating you, but the one that you may have found encouraging, yet holding a hard line of accountability.

I don't know how many things you will have on your list. By the way, this is a good time to journal them. (You don't keep a journal? Fix that in 2013!) I typically have about ten to twelve things that stick out over the year. It is interesting to go back several years to see if I really am learning from my personal retrospectives.

In many ways, life and work is a test. So think of this as your annual "test summary report." I hope things went well for you this year. I hope in the areas they didn't go so well, that you find 2013 to be a better year. Inasmuch as things depend on you, I hope you gain the skills and knowledge to excel. In the areas that are circumstance-driven, I hope you will find peace and endurance. I'm pulling for you!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cheap Pizza and Software Testing

Yes, pizza and software testing have a relationship, and not in the way you might expect. Of course, pizza is the fuel of any test lab (One of my friends said there were visible rings in one of the test lab tables where pizzas were often set!).

However, my mind is going a different direction.

In our neighborhood, we have several pizza places, some small mom and pop places, some large chains, some franchises. You probably have the same mix in your area. They have varying levels of quality. In fact, the "big name" is the worst by far. The smallest place was the best by far. The word "was" is because they closed this week, which really disappointed me.

What has happened over the years is that the price point for a "large" one topping pizza has reached $5. Anything over that is seen as "too much". Quality isn't a factor, only speed and price. So a race to the bottom has ensued.

Really, at $5 a pie, that's in the frozen pizza range!

I see the same thing in software development and testing. How much is "expensive" for an iPad app? $1.99?  $5.99?  $19.99?

How much is a bug worth? $1, $5, $5,000, $40 Million (If you are Nasdaq!)

How much are testers worth? (What if they really knew your business and were the glue that holds a project together?)

How much is a good developer worth? (What if they were crazy good, not "kings and queens of their domain" and your products were amazing?)

Pizza has become a commodity and unfortunately so has software development, testing and training.

How much is a really good pizza worth to you? I'll bet it's more than $5. How much would you pay in a place like Rome, or with a good friend or loved one?

Cheap pizza, like cheap testing gives a false sense of value. Cheap doesn't necessarily mean bad. However, cheap is often bad.  Value is good outcomes for a reasonable cost.

By the way, I would have gladly paid much more to keep my favorite place open. At this point, I must confess that I am part of the problem whenever I buy things on price over value. It fuels the problem.

As testers and software people, we need to provide value to a market that wants cheap and quick. When we stretch things too thin, we provide little value and even negative value at times.

Now...I know you all will suggest great places for pizza that is not cheap. Feel free. I travel a lot and keep a list. I just need a good place close to me!

I wish you all a very blessed Christmas and a very prosperous and healthy 2013!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Webinar - Three Success Factors Critical to Determining Your ICD-10 Testing Strategy

Thursday, December 20, 2012
2:00 EST - 3:00 EST

Presented by Dexter Oliver of Integritas Solutions and Randy Rice, of Rice Consulting Services, Inc.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has mandated that everyone covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) use the ICD-10 coding standard by October 1, 2014.

This mandate will impact all entities that report and pay claims. This includes hospitals, clinics, insurance companies and physicians. Furthermore, service providers such as medical coding services and other vendors, such as software companies will also be greatly impacted.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services predicts that claim errors will rise to between 6% and 10% of all claims, up from an annual 3% under ICD-9. There are many technical challenges with the ICD-10 conversion because of the breadth and depth of how the classification codes are used in both clinical and business processes throughout the healthcare ecosystem. HIM Managers must partner with their IT organizations to implement solutions as well as develop testing strategies to mitigate the major financial and operational risks associated with this transformation.

In this FREE webinar, you will learn three critical steps to help develop a testing strategy that will help organizations achieve compliance cost effectively.

Register at:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review – How Google Tests Software

How Google Tests SoftwareBy James A. Whittaker, Jason Arbon, Jeff Carollo
Published Mar 23, 2012 by Addison-Wesley Professional.
Copyright 2012, Dimensions: 7" x 9-1/4", Pages: 320
Edition: 1st
ISBN-10: 0-321-80302-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-321-80302-3

Click to see on

The main question you may be asking is “Why do I care how Google tests software if I’m not a start-up or a development company?” Great question!

While your situation will likely not be the same as Google’s, there is a lot to be learned in how they do things in development and testing. That’s because they seem to have the secret formula in getting features to market quickly and with good quality.

Not only did this book give me ideas about how to make testing software more productive, it can give anyone a perspective of software testing not found anyplace else. Most other books address testing from the perspective of “Here’s how testing should be performed.” This book comes from the angle of “Here’s how we do testing.” There is a big difference.

It is tempting to skip the preface and introduction when reading a book. However, these provide critical context and a good summation of what you can expect to take away from the book.

You will see several perspectives of testing at Google:

First, there is the historical perspective of how Google matured both as a company and test organization.

Second, you will read how James Whittaker, an already accomplished and notable testing guru, joined Google and had to do innovative things of value to carry his weight there.

Third, you will read perspectives by the co-authors and their interviews with developers, testers and managers at Google about their roles and responsibilities.

Finally, the authors outline in complete detail both how Google tests, and why they do things they way they do. Some key takeaways for me were:

·      Using tours as a basis for exploratory testing,
·      The concept of writing a 10-minute test plan,
·      The value of crowdsourcing for testing,
·      Getting maximum value from early testing from test engineers who are developers at their core (People always want to get better testing earlier in projects. This book explains how to do that!),
·      Seeing Google's testing framework in action.

I can highly recommend this book to people who are looking for new ideas to revamp testing processes and organizations.