July 2007
In This Issue
Recommended Reading
ISTQB Certified Tester Training
The Role of the User in Risk-Based Testing
Free Webinar
RBCS Gives Back

Quick Links
Recommended Reading
Managing the Test People by Judy McKay

managing the test people 

Rex Black says, "You can tell Judy's been there, done that, and gotten the silly launch T-shirt quite a few times. Here, she shares with you what she's learned about managing a test team in that process. Some of it is painful, but it needs to be said. Much of it is hopeful, positive, and downright funny, though. She'll inspire you to do your best work as a manager, even under tough circumstances.

If you are a test manager, whether (though especially) you are new to test management or an experienced old hand, you should pick up this concise yet wide-ranging book. You'll have fun reading it, and you'll be a better test manager for having done so. "

Featured Partner 
Next month, RBCS President, Rex Black, will travel to New Zealand and Australia to speak at the STANZ conferences in Auckland and Sydney.  Rex has given keynotes, training events, and tutorials for Software Education a few times now. 

Software Education is a leading provider of software-related training, including testing training, in Australasia.  They offer our world-renowned ISTQB-accredited Test Engineering Foundation course, along with Managing the Testing Process and Software Test Estimation, among others.  These courses have been extremely well-received, and we're glad that Software Education's excellent trainers, using our courseware, have had such success with their audiences.  If you are in the Australasian market, and looking for software-related training, we can highly recommend Software Education. 

We enjoy working with Software Education, and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership in the years ahead
ISTQB Certified Tester Training 

September 24-27, Houston, TX, Test Engineering Foundation
October 15-17, San Jose, CA, Functional Testing Advanced Level
October 15-18, Toronto, ON, Test Management Advanced Level
November 5-8, Washington, DC, Test Management Advanced Level
November 26-28, Toronto, ON, Functional Testing Advanced Level
Welcome to another edition of the RBCS newsletter.  You'll find some interesting and useful information in this one, especially if you're interested in risk-based testing.  We have not one but two resources to help you put an analytical risk-based testing strategy in place at your organization.  If you already use risk-based testing, we have some ideas on how you can improve it. 

I hope you enjoy this newsletter and find the content useful.  If you have a minute, send an e-mail to let us know what you like about the newsletter, what you'd like to see more of, and what you'd like to see less of.  Of course, if there's anything we can do to help you with your testing needs, please make www.rbcs-us.com your first stop.

Rex Black, President

The Role of the User in Risk-Based Testing

by Rex Black

If you've read my books or articles, you probably know that I'm a big fan of risk-based testing. In this short article, let's consider the role of the user in risk-based testing. 

Remember that risk-based testing is about tailoring your testing to allocate effort and sequence tests for potential problems based on considerations of impact and likelihood.  Risk analysis and assessment helps you identify these potential problem areas and assess their levels of risk. However, the analysis and assessment is only as good as the people involved.

When identifying quality risks, we need to consider what quality means.  Who knows this better than the user?  When assessing the level of risk associated with a particular potential problem, we need to consider not just the technical aspects (which influence the likelihood of a bug), but also the business and operational aspects (which influence the impact of a bug should it exist).  Who knows the business and operational aspects of a system better than those who will use it?

Unfortunately, project teams who employ risk-based testing do not always involve users, which leads to untested risk areas, over-testing some areas and under-testing of others, and improper sequencing of tests.  Why don't project teams always involve users in risk analysis and assessment?  I have seen three main reasons.

First, some project teams don't approach risk-based testing properly.  They see risk-based testing solely through the lens of technical considerations.  When testing is seen as mostly concerned with finding as many bugs as possible, without considering the confidence building and risk-mitigation roles of testing, then risk-based testing becomes monomaniacal.

This problem is easy to fix: Change the project team's approach to risk-based testing to consider both likelihood and impact.  Training can help with this, as can reading a book like my own Managing the Testing Process or Rick Craig's Systematic Software Testing.

Second, some project teams have limited access to users.  This happens when building software for mass-market sale.  It also happens when users are geographically separated from the project team.

This problem is somewhat harder to fix:  The project team must identify user surrogates like business analysts, sales, and marketing teams.  These people must act on the user's behalf in risk analysis, and must remember to validate their assumptions with real users as often as possible.

Third, some project teams have organizational challenges to involving users in risk identification and analysis.  IT stakeholders sometimes worry that user community will be alarmed by a frank discussion of risks, leading to loss of support for the project or re-opening of debates about the project's viability. 

This problem is harder to fix:  The users who will participate in the risk analysis must be helped to understand that the very act of analyzing and assessing risks will allow for the mitigation and management of those risks.  Risk-based testing makes projects less risky, not more.  Convincing and educating users requires a strong champion for risk-based testing, who can be a technical or managerial leader in the organization or an outside consultant.

The role of the user in risk-based testing is at once essential and challenging.  Don't let the challenges frustrate you, though.  The challenges can be overcome, and must be overcome, to achieve success in risk-based testing.  The alternative is an approach too risky to consider! 
To see more articles by RBCS President, Rex Black, visit the library at www.rbcs-us.com.

Recorded Webinar on Risk-Based Testing 

If you found the information above interesting, and would like even more ideas on risk-based testing, tune into Rex's recent webinar on risk-based testing.  To access it, click on:



RBCS Gives Back to Injured Soldiers 

Opinions differ on the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  No matter the whys and wherefores of these wars, we know that the soldiers doing the fighting are good people caught in a difficult situation.  When that situation goes badly for them, and they are permanently injured, they need all the help they can get. 

When asked to help, we recently donated some polo shirts to tough soldiers rehabilitating at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio.  We wish them the best in their recovery.   This effort was spearheaded by Temple Beth-El working in cooperation with S.A. GIVEBACK