Testing shouldn’t take more than …

There have been a few times in my career where I’ve had somebody (Test Manager, Test Coordinator, Development Manager etc)  tell me something along the lines of “testing this shouldn’t take more than n hours or n days.”  This can be conveyed (and interpreted) in two ways; we have n hours or n days to test, or it can mean that you should be able to complete your testing in n hours or n days.  More often than not, it means the latter. The statement conveyed in that manner completely disregards the fact that complete testing is not possible (I won’t be going into this detail in this post).  Furthermore, the statement is often made without a real understanding of the feature to be tested. Sometimes the test manager or coordinator can make the statement without knowledge of the technical details, the risks, and without any consideration given to the details for the specific feature or application.  Other times the statement is made based on what somebody else, for example a developer or business analyst has said.

In my opinion this is similar to somebody making a personal recommendation to try a restaurant based on what somebody else has said without ever having eaten at the restaurant themselves.

Either way it leads to unrealistic expectations, inaccurate estimates, and a lot of misunderstandings & confusion (not to mention a poor understanding of Software Testing) – unless the Software Tester takes action to prevent that. This can lead to a lot of explanations, disagreements, meetings and more which ultimately cuts into testing time.  The first time I was in this situation, and every subsequent time I’ve always made it a point to speak up and explain to the individual making the statement what the testing for the particular situation actually entails and why the statement may be inaccurate – those with a stake in the project (Product Owners, Business Owners, Project Managers) should be aware of what was developed, what was tested, what wasn’t tested, along with relevant and valuable information discovered during testing so that they can make the appropriate decision regarding the feature or application.

A good understanding of what Software Testing is and what it should set out to accomplish – the mission, goals, and purpose is something those with an influence on testing activities within an organization should be aware of – as it may dictate how valuable testing time is spent.

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