Skip to main content

A Good Run!

“We got a good run from the tests” the tester stated.
“So what’s the story?” the scrum master asked.
“85% Pass” comes the reply, meekly.
“OK, just need to fix that 5% then.” The scrum master announces before striding off to announce that the team is only a couple of % away from success.

Our tester takes a moment to try and process the exchange…

Firstly, their own words:
“We got a good run”
Why had they said that? Well - in a sense - it was true. They had executed the tests before, and they had returned a much higher failure rate. But the code being checked was the same...

OK, so there were at least 3 obvious ways to interpret the data.
  1. The app code meets the criteria checked by the tests. ( Based on test run 2 )
  2. The app code does not meet the criteria checked by the tests. ( Based on test run 1 )
  3. The tests are as reliable a the toss of the coin. ( Based on both test runs )

Its surprising how unlikely people are to choose (3).

Secondly, the scrum master’s words:
“just need to fix that 5%”
Our tester assumes this relates to the de-facto “threshold” that is usually considered as good enough to release. As if the results were a linear scale, such as height or weight. If your code gets over 90% then it gets to pass the gate and get on the release roller-coaster.

The threshold tends to be arbitrary, I worked with a client that thought 86% was good but 83% was just not fit for purpose! Their use tends to indicate a problem. Why are we caring about a number rather than a possibly broken feature? What features or risks do the failing 10% represent? Why do we have so many routine failures?

Do you hear these sort of conversations in your team? If so, then your team might need some coaching.


Popular posts from this blog

Why you might need testers

I remember teaching my son to ride his bike. No, Strike that, Helping him to learn to ride his bike. It’s that way round – if we are honest – he was changing his brain so it could adapt to the mechanism and behaviour of the bike. I was just holding the bike, pushing and showering him with praise and tips.
If he fell, I didn’t and couldn’t change the way he was riding the bike. I suggested things, rubbed his sore knee and pointed out that he had just cycled more in that last attempt – than he had ever managed before - Son this is working, you’re getting it.
I had help of course, Gravity being one. When he lost balance, it hurt. Not a lot, but enough for his brain to get the feedback it needed to rewire a few neurons. If the mistakes were subtler, advice might help – try going faster – that will make the bike less wobbly. The excitement of going faster and better helped rewire a few more neurons.
When we have this sort of immediate feedback we learn quicker, we improve our game. When the f…

Thank you for finding the bug I missed.

Thank you to the colleague/customer/product owner, who found the bug I missed. That oversight, was (at least in part) my mistake. I've been thinking about what happened and what that means to me and my team.

I'm happy you told me about the issue you found, because you...

1) Opened my eyes to a situation I'd never have thought to investigate.

2) Gave me another item for my checklist of things to check in future.

3) Made me remember, that we are never done testing.

4) Are never sure if the application 'works' well enough.

5) Reminded me to explore more and build less.

6) To request that we may wish to assign more time to finding these issues.

7) Let me experience the hindsight bias, so that the edge-case now seems obvious!

Being a square keeps you from going around in circles.

After a weary few hours sorting through, re-running and manually double checking the "automated test" results, the team decide they need to "run the tests again!", that's a problem to the team. Why? because they are too slow. The 'test' runs take too long and they won't have the results until tomorrow.
How does our team intend to fix the problem? ... make the tests run faster. Maybe use a new framework, get better hardware or some other cool trick. The team get busy, update the test tools and soon find them selves in a similar position. Now of course they need to rewrite them in language X or using a new [A-Z]+DD methodology. I can't believe you are still using technology Z , Luddites!
Updating your tooling, and using a methodology appropriate to your context makes sense and should be factored into your workflow and estimates. But the above approach to solving the problem, starts with the wrong problem. As such, its not likely to find the right ans…