Skip to main content

Avoiding Death By Exposure

There's no such thing as a small bug. Customers, be they people or businesses, do not measure Software bugs in metres, feet or miles or kilograms. They use measures like time wasted, life-lost and money. 

Take a recent bug from Facebook. It affected thousands, maybe millions of customers and the bottom line of companies (seemingly) unconnected with Facebook such as Spotify, Tik-Tok and SoundCloud, and probably countless smaller companies. So why did the journalist seem to think it was small?

Too often we judge the systems we create by how likely they are to fail, given our narrow view of the world. A better measure is our exposure when the systems fail. The exposure for Facebook is a greater motivation for other companies to disentangle themselves from Facebook's SDK, or promote a rival platform.

It doesn't matter if our bug is one tiny assumption or one character out of place, if it stops a million people from using or buying an app then it's a huge bug. 


French revolution | Révolution française, Trois glorieuses, Révolution
We need a revolution in how we assess software testing costs.

By deciding to not invest in developing robust software and not test for bugs, we are increasing our exposure to harm. By just ticking off scenarios completed, you are not saving money; you are teaching customers and business partners that you are not reliable. That your data model isn't correct or that you’re not safe. 


The costs you saved yesterday will be a tiny fraction of the money you lose in the longer term, it's just a matter of time. You can not calculate the mean cost of your app’s software development, because you don’t have all the costs. Your biggest costs will come later when your SDK fails, your game wipes people drives or your planes crash.

Measure your software’s quality by the exposure you have to failure, not the cost of man-hours spent developing and testing each feature.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Betting in Testing

“I’ve completed my testing of this feature, and I think it's ready to ship”
“Are you willing to bet on that?”
No, Don't worry, I’m not going to list various ways you could test the feature better or things you might have forgotten.
Instead, I recommend you to ask yourself that question next time you believe you are finished. 
Why? It might cause you to analyse your belief more critically. We arrive at a decision usually by means of a mixture of emotion, convention and reason. Considering the question of whether the feature and the app are good enough as a bet is likely to make you use a more evidence-based approach.

Why do I think I am done here? Would I bet money/reputation on it? I have a checklist stuck to one of my screens, that I read and contemplate when I get to this point. When you have considered the options, you may decide to check some more things or ship the app. Either could be the right decision.
Then the app fails…
The next day you log on and find that the feature is b…

A h̶i̶t̶c̶h̶h̶i̶k̶e̶r̶'s̶ software tester's guide to randomised testing - Part 1

Mostly Harmless, I've talked and written about randomisation as a technique in software testing several times over the last few years. It's great to see people's eyes light up when they grok the concept and its potential. 
The idea that they can create random test data on the fly and pour this into the app step back and see what happens is exciting to people looking to find new blockers on their apps path to reliability.
But it's not long before a cloud appears in their sunny demeanour and they start to conceive of the possible pitfalls. Here are a few tips on how to avert the common apparent blockers. (Part 1) Problem: I've created loads of random numbers as input data, but how will I know the answer the software returns, is correct? - Do I have to re-implement the whole app logic in my test code?
Do you remember going to the fun-fair as a kid? Or maybe you recall taking your kids now as an adult? If so then you no doubt are familiar with the height restriction -…

DevOps and Software Testing.

Most of my recent work has been with DevOps teams. While in one sense DevOps is another evolution in software development. It also introduces some new skill requirements and responsibilities into the daily routine of a tester.


I've created a short video to highlight some of these changes and the opportunities they bring. It's not an exhaustive view of DevOps but it gives a highlight of what you could be working with.


While DevOps isn't a panacea to our software development problems, I have found that empowering teams with the ability to build and use the tools they need, can rapidly improve team morale and productivity.