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  • keith

Congratulations, software testers. We just re-invented risk management...

Updated: Oct 28, 2019

Young girl putting makeup on a family friend
"What do you do on computers?"

G'day All.

Firstly, welcome to Quality Risk Management. I hope this site will be of interest to readers as I attempt to consider the issues, right the wrongs, and hopefully laugh at those little things that happen during the life of a tester.

In fact, that's what I would like to initially address. You might have heard during your career that maligned statement,

"It's OK, they're only testers..."

We aren't. The correct term would be "software quality risk managers", thank you very much!

Our industry has spent the last 40 years re-inventing risk management. I'm lucky to have a group of mates who, like me, have spent time in the offsite "Meeting Room 6" with a glass of strong cider discussing the problems of the world. We have all come to the conclusion during these exploratory sessions we are looking too much at mitigation (the testing bit) without focusing on the other bits of risk management. We broadly discuss both identify and assess, but I feel as an industry, we're missing a trick here. When some training courses suggest we conduct testing "based on associated risk", the courses tend not to look at this any deeper.

We speak about "risk-based testing", and we all nod with wisdom. You know, where we spend time writing lots of tests that, because we're running out of project time, we elect not to run those "low priority" tests. There is so much here to pick apart, and I'll be attempting this in the near future.

Think of it this way - imagine you had to explain software testing to a precocious 4 year old. Where do we begin? Below is a recent conversation I had with the aforementioned child based on this very subject.

"Keith, what do you do on computers?"

"Well, when someone writes a computer programme, they sometimes make mistakes. It's my job to try and find those mistakes so they don't break the programme when you're using it."

"Why do they make mistakes?"

"Sometimes the programme is very big, with lots of people building it. And with all those people, there is a bigger chance someone will make a mistake."

"Ah, so those people aren't good at their job?"

"No, they are. But sometimes the mistakes are very hard to find, and they might not know where to look to find it."

"So you find all the mistakes they make?"

No, not all of them."

"Oh, so YOU'RE not good at your job?"

Is there any more of that strong cider left?

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