Bill, the testing juggernaut

Especially with something as complicated as software, if it isn’t tested then I promise it will fail in some horrible way. We have learned from experience to take testing seriously.

10% of our entire organization is devoted to testing! His name is Bill and he loves lists and carefully checking them off. For this position you need to hunt for that rare individual who enjoys being organized, thorough, and never gets bored.

Our programmers are grateful that Bill finds their bugs before the customers do. At some companies the programmers hate the testers. That is insane. It’s like hating your doctor. Your drinking gave you cirrhosis of the liver. Your doctor is just giving you the diagnosis and explaining how to fix it.

Bug tracking software is crucial for testing to be efficient and effective. Otherwise the team will waste a lot of time. We used Bugzilla but now we use Fogbugz. Either is infinitely better than e-mail and scribbled post-it notes.

Internal tools such as the customer database should be tested as rigorously as commercial software. It’s easy to slack off on your internal tools because there are just a few users and they aren’t paying for it. If you do then the whole business starts to slow down as you lose track of customers, can’t trust the sales reports, etc.

Test your infrastructure, such as servers. A written plan is not the same as walking over to a server and unplugging it from the network. We learned that recently when a server melted down and we ran around with our pants on fire for a week.

You know who to blame if an organization is slack about testing. Yes, the boss! She or he has to allocate people, money for tools, and time for it to happen. Testing can’t be squeezed into people’s spare time.