Why I dislike test management

As I am enjoying these short, not very nuanced, not extremely well thought out blog posts, here’s another one.

Some people seem to think that it makes sense to think of testing as a project within a project, so they apply project management tools and techniques to testing. This simply doesn’t work.

Because what are the tools and techniques do they use? A plan with milestones no one is ever going to make as unexpected stuff tends to happen. A budget that is too tight because it’s based on that same plan. Entry criteria that are not met, but never mind, we’re running out of time so you need to start testing anyhow. And finally exit criteria that we fail to meet as well, but hey we’ll go live anyway, because the software really isn’t that bad (or so we hope).

So in the end, a lot of time and effort is spent on producing documents that are of little use in guiding the actual testing effort. The only thing they do is give some people a warm and fuzzy illusion of control.

But why doesn’t this test management thing work? In my opinion it’s quite simple: testing on its own doesn’t really do anything. There is no real product at the end of testing; we only produce information.

Of course, one could argue that the product of software testing is a test report, but that’s just weird. No one cares about your test report, they care about the software, about the product. Or rather (and more inspiring for us software testers): they don’t care about the documents you produce, they care about the service you provide. And that gets lost when you focus on the test project instead of on the software project.

p.s. Something is bugging me about this post, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is. Ideas anyone?

This post was originally published here.