TMap Day 2014

On October 28, 2014 I visited Sogeti’s TMap Day.
This year’s focus was on their new book “Neil’s Quest for Quality”,
subtitled “A TMap© HD Story”.

This blog post describes my first impressions of that day.  When I have read the book I will either return to this post and adjust it or write a separate one on the books content.

Note: I have read the book and have adjusted the post.

The book is written as a novel. It contains “the TMap Human Driven story, consisting of a business novel, building blocks, Mr. Mikkel’s musings and contributions from the innovations board in testing”.

A quality-driven approach

The new TMap presents itself as a quality-driven approach that is captured in the TMap© Suite which consists of the following three parts:

  1. TMap Next
  2. TMap© HD
  3. Building Block described in the TMap HD book and gathered, maintained and extended on http://www.tmap.net

Inspired on Lean, Agile and DevOps

Both authors explained their contribution to the book and expressed that the elements (more detail later) are mostly inspired on the market move towards Agile and DevOps and the whole is based on a Lean approach to software development.

Aldert Boersma, one of the authors, positioned quality-driven as follows.

Position_TMapHD

The approach described in TMap HD© distinguishes five basic elements:

TMapHD_Elements

The (short) TMap HD descriptions for these concepts are:
People
Only people realize moving from “Testing according to TMap” to “Testing with TMap”.People with a broad knowledge of quality and testing that is.

Simplify
Make things as simple as possible – but not more simple than that.
Start small and work from there. A complicated process will only lose focus on the result.

Integrate
Integration with respect to testing denotes to a shared way of working, with a shared responsibility for quality. Testing is not a stand alone process.

Industrialize
Industrialization is important in improving testing and optimizing quality. Test tools are used to test more, more often, and faster.

Confidence
The goal of TMap HD© is providing confidence in IT solutions through a quality-driven approach. Confidence is the fifth element over and above all others.

Building Blocks

The first four elements should help you choose and apply building blocks that give (build) confidence. There is no prescribed set of blocks to use and main blocks themselves are seen as larger blocks of which smaller parts are chosen.

The now available building blocks are:

  • Test manager
    In the Test manager presentation the remark was made that fewer people will be TM but the activities will remain
  • Test manager in traditional
  • Assignment
  • Test organization
  • Test plan
  • Product risk analysis
    Oddly during the test management presentation and in the book this was called
    Product Risk & Benefit Analysis but that is not part of the website (yet)
  • Test strategy
  • Performance testing
  • Test approaches
  • Crowd-testing
  • Test varieties
    This replaces the current Test Levels and Test Types.
    They are divided in Experience based and Coverage based
  • Test manager in agile
  • Permanent test organisation
  • Model-based testing
  • Quality policy
  • Using test tools
  • Quality-driven characteristics
  • Integrated test organization
  • Reviewing requirements

As a kind of closing motto for that morning the following phrase was handed as a summary for test managers “Do not report trouble but offer choices for the client”.

So…

The TMap Day and the book have left me with rather distinct, and slightly contradicting, impressions.

A move in the right direction

Sogeti has embraced the fact that software development and with it software testing has changed over the last decades. The rise of Agile and Lean on the one side and the decline of Waterfall hasn’t gone unnoticed and the new brand certainly addresses these developments. There is also an influence that Sogeti has carefully tried to avoid in mentioning but that I believe is clearly present. That influence is Context-Driven Testing. In spite of naming it environment, circumstance or situation TMap HD shares the principle that based on the context software testing is and should be different and use that what best suites the context.

Criticism

Ever since TMap, and TMap Next and particularly since their training and certification program appeared there has been a lot of criticism. This criticism especially focusses on the rigid factory school view on software and the limited value of TMap certification. While Sogeti itself did not react to this much many of the authors, most of them no longer working for Sogeti, did. The common denominator in their response was that the content was misunderstood and it was never meant to be followed by the letter.

Next to a wider interest for and influence of new software development approaches the emergence of building blocks shows that parts of the criticism is taken to heart and that TMap should and can now be used more flexible.

Superficial

In the Netherlands we have a saying “Oude wijn in nieuwe zakken” (litterally Old wine in new wineskins) expressing that although it looks new it’s still the same old stuff. I believe this applies also TMap HD. Even with influence of Agile and Lean and the introduction of Building Blocks in the book I am still left the feeling that beneath the surface the nature of the solutions is still the same as before. This feeling is enhanced by the fact that TMap Next is still declared to be the core of the testing approach and that all existing training courses and certificates remain. Especially that last part has led to the rigid and limited testing approach that many Dutch testers employ.

So while in theory there is hope for positive change I fear that in reality nothing much will change for the better.

Seven questions – What questions do I have?

The previous two questions helped you to find why testing is necessary, what information you need to answer the first question (business value) and which test ideas help you deliver meaningful and relevant information. This post now extends this to areas that help you identify the circumstances in which you will have to do your work. It ends with a little advice that you should not take things for granted especially if you do not understand them.

DID-A-TEST

Originally called Jean-Paul’s test this mnemonic represents a set of surveying questions that helps you identify working conditions. Once you have the answers to these questions you should check if and if so how this influences your ability to test and the ability to give more or less rich information to your stakeholders. You can use these questions to identify  boundaries and constraints to your testing possibilities and address them or at least be and make others aware of them. These questions are by no means exhaustive, but in my opinion they form a good starting point in exploring your test context.

Are the Developers available?

Developers are physically close of far from you. They are more or less available in time or more or less organizationally accessible to testers. The ability or inability to work together with development can influence your risk assessments, your insight into risk areas, your knowledge about development solutions and what is or is not covered by development testing activities. Additionally when addressing developers it is good to know the preferences and willingness of each developer with regard to working with testers.

How soon do you have access to Information?

Of course you can use the FEW HICCUPPS mnemonic (James Bach, Michael Bolton) to improve and expand your test ideas, but gathering information about the intended product or solution is a main starting point and important reference to work with. So getting access to the sources of information or even better being involved in the information gathering should start as soon as possible.

Do you control the test Data?

My interpretation of test data here is wide in the sense that I do not only mean the ability to enter different types of inputs, in different variations and quantities. I also mean the ability to set up and load data sets creating test scenarios. And the ability to set or remove states in the software. Being able to control the data is beneficial in speeding up test execution, creating typical test situations and helps to quickly repeat the test case if necessary.

Having control of the test data is only one side of the story. The other side of the story is that you need to find the right ‘Trigger Data‘ to use. Trigger Data is any data item, set of data or data state specifically created and used to invoke, enable or execute your test case (scenario).

Are the Analysts available?

Like the developers the availability, both physical and in time, of the (business) analysts has an impact on the way you can interact with them. And like the developers analysts will have preferences and are more or less willing to work with testers. The impact of this might however be larger as analysts are often the first source of information about the products intended functionality and its means of satisfying the stakeholders needs and wants. They are often also a sort of gate(keepers) in communicating to business stakeholders. In that sense they can make a testers live more or less easy. Especially if testers are not expected to go outside of the projects boundaries.

Are the (other) Testers available?

In my experience working as the only tester on a project has an impact both on the way you work and to some extend to the quality of your work. Being able to pair, share thoughts or just have a chat with another tester can help you reconsider your work and develop new or different test ideas. The tester doesn’t necessarily have to be in your team to have this effect. Having other testers in your team brings both the benefit (and sometimes burden) of being able to divide work, get fast feedback on test ideas or test results and the possibility to focus or divert away from your strengths and weaknesses as a tester.

Do you have a quiet work Environment?

This question addresses two different aspects. The first aspect is the infrastructure. Do you know what it’s components are? Do you have a separated test environment? And if so are you its only user? Do you know how to get access to it? Are you allowed to change it yourself or do you need others to do it for your? Is your test environment similar to the real production environment?

Secondly it addresses the circumstances of your workplace. Do you work in isolation, in cubicles, or in a large office garden? Is your work uninterrupted or are you (in)voluntarily involved into other work processes and activities? Does that influence your performance and well-being? What the influences are obviously depends on you as person and the real circumstances. But it is wise to take note and consider possible consequences. There are many studies into this field. Here are few articles that might trigger your interest: “Designing the work environment for worker health and productivity” by Jacqueline C. Vischer;  “Interrupt Mood” by Brian Tarbox or “Where does all that time go” by Michael Bolton.

Are the Stakeholders (that matter) available?

Stakeholders come in many forms and shapes, but they have one thing in common. They are in someway involved in the creation and/or use of the software solution. That not only means they need to be informed about the product that also means that they have expectations and opinions about the product itself, what it is used for, and what the products needs to able to do to make it valuable to them. As a tester you should identify these expectations and opinions and tailor your information about the product so that it is meaningful to them.

In theory the effort you put into gathering, tailoring and presenting that information is based on how much the stakeholders matters to the product, the project and to some extend to you the tester. I say in theory because to do so in practice the stakeholders need to be available and accessible. If they are not or if it is difficult you should take the extra time and effort into account of your testing and test reporting.

Is there (mandatory) Tooling?

There are many types of tools available in the market to capture requirements, store test cases, log test execution or manage bugs. And likewise there are many tools available to use during testing. As a tester you need to find out which tools there are, which tools you are allowed to use, and which tools are mandatory to use. You will might not know all the tools you are faced with or are unable to use a tool that you already know and like. In that case you will have to get used to the ‘new’ tooling and learn to use it. Additionally many tools have inbuilt workflows and processes that take away time from actual testing. As a tester you should be aware of this and take this into account when testing.

Poutsma principle

Whenever I start on a new test assignment or pick up a new work item I need to search and find its purpose, its meaning and I need to understand how the chosen requirements offer a solution to the problem that is solved. Sometimes that is really easy.

Say you visit the 36th International Carrot Conference before going to CAST 2013.  You come home and decide to sell carrots for hungry rabbits online and you want to vary the amount of carrots or differentiate the type of carrot for different breeds of rabbits. You will need something like drop down list or input field to identify the different rabbit breeds.  And except for the sudden urge to sell carrots this is fairly easy to understand and test.

If however you are asked to test the software implementation of calculating results for a new Credit Risk Model used by an international bank you will have a lot more to understand. If so I remind myself of the Poutsma Principle:

If something is too complex to understand, it must be wrong.

I use this principle to remind myself to keep asking questions until I either understand it or except the argumentation of it as proof. In either case it helps me to break down requirements to a level that makes me confident enough to start testing and daring enough  so that I can also use my personal addition to the principle

And it is your job (as a tester) to proof it wrong.

If you want to know more about the Poutsma Principle you can follow this link.

Questioning Testing

This years EuroSTAR 2013 theme – Questioning Testing

I was a speaker at last years EuroSTAR and I am still enthusiastic and proud to have been there. Being a speaker adds very much to the experience and since I believe I have still more to share with the community I plan to enter for a talk in this years event. Something I  can recommend to everybody willing to learn, share and invest the necessary time.

Sending in a good abstract is however not so easy and needs next to having a good idea also the ability to write a good proposal. Last December, to share how we managed to write proposals that allowed us to go to many of conferences as a speaker  Huib Schoots, Derk-Jan de Grood and I held a short workshop on proposal writing.  Derk-Jan wrote a small blog post about it. I am continuing some of that effort in this post.

Last week Anne-Marie Charrett was so kind to review one my proposals and give me some good tips. During that session I also showed her a mind map that I had made in while preparing. At some point during our session she pointed out to me that perhaps it was a good idea to share the mind map with the community. I hadn’t really thought of it myself but it immediately struck me as a good idea. So to help you on your way, and even at the risk of bringing in competition, I would like to share with you the mind map that I made while preparing my proposal. It summarizes the information that Michael Bolton and Allan Richardson shared on writing an abstract.

EuroSTAR Call for papers 2013

So good luck and maybe see you there!