The dodgy test lead Henrik Emilsson

Not too long ago I had a test lead that I pretty soon recognised as someone that didn’t share my philosophy in software testing.

One day I reported to him that I had run all regression tests that were assigned to me.

All tests were executed on the same build (we had monthly iterations and this was done in the first week); and a couple of bugs were found and reported. I also verified a couple of bugs that I had reported earlier and that had been fixed and included in the current build. The suite took 3 days to execute and it consisted of rigorously documented tests that had little to offer to your fantasy. The system that was tested did not have any UI and the final results could only be checked via a secondary tool and/or by monitoring several log files; so it was a bit cumbersome to test.

I guess that I was pretty fast or efficient because the suite was supposed to take 5 days or so to run, so I was rather glad to have done this in almost half the time; and believe me when I say that I wasn’t sloppy.
And especially if it is a rather boring task I tend to think that it is better to do it as quick as possible, without being sloppy, in order to get rid of the boring stuff.

Well, after I had said that I was finished I expected to hear from my test lead what to do next.
Perhaps having a look at the new functionality that we should have tested last iteration but didn’t have time to do (i.e. we were a bit behind the schedule)?
Or perhaps helping the other testers out with their suite?
Maybe verify some bug fixes reported by others that were included in the build?

No, this was nothing that he said. Instead his response was:
“Hmm, OK… Could you test it again?” And I saw that he was trying me with this sentence because I caught a nervous smile in his face that he was trying to hide.

I just shook my head and said “Are you serious? What sense would it make to run it twice?”

He did not have any good answer to that. And of course I did not run the same tests once again…

But that incident made me wonder how many times he had done that to other people before. And in general, I wondered how many test suites are rerun several times on exactly the same configuration just in order to make it look good for some reason.

5 Comments
Rikard Edgren March 23rd, 2009

This reminds me of a person stating that the best way to perform testing is to create all test cases up front, and then executing exactly the same test for each iteration/build.

This might be good if 100% pass is what you are looking for, but that doesn’t say anything about how much testing contributed to the actual result.

Tony Bruce March 24th, 2009

So what did you end up doing? And was this the only example that made him dodgy?

Henrik Emilsson March 24th, 2009

I helped a colleague with his test suite and I think that I also had a look at the new functionality.
But the main point was that his honest suggestion was to rerun the same test suite once again. He tried to fool me into running the same tests twice.

What if I hadn’t objected?
What if I hadn’t cared about the time and cost in the project? And what if I had done it twice even if I understood that it was rather pointless to do it?

This was not the only example of him being dodgy, but I need to save some stories for later. :-)

Joel Montvelisky March 24th, 2009

This only comes to prove that sometimes people fill posts they are not really supposed to be in, for example only a person capable of Leading should fill the position of Team Lead.

In any case, these are the kind of situations where taking the initiative can be productive, as long as you also get the credit for it.
Did you do something about this team lead? Did the situation eventually change?

Can’t wait for your next stories in the series…

Adam White March 24th, 2009

I had heard James Bach and Michael Bolton spout off about this behavoir and especially the one in the last comment by Rikard. I thought they were full of it at first – but then I saw it first hand.

I’ve since experienced people not only writing their test cases up front but also deciding what pass % is acceptable for ship before they even get the product in their hands. I was floored. I didn’t realize that this was possible and that someone would actually do that. Counter-intuitive to how I’m used to working.

Scary stuff. Turns out James and Michael weren’t full of it – it really happens.

Adam White