Who does the pinpointing? Martin Jansson
Jerry Weinberg has, in his book ”Perfect Software and other illusions about testing”, expressed a very important observation, namely who is responsible for pinpointing the bug. The tester finds the bug, tries to reproduce it, then adds as much information that he/she has such as log files, configurations, test data and so on. When you estimate time for testing I think you most often consider the time that you do to find the bug and then make a report. As Jerry points out, the time it takes to pinpoint the exact location is not taken into consideration. It might also be unclear who has this responsibility.
This might not be an issue where there is high testability, when it takes little time to report the bug and when the actual pinpointing takes little time. When testing complex systems (a system consisting of several sub system, different hardware, many interfaces, a vast amount of ways to get information on what actually went wrong), the time for pinpointing can be a factor that is underestimated and that can really be a major issue in a project. Reproducing a bug can take several hours or possibly days. If you, after having reported the bug, are asked by the developer to add extra or missing information to the bug it might cost you days to get into the same erroneous state. In some cases it might be close to impossible because of missing equipment or missing/broken units. When it takes this long time it is inevitable that a conflict grows in the project. It is also inevitable that the testers start to doubt how much time they should spend on bug reporting (in the worst case scenario consider not doing it) and if they can help developers.
How do you handle pinpointing? Is there any need to increase testability to make it easier to report bugs and get information from the sysem? How have you discussed and communicated this within our projects? Is your testlead and project manager aware of this time sink and uncertainty?
If you want to taste some of Jerry Weinbergs knowledge I recommend reading this book.