dinsdag 26 november 2013

Irish Luck

Hope the 'luck of the Irish' will rub off on me this week because so far It's been an unlucky week indeed.

I think Murphy's Law is with me currently and hope to leave it there...


Yesterday, during my two-weekly hospital drill, I hurt my big toe. At first, although it hurt a lot, I didn't think much of it, but soon it became really annoying and I called my doctor. He thought it couldn't be broken due to the cause, but since it hurt a lot, he send me to the First Aid post in the hospital to make some X-rays just to reassure me that it was fine... Well... It wasn't ...it WAS (IS) broken. So  they decided that I had to get a special sort of shoe.

And I waited and waited... And after an hour my husband went to the desk to ask how long we had to wait, since he got very hungry ... And they were surprised we were still there... They'd forgotten us and after ten minutes I got my 'shoe' and was off to home...


Today, I had to fly to Ireland for SoftTest. When I got to the check in I kept getting the message that the passenger couldn't be found. I used several ways to check in, but it didn't validate. So I checked my original ticket and got white around the nose... It was booked for the 5th of November , luckily they had booked my return flight correctly, but now I had a new problem: World Ticket Center doesn't have a desk at Schiphol and frankly: although the send me wrong ticket, I had to check it when it came in. So the money's gone alas. 


But I had to find out there wasn't a WTC desk at Schiphol because different schiphol personnel kept sending me all over the place, so I hobbled from departures 2, to 3 to 1 just to get back at KLm in 2 where I was advised to get to the servicedesk and when I finally got to the desk to hear I had to go to AerLingus desk in departures 1. I have never walked this much on schiphol when I was healthy, and I can assure you, it's no picknick with a broken toe either. 


But at AerLingus I could still buy a ticket for the flight I had planned to take and now I'm on the plane on my way to the runway. 

At least the Irish cabin crew already rubbed me a bit when I told them my story, I hope the Irish luck will have rubbed off on me a bit! 



maandag 13 mei 2013

TestNet SpringEvent 2013 - Part 1 - The Tutorial

Today is 13th of May, SpringEvent of the Dutch TestNet. I have started my journey early today to get to Nieuwegein's NBC where it's held. I'm travelling by public transport, which goes perfectly well until I get to Utrecht Central Station, where the fast-tram stop has been moved from front to back and I didn't get the signing (is there any in the stations hall?) and I end up looking for the changed location and missing the tram, resulting in delay...aargh... well I got to the venue eventually and on time, I guess that's the most important.

The day starts with the tutorials, since it's my part-time day and I won't have to visit a client in the morning this time, I'm taking the opportunity to attend one. I chose 'Automating Production Simulations for Added Value' by Scott Barber (Twitter:@sbarber). Here are some 'blogsnippets from that tutorial':
Scott is after that telling about is path which he followed to get where he's now. I'm wondering where this is going, is there a message where this is going to or just getting to know him.... it takes a while but the point is: he didn't follow any programming or testing education but he looks at things differently than 'the norm' and we're about to look at things differently during this tutorial and he shows the image about 'nothing can stop automation'.


There's loads of 'me' from Scott, but little 'what's in it for me' till now, but anticipation is building when the following is said;  when you're taking your first steps in automation he's going to 'melt the brain', I sure hope so. The audience is really tame till this moment, there's not THAT much interaction although Scott is asking questions and relates to the knowns in the audience. I guess it takes a while to pick up steam.

Next is the following comic
and the following mind-map, which we can add to (please also look at this map for tutorial content):
http://www.mindmeister.com/nl/291649893?t=WVVr4hE3PO (I also made a PDF of the 12.52 h. version which will be available on 'funtestic.nl' later on...)

What's the point : "I don't care what "framework" you use, they all miss something important!
He's now mentioning the amazing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specialisterne 

Tester's TIP; save a webpage that has loads of validations, save it to your desktop, open it and delete (most of) the javascript (it still has to submit though!), open it in your browser, type in everything you want and submit... and you bypass all the front-end / pre-commit data validations. 

"Most test automation lack narrowly defined Oracles to detect almost anything of value!" is now shown on the sheet, there's also a discussion about all the shades of grey between YES or NO. (My thoughts on this are: shades of grey are just very small defined YES or NO's ....even if you have a deviation of minus 10% or plus 10% it is still a YES/NO question... it falls between these margins or not)

 "An automated test's value is mostly unrelated to the specific purpose for which it was written. It's the accidental things that count: the untargeted bugs that it finds" 
Don't stop just because your automated checks work. Add more value with production simulations.
Wow, nice/surprising fact: ... only 56% of traphic on websites are really humans, the rest is bots and spiders.

Seems to me that automation is all about very nifty 'if then elses' and same as very small yes-no's mentioned earlier; the smaller those get (more elaborated) the more 'sentient' a test /might/  seem... It's becoming cool when this is combined with random data input so flows are followed differently every time.

It's now 12.44, that means I only have about a quarter of an hour left of this tutorial and we're running through models (see mind map for the types!). It's time for me to round up this blogpost. The tutorial has been a bit disappointing for me in one way that the three quarters of introduction could have been used to tell more about content than intro; the tutorial was little hands-on and mostly highlevel. Feels like of the 4 hours, only 2 hours were used effectively on content, which is a pity, because the topic is interesting enough.
Well I guess my expectancy was a bit higher and although I'm a bit disappointed I guess I'm inspired enough to search for more info, which is something too! Now signing of for the closure of this tutorial and making myself ready for the second part of the SpringEvent this afternoon and evening!








donderdag 18 april 2013

Client Based Testing ['golden' oldie]



This was my first start of an article that went with an abstract (for TestNet NL)... Because I was so 'wet behind the ears' back then and a relative 'new' tester, the presentation became a fiasco (to put it mildly) with me more in tears than in a happy mood... It can happen, but I didn't give up! ~Remember that things don't always go perfect the first time around...
As I read it now, I'm still behind the matter and it's still very relevant. I think I was 'before the time'... enjoy ... I'm curious what you find of the stuff... (date of last revision: fourth of February 2008...text below is UNchanged!, presentation was held on 'Fall event of TestNet in September 2008). It wasn't completely finished either; I guess I was too 'frightened' after the presentation fiasco to push ahead...still it gives a good idea of what I had in mind back then...

~~~~

Testing has been a hot item the last couple of years. More and more businesses are starting to understand the importance of testing to mitigate their risks and establish a certain amount of quality of their product(s).
Over the years testing has evolved from ‘an activity done just before production’ to ‘a structured process of measuring characteristics of a process or system’.
This structured process is - for its part- based on Risks (Risk Based Testing) or Requirements (Requirement Based Testing). Also methods have been developed that are involving ‘the business’ or ‘the management’ more because typically one seems to think that the prioritization of risk or requirements are best set by ‘the business’ or ‘the management’.
Testers or test managers repeatedly seem to fail to involve the ‘real’ client when developing policies, strategies or plans. Not the one who pays the money but the people who are meant to work with the product and/or processes should have an important contribution in this stage. Especially in companies where requirements are poor and there is no time or money to develop these (for example Agile testing) or in companies where there are too little or too many stakeholders to determine the prioritization of risks (layering, budgets etc.)
Hence the introduction of Client Based Testing, or – in short- CBT. CBT should be approached in two ways; from the testers view and from the clients view.

Firstly the Testers view, or in particular, the test managers view. At setting up the test planning mostly risks or requirements are used for determining the activities to be performed for testing, when these cannot be produced by the organization the manager will mostly look for specifications and/or use-cases and will set up his tests on these bases. Forgetting a very important and very accurate source, namely: the end-users or production-unit of the company. Even though the British standard provides for this group of people by the means of being a test bases, most test managers ‘forget’ to involve these group of people. In practice I’ve found that this has a couple of reasons.

  1. The ‘old school’ tester (now manager) gives a natural preference to non-human input or non-communicative input, having been a programmer in the past
  2. The test manager (formally non-test) has a natural tendency not to involve the ‘common people’ and always communicate with people higher in the organizational hierarchy
  3. People ‘on the floor’ have a tendency not to have any time available (or otherwise said: have a natural dislike to management-people and or new software being developed (and tested) which implies the possibility of rendering them unnecessary) or do everything not to help (on which the reaction of the test manager is to ignore them in the first place)

Client based testing obligates the tester to develop more communicating skills but it also requires qualities like empathy, pliability and the ability to translate jargons.

Secondly the Clients view. Some years ago I received a questionnaire called TUSK which Isabel Evans had developed, was still developing. The TUSK list is based on the SUMI list for software but in this case the questions are translated to how the client or organization experiences the tester of test team and what part of the testing activities should be improved to the clients liking.  I used this list – as a pilot to write an article on TUSK usage - in different organizations and found that not the information the answers provided helped the most in improving the test process, but the time spent with the customer and listening tot the client was the most helpful. The client really felt understood and was more willing to participate and cooperate with the test team on improving their deliverables and processes.

vrijdag 14 december 2012

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard



For those of you who haven't received my mail (DUTCH)

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.  ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie


Nog twee weken en dan is mijn laatste dag bij Capgemini. Na iets meer dan 8 jaar neem ik afscheid van een prachtig bedrijf waar ik met veel passie en toewijding heb gewerkt en natuurlijk ook van jou als collega of relatie in deze hoedanigheid.

Op 1 november 2004 startte mijn loopbaan bij Capgemini FS B57, dat was toentertijd de testpractice (tezamen met BI) en ik verloor mijn hart aan het prachtige testvak, waardoor ik er nooit ben weggegaan. Hoe de dingen ook veranderden in de organisatie; de testpractice was altijd mijn thuishonk.  Ik begon als testanalist en kreeg de kans om uit te groeien naar de rollen die ik nu achterlaat : Leader van de FS NBS Testing & Technologies CoP, trekker van de SIG BI Testing, Leader van de CoP Testing NL, deelnemer van de CTO Office als testexpert en natuurlijk ook ‘gewoon’ als testmanager. Een hoogtepunt was dan ook zeker de erkenning die ik kreeg als Medewerker van het kwartaal Q1 in 2010 en daarmee de nominatie voor medewerker van het jaar.  Ik had dit nooit kunnen bereiken als ik niet collega’s had gehad als ik heb gehad; met passie voor een vak kom je ver, maar nimmer zó ver; dank je wel daarvoor!

Het besluit om Capgemini te verlaten heb ik zeker niet gemakkelijk genomen en het is dan ook met een beetje pijn in het hart dat ik weg ga. Per 1 januari ga ik echter aan de slag bij Turien & Co. Assuradeuren, uiteraard in het testvak, als Teamleider Testing. Het bedrijf ligt een kwartiertje fietsen/ met de stadsbus van mijn woning af en dat is dan ook de hoofdreden dat ik overstap, naast dat deze uitdaging mij ook gewoon leuk lijkt uiteraard!
Zoals gezegd blijf ik actief in het testvak, velen van jullie zal ik dan ook zeker in de toekomst nog tegenkomen op diverse vakbijeenkomsten zoals TestNet en testconferenties zoals de Nederlandse Testdag en zelfs wellicht EuroSTAR.  Mocht je me nog willen benaderen dan kun je me mailen op: funtestic.fanatic@gmail.com (en tot 28 december nog op nathalie.van.delft@capgemini.com) en uiteraard kun je me ook vinden op LinkedIn.

Van velen van jullie heb ik persoonlijk afscheid kunnen nemen of kan ik dit de komende week nog doen, van nog meer collegae helaas niet. Ik wens jou alle goeds toe in carrière en privé situatie.

maandag 5 november 2012

Best conference year so far...

It's been ages since I wrote a blog, I guess it's one of those things that moves to the background when very busy...
So, because EuroSTAR 2012 is about to begin and I'm planning some blogging there I really had to update with the things about the conferences i visited last year :-)


From March 12-14th I've attended the Belgium Testing Days at the Sheraton (Conference) Hotel in Brussels (Airport) and from May 7th-10th I was in Norway for the FreeTest 2012 conference held
on the boat from Trontheim to Bronnoysund the first day and the second day in Bronnoysund itself, on May 30th I attended the TestNet SpringEvent with it's 15th anniversary. Last but not least: I was at Expo:QA in Madrid as conference chair!



Belgium Testing Days


This year I was invited to the Belgium Testing Days by Mieke Gevers. I hadn't send in a paper, since I hadn't had a sufficiently worked out topic yet at the time for the call for papers.
I find I have to have an all ready and interesting topic to send in and not just send in a paper just to get to go to a conference. So I hoped for my boss to grant me the ticket to go.
By the time I had to send in my proposal to my manager though, Mieke had contacted me already. The theme of the conference was 'Software Testing versus Quality Assurance' and she had a need for
two people who could do an antagonistic gig during the conference. As you can guess... I was person number one and Daniel Maslyn was person number two.

I arrived on Monday afternoon the day before the conference itself, the hall was already buzzing with vendors and companies setting up their booths and the hotel staff setting up the
tables and coffeebar for the Tuesday. In the room I found the little gift that Mieke and Nadine as organisers had left, last year I was also pleasantly surprised by this little gesture that
makes the expierence as speaker at the Belgium Testing Days even more special, it's just so heart warming to feel so welcome just by these little details.
The evening is spend with all other speakers at an excellent restaurant in Brussel city center and during the dinner there's plenty of time to get to know some other speakers and people from the
organization of Diaz Hilterscheid.

The Tuesday is an exciting day for me. The gig that Daniel and I are supposed to do is part of the opening speech by Mieke. Mieke has arranged jackets for us that are part silver and part black
and hightops - one black, one silver - to wear and emphasize our roles. Daniel and I are the antoganists or friendly-coexisters (?) of 'Software Testing and Quality Assurance'. We have to
burst in the main auditorium during Mieke's speech heavily debating whether Software Testing and Quality Assurance are the same or are completely different. And so we do... but a little bit
too early. We were supposed to go in a couple of lines into the theme explanation, instead we thought we had to go in after a couple of lines. No harm done though... the message came across
and Mieke is an experienced enough chair to correct any glitches during the speech.

During the conference the task that Daniel and I have is to walk around with an iPad each and to let people write quotes on the pad, take pictures and even movies. They are displayed directly on the
mainscreen in the expohall, well.. from the pad that takes / has the control anyway. So we can even have a 'fight' over whom of us has the screen-control from the pad :-)

The upside is that I got to be at a great conference, but the downside is definitely that I wasn't able to attend all the tracks. So I only got to see a limited amount of them. The ones I saw
were excellent though! Belgium Testing Days has a great offer of high-quality (for me at least) and high-standard (level) tracks, which also makes choices to make hard :-)

The first one I fully attended was

I also attended 'Twist and thaste' by Luuk Steffermans

And Artful testing by Zeger van Hese, in which one of the things that I took with me was that knowing some more info about a certain painting makes it more clear what certain things means, which
can also be applied to software testing. Another one was about perspective, depending how you look at things from your own perspective you will discover different things. The presentation from
Zeger can be found on the interwebs on Prezi.

Tuesday was ended by drinks, a stand-up comedian performance (after the success of last time they did again a marvelous job!) and a very good dinner at the expoHall.

On wednesday I went back home again, my brain filled with loads of ideas and inspiration.



FreeTest or The Most Northern Testing Conference in the world

How many testing conferences do you know that are held on a cruiseship? Well, now you know one: It's the FreeTest - the worlds Northernmost testconference (http://www.dataforeningen.no/forside.194266.no.html).
This conference is small, but I found it a most impressive and fun conference indeed. I travelled to Trontheim the first day where we boarde the cruiseship on which the conference was held the first day.


On the ship there was an auditorium where you could also look outside, so while listening to the tracks (no choices to be made :-) ) you could also sometimes sneak a peek outside and watch the beautiful fjords.
Between the tracks there was an excellent lunch in the cruiseship's restaurant (again with magnificent views!). I had my track on the ship which was an experience on itself, I loved the responses from the audience and afterwards there was plenty of time to relax on the deck and have discussions with the participants of the conference.




After midnight we arrived at Brønnøysund where day two of the conference was held. THere was a bit of a wait at the hotel to check in, but that didn't spoil the fun at all :-)
The next day you had to make choices; one part of the tracks was held at a room in the hotel and the other one at the office of the BBREG. I attende the first three tracks in the Thon Hotel:
Success story of automation test with Open Source tools in Vianova Systems by Yanhong Peng, Automated functional load testing: Grinder + Webdriver by Vegard Hartmann and Øyvind Kvangardsnes and Cheap and Free tools by Lloyd Roden. I loved the tracks being so practical and usable for daily practice; I could really get something out of it to use at my job - that is - if I would have been in an environment where automation would have been applied, but alas I was not, so I put it in my testerstoolbox to use when the time is right.
In between was a brilliant lunch at BBREG; those people who work there really have a magnificent view on the fjords during their lunch! I really loved it.

In the afternoon I took a track off to wander through the village (both tracks held then were in Norwegian, so I wouldn't have understood it anyway), which takes about a half hour to see all :-). The last track I attended was that of Mieke Gevers at the BBREG auditorium about performance testing, which I found really interesting because it was all about the results from those performance testing and how to extract valuable information from them instead of false positives.
After the tracks all testers where rallied up to enter a bus and we were driven off to a mountain with a hole in it; it was fun to see (and unique!) all those testers climbing that mountain :-) I think it was a first to see 80+ testers on top of one mountain!


The climb had made us hungry so we were driven off to a restaurant (best Aquavit brewery in the neighbourhood) to enjoy a really good norwegian meal with very good fish.
When we arrived back at the village of Brønnøysund a group of testers decided to visit the local pub and Michael Bolton, who was booked for his Rapid Software Testing course on two days after the conference itself, brought his mandolin. It was a very cosy and well spend evening there.
The next day I travelled back home again (it was a first to be able to walk to the airport from my hotel in the center of a town :-) ) and reflected on what I found a really well organized small conference with an excellent choice of tracks; I would certainly recommend this conference to any tester no doubt!



SpringEvent Testnet

At the spring event, which was a jubilee version due to the fact TestNet celebrated it's 15th birthday, I didn't get the chance to visit any tracks except the kenotes. I was on 'booth-duty' handing out 'Cap'puccino's and Caramel Lattes. The presentations can be downloaded here: https://www.testnet.org/viewcategory/230.html and the photoalbum can be viewed here: https://www.testnet.org/category/23-voorjaarsevenement-2012-15-jaar-jubileum.html.
The keynotes I attended were from Geoff Thomson & Bob vd Burgt about the history (and future) of testing and -off course-  the introduction of the TestNet jubilee book 'Bepaal je koers' for which I made the 'Mappa Testi' contribution!







I always love the TestNet events; it's great to see so many enthusiastic fellow testers who have a passion for the craft! I think we are lucky in the Netherlands to have so many of them and that they share their passion at the TestNet meetings.


Expo:QA 2012.

Expo:QA 2012 was held in Madrid this year, I had the honour of being the chair of this edition, which meant that I've been busy with the program (together with Gwen Stewart and Raynald Korchia) since about February this year.
Being a chair of a conference gives a whole different viewpoint of such an event, in stead of your focus being of getting the most our of the conference for yourself, you now have the focus on providing those tracks that will benefit the attendees the most. Besides that, there's also many (delicate) choices to be made where you have to balance topic, country, company and have to take into consideration the vendors; a conference isn't cheap so keeping sponsors happy is also important.



I had some 'behind-the-scene' experience of a conference of my time being a program committee member of the EUroSTAR conference, but being the chair of a conference makes you even more aware - and more appreciative of- the things that have to be arranged and what a large and exhausting task it is, and I have to mention here that being a chair doesn't give you the most hard tasks; that credit goes to the organisers themselves.

Well. I arrived on a Monday. The Expo:QA was held in a huge conference hotel not far from the airport; I always find it very nice that your place of stay is the same of the conference itself, it gives a bit more peace of mind knowing you don't have to worry about transport to the venue and that you'll be there on time.
The excellent weather gave me the opportunity to drink a cocktail in the restaurants terrace at 23.30 with still 26 Degrees Celsius on the thermometer, so I guess that I couldn't wish for a better start then this.
On Tuesday tutorials were held (a.o. Paul Gerrard and Derk-Jan de Grood) and when I visited the coffee breaks and lunches I saw people who were really wrapping their minds on the contents of the tutorials and heavy debating, while still excited. I like those reactions; it - for me- is telling that people are challenged and that is exactly what I intended when I invited those speakers for the tutorials.

Wednesday and Thursday were the conference days themselves. As last time: the food is so amazing at this conference. Lunch is a tapas-style buffet and personnel is walking around constantly with small delicious snacks. The last Expo (held in 2010) I was awed by these perks of this conference, this time I certainly was again. Besides the tracks (I don't want to boast, but: good choices :-) ), the food and the ambiance really make this conference a 'wanna-go!'.

To top it all: on Wednesday we were all brought to the Madrid Zoo and the Gala dinner was held at the most spectacular place I could imagine; in the Penguin viewing area!
The food was good, alas not as good as the tapas at the conference; but I guess having a dinner at a Penguin place means the food has to travel a bit when it gets to the table; I thought it was a minor flaw related to the location.


I also experienced the downsides of being a chair; when something goes wrong; YOU are the face everybody sees and complains to, nothing personal of course, but it certainly gets to you. One of the speakers didn't show; luckily Julian Harty (who was a attendee mind!) jumped up to do his Mobile Testing track, it turned out to be one of the more popular tracks that day. We also provided a 'on the fly' gathering on request of attendees to do more Agile, between the last track of Wednesday and the gala dinner we got a room at the conference centre and a.o Gwen organised a format where experienced and non-experienced people could exchange questions- and answers on Agile Testing, I thought it was a marvellous example of the dynamics that can occur at a conference.
On Thursday evening I travelled back home again, leaving the Warm Madrid behind and being totally knackered. It was an experience to never forget and I'm happy I got this opportunity of a lifetime.

Well... that's a rapid and - for me- rather short summary of the conferences I went to last year... now I'm ready to go the EuroSTAR in my home country NL en blog without feeling guilty of not having written about the others :-)
Hope to see you there!



woensdag 5 september 2012

The EuroSTAR Dutch Ambassadors invite you to drinks…

Dear Testers
The 20th time edition of the EuroSTAR conference will be held in November. With Amsterdam as location, two Dutch Online Ambassadors and two country Ambassadors, the Dutch Test scene is very well represented. However, it could be even better …We would  like to see you all at the conference.  It’s a great opportunity to get ideas, to take cognizance of the latest trends and get to know new colleagues.

On Monday, September 17th we (the ambassadors and EuroSTAR team) organize a pre-conference drink. Testers of the Netherlands, whether you’re already planning to come to the conference or not. Come to the Winkel van Sinkel in Utrecht.  Meet new and known test colleagues, toast on a beautiful conference and …..win a free ticket to the conference.

Date: September 17
Location: De winkel van sinkel, Oudegracht 158​​, 3511 AZ Utrecht.
(see http://www.dewinkelvansinkel.nl/contact/)
Time: 18.00-20.00
Cost:  None, free admission and drinks
Extra: We organize a small quiz, the winner gets a free ticket for EuroSTAR 2012.  

Registration: send an email to derkjandegrood@valori.nl and report with how many people you are attending.

We love to see you,
On behalf of the Dutch ambassadors and the EuroSTAR team,

Bob Van de Burgt
Derk-Jan de Grood
Nathalie van Delft
Ard Kramer
the EuroSTAR team

dinsdag 27 maart 2012

ToPing in Testing

Some people might know that my biggest hobby is 'being a Casualty Simulation Victim' and since it's basically 'testing' Medical staff (and other first responders) I had the opportunity to extract some very valuable lessons from the Casualty Simulation scene to use in my work as Software Tester. This is a more comprehensive description of one of those lessons so that you might benefit from it; it's called the Time Out Protocol, or ToP in short.

Let me explain where it comes from. In a hospital somewhere in the world, eye surgery was performed numerous times a year. At that time a switch was made at a rate of nine times per year. You read it correctly: nine times a year the left eye was operated on while it should have been the right one (or vice versa). The hospital started an investigation in which one of the findings was that the most risk was run when transferring the patient from one discipline to the next. They implemented a check-list with short, simple questions, which had to be answered by - for example- the physician that transferred the patient to the OR personnel just before the patient went into the operating room in presence of this patient and with the patient still conscience. The questions where - among others- 'name of patient', 'date of birth', 'which eye?', 'diagnosis' and 'allergies?'. You can imagine that when you hear 'left' in stead of 'right' in this transfer, that you as patient will respond 'wait a minute!; it should be right!'. After implementing this check-list only one switch was made every two years. When they investigated the cause of this switch, it proved that the protocol was not used.

The check-list was adopted by numerous hospitals after the success in the first. Although useful in all situations within the treatment chain, it seemed especially useful in emergency situations.
When checking into this particular aspect; there seemed to be a correlation between the stress levels and things you might forget in those situations; the check-list provided a moment rest to clear the minds of the medical staff, facilitated the ability to take a moment to create a bird-eye view and (using a second check-list with specific steps for that particular emergency) provide a checkpoint to verify that every possible action was taken to treat the patient. The check-list was named 'Time Out Protocol', using it only takes a minute tops. Now, a minute may seem long in an emergency situation, but the minute used to elaborate on things is earned back many times over when thinking of the harm that could have be done to the patient when something was forgotten in the treatment...

During one of the first emergency drills I participated in, I saw this check-list being used and I was impressed by the effect it had in the room and with the medical staff; it really was a moment of calmness and retrospective and provided a very clear to-do-next list of activities. I couldn't help but wonder if the same kind of 'protocol' could be used within my work as software tester. I took a copy of the Time Out Protocol, in short: ToP and looked carefully at the questions on it.
It seemed that there were some generic questions on the list, that apply to each situation when handling a patient, and there were very specific questions on the list, which only apply to the discipline using it. One of the conclusions I made from this, is that a ToP is at one side a specific list for a specific situation (and might even apply to a specific time and place). In the original ToP I brought with me, the questions are applicable for all patients coming in that particular department of the hospital and the list has now been in use for some time now, so, on the other side the ToP generic enough to be beneficial for a longer period of time.



In Software testing I made an analogy with the ToP with project level, because at that time the unit to be the most practical for a ToP was at project level. I can imagine that different ToPs are possible; in smaller project a 'project level' would do for example, but in SCRUM a 'sprint' or 'release' based one could be beneficial (maybe 'sprint' is even a bit too small a unit, to make a generic one every 2-4 weeks, so that could be a list which would contain a lot of 'generic' questions and some changeable ones for that sprint), in larger projects (waterfall type) one can think of test level ToP's etc. The main thing is that the list will contain questions that will make you think about the common things (that you might easily forget otherwise) and important 'really not to forget' things, that are applicable for your work for a longer period of time (specific unit of work/ project etc.) so you should choose a wise unit of 'measurement'.

I took my time to design questions that would benefit me most with my work. I remember having some thoughts about the items in my 'to-do' list or 'remember-to' list every time I was in my car (or train) back home and thought they would be excellent items on my ToP, since if I put them on my check-list, I wouldn't have to 'keep it in my head' al the time. I also thought of typical questions related to testing which seemed to be generic for most of my projects. I thought about the very common things that seemed so obvious and basic in my mind and marked them specifically (those are typically the questions that contain the most risk of be forgotten!) and last I wrote down some keywords of things that were crucial to the project and really not to be forgotten (the things that keep buzzing in your head - a bit the same as the 'remember-to' things). In short, these are categories of questions you should have on your list:
  1. Questions regarding items that keep busying your mind (to-do's / remember-to's)
  2. Questions related to the things that seem TOO obvious or simple to you
  3. Questions regarding the success of the (testing) project (crucial factors)
For an example I will share some of my questions on my list for the project at that time (waterfall type project):
  • What's the name of the (part of) the system I have under test?
  • Which version(s) of the system do I have/ must I have under test?
  • Is the test environment loaded with the correct version?
  • Is the test environment loaded with the correct data?
  • Does the test environment need any connections to outside systems?
  • Are the connections to outside systems operational or is there a stub in place? (which are they?)
  • Are the correct user(s) defined and do they have the correct roles and authorizations?
  • Which date is the cut-off date for bug reporting
  • Which stakeholders are involved?
  • Are the stakeholders informed?
  • Do I have enough input for the testers to do their execution?
  • Are all the tools in place and do the users have the authorisations needed?
  • Are there known defect(s) that should be mentioned?
For a SCRUM-type list I can imagine you'd have something of 'what user stories are to be covered' on the list and it even could be as simple (in waterfall type projects) as 'which test level am I testing on?.

The TimeOutProtocol is a check-list that will, when used daily, create a moment where you can step back from the busy work schedule, reflect on the work you are doing and let you focus on the things that you should have been doing. The 'ideal' ToP will not take a half hour to run through all the points, but will take a maximum of 2 minutes to complete. Questions you can't answer should be written down an found out after the use of the ToP (when already applicable of course).

It's not just for management (as the example list I showed you earlier might imply) but for all expertises in a project (a test analyst might have questions as: 'which version am I testing on', 'do I have the right authorisation(s) to do my tests?' and 'which functionality did I cover?'). YOUR TimeOutProtocol can't be written by your manager, (s)he might have a ToP with questions that you CAN use, but the checkpoints are still the questions (S)HE would like to have answered.
YOUR TImeOutProtocol is a list that will benefit YOU and YOU are thus the person that should design the questions on the list that will benefit YOU and YOUR WORK (although it could be beneficial to let somebody review your list so (s)he might have extra suggestions (especially those things that are TOO obvious and might not be on your list, although important). It also might be a good idea / suggestions to share the different ToP's that are made by your fellow-projectmembers or even a colleague tester from an entirely different organization; it will probably inspire to add or sharpen questions that might benefit you.

Well. That's it about the TimeOutProtocol. I hope you find it a useful tool to use in your daily work and if you want or can (mind the questions that might be under NDA's!), I would appreciate it if you'd like to share your ToP or comments/ suggestions to ToP's as a comment to this post, so more testers might benefit from the things you have on your list.