Does the following apply to you: “Testing-related matters are well under control in our company. Our top expert X knows all our dataflows and seamlessly handles all the tests and errors alongside their other tasks.” If you found yourself nodding in agreement while reading, this article is for you. We will explain why your situation is concerning and how to fix it.
If the situation pictured above describes the everyday life in your organisation, let’s first spend a moment looking at it from multiple angles. Your top expert will inevitably end up under a massive workload because having that person handle everything is the most obvious choice. In this situation, testing will often end up buried under all their other important tasks, which greatly increases the risk of testing being delayed and becoming a bottleneck. Top experts are over ten times1 more productive than others, especially when it comes to challenging work tasks. Therefore, burdening them with routine tasks is a waste of valuable resources and it also serves to diminish the expert’s productivity and motivation.
In addition to all the other challenges, when only one person is in charge of testing, problem-solving will be based on their deeply-ingrained experience and habits. Documentation will almost always be insufficient and out-of-date. As a result, transferring knowledge and responsibility over testing is, to say the least, difficult. More issues arise when testing needs and errors pile up and the workload cannot be eased by simply increasing resources temporarily because testing is based on expertise and tacit knowledge. Unexpected sick leaves and resignations are a huge risk for companies that rely on a single person to handle specific tasks. As such, there is no shortage of pitfalls.
How can we improve the current situation?
The answer is simple. Testing should be made so easy that anyone can do it independently and according to their own schedules. A lot of time and resources can also be saved with an automatically produced and easy-to-understand testing report that can be distributed without any additional effort. Furthermore, all of the people who need testing should be allowed direct access to testing tools in order to eliminate testing bottlenecks. By also offering testing tools as a centralised service, you minimise the need for maintenance and ensure that all your tools are up-to-date.
You can significantly reduce the amount of tacit knowledge required in testing by separating testing from the application code. This also significantly increases the visibility of your requirements and updating them becomes easier and quicker. It is also vital to ensure that testing and documentation are always consistent with one another. This can be achieved by generating and maintaining them by using one specific tool for both. In other words, documents should not be maintained using Word files or on Sharepoint. This is the only way to ensure that practical implementation and documentation are always in line with one another.
A productised and harmonised testing model is the best way to protect against unwanted and expensive surprises. As long as the work requires top expertise to be done, a lot of improvements can be made to your operations!