Software Testing FAQ's - configuration management


FAQ'S Of Software Testing

Q16. What makes a good resume?
A: On the subject of resumes, there seems to be an unending discussion of whether you should or shouldn't have a one-page resume. The followings are some of the comments I have personally heard: "Well, Joe Blow (car salesman) said I should have a one-page resume." "Well, I read a book and it said you should have a one page resume." "I can't really go into what I really did because if I did, it'd take more than one page on my resume." "Gosh, I wish I could put my job at IBM on my resume but if I did it'd make my resume more than one page, and I was told to never make the resume more than one page long." "I'm confused, should my resume be more than one page? I feel like it should, but I don't want to break the rules." Or, here's another comment, "People just don't read resumes that are longer than one page." I have heard some more, but we can start with these. So what's the answer? There is no scientific answer about whether a one-page resume is right or wrong. It all depends on who you are and how much experience you have. The first thing to look at here is the purpose of a resume.

The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. If the resume is getting you interviews, then it is considered to be a good resume. If the resume isn't getting you interviews, then you should change it. The biggest mistake you can make on your resume is to make it hard to read. Why? Because, for one, scanners don't like odd resumes. Small fonts can make your resume harder to read. Some candidates use a 7-point font so they can get the resume onto one page. Big mistake. Two, resume readers do not like eye strain either. If the resume is mechanically challenging, they just throw it aside for one that is easier on the eyes. Three, there are lots of resumes out there these days, and that is also part of the problem. Four, in light of the current scanning scenario, more than one page is not a deterrent because many will scan your resume into their database. Once the resume is in there and searchable, you have accomplished one of the goals of resume distribution. Five, resume readers don't like to guess and most won't call you to clarify what is on your resume.

Generally speaking, your resume should tell your story. If you're a college graduate looking for your first job, a one-page resume is just fine. If you have a longer story, the resume needs to be longer. Please put your experience on the resume so resume readers can tell when and for whom you did what. Short resumes -- for people long on experience -- are not appropriate. The real audience for these short resumes is people with short attention spans and low IQ. I assure you that when your resume gets into the right hands, it will be read thoroughly.

Q17. What makes a good QA/Test Manager?
A: QA/Test Managers are familiar with the software development process; able to maintain enthusiasm of their team and promote a positive atmosphere; able to promote teamwork to increase productivity; able to promote cooperation between Software and Test/QA Engineers, have the people skills needed to promote improvements in QA processes, have the ability to withstand pressures and say *no* to other managers when quality is insufficient or QA processes are not being adhered to; able to communicate with technical and non-technical people; as well as able to run meetings and keep them focused.
Q18. What is the role of documentation in QA?
A: Documentation plays a critical role in QA. QA practices should be documented, so that they are repeatable. Specifications, designs, business rules, inspection reports, configurations, code changes, test plans, test cases, bug reports, user manuals should all be documented. Ideally, there should be a system for easily finding and obtaining of documents and determining what document will have a particular piece of information. Use documentation change management, if possible.
Q19. What about requirements?
A: Requirement specifications are important and one of the most reliable methods of insuring problems in a complex software project is to have poorly documented requirement specifications. Requirements are the details describing an application's externally perceived functionality and properties. Requirements should be clear, complete, reasonably detailed, cohesive, attainable and testable. A non-testable requirement would be, for example, "user-friendly", which is too subjective. A testable requirement would be something such as, "the product shall allow the user to enter their previously-assigned password to access the application". Care should be taken to involve all of a project's significant customers in the requirements process. Customers could be in-house or external and could include end-users, customer acceptance test engineers, testers, customer contract officers, customer management, future software maintenance engineers, salespeople and anyone who could later derail the project. If his/her expectations aren't met, they should be included as a customer, if possible. In some organizations, requirements may end up in high-level project plans, functional specification documents, design documents, or other documents at various levels of detail. No matter what they are called, some type of documentation with detailed requirements will be needed by test engineers in order to properly plan and execute tests. Without such documentation there will be no clear-cut way to determine if a software application is performing correctly.
Q20. What is a test plan?
A: A software project test plan is a document that describes the objectives, scope, approach and focus of a software testing effort. The process of preparing a test plan is a useful way to think through the efforts needed to validate the acceptability of a software product. The completed document will help people outside the test group understand the why and how of product validation. It should be thorough enough to be useful, but not so thorough that none outside the test group will be able to read it.
Q21. What is a test case?
A: A test case is a document that describes an input, action, or event and its expected result, in order to determine if a feature of an application is working correctly. A test case should contain particulars such as a...
1. Test case identifier;
2. Test case name;
3. Objective;
4. Test conditions/setup;
5. Input data requirements/steps, and
6. Expected results.
Please note, the process of developing test cases can help find problems in the requirements or design of an application, since it requires you to completely think through the operation of the application. For this reason, it is useful to prepare test cases early in the development cycle, if possible.
Q22. What should be done after a bug is found?
A: When a bug is found, it needs to be communicated and assigned to developers that can fix it. After the problem is resolved, fixes should be re-tested. Additionally, determinations should be made regarding requirements, software, hardware, safety impact, etc., for regression testing to check the fixes didn't create other problems elsewhere. If a problem-tracking system is in place, it should encapsulate these determinations. A variety of commercial, problem-tracking/management software tools are available. These tools, with the detailed input of software test engineers, will give the team complete information so developers can understand the bug, get an idea of its severity, reproduce it and fix it.

Q23. What is configuration management?
A: Configuration management (CM) covers the tools and processes used to control, coordinate and track code, requirements, documentation, problems, change requests, designs, tools, compilers, libraries, patches, changes made to them and who makes the changes.
Q24. What if the software is so buggy it can't be tested at all?
A: In this situation the best bet is to have test engineers go through the process of reporting whatever bugs or problems initially show up, with the focus being on critical bugs. Since this type of problem can severely affect schedules and indicates deeper problems in the software development process, such as insufficient unit testing, insufficient integration testing, poor design, improper build or release procedures, managers should be notified and provided with some documentation as evidence of the problem.
Q25. How do you know when to stop testing?
A: This can be difficult to determine. Many modern software applications are so complex and run in such an interdependent environment, that complete testing can never be done. Common factors in deciding when to stop are... 1. Deadlines, e.g. release deadlines, testing deadlines;
2. Test cases completed with certain percentage passed;
3. Test budget has been depleted;
4. Coverage of code, functionality, or requirements reaches a specified point;
5. Bug rate falls below a certain level; or
6. Beta or alpha testing period ends.
Q26. What if there isn't enough time for thorough testing?
A: Since it's rarely possible to test every possible aspect of an application, every possible combination of events, every dependency, or everything that could go wrong, risk analysis is appropriate to most software development projects. Use risk analysis to determine where testing should be focused. This requires judgment skills, common sense and experience. The checklist should include answers to the following questions:
1. Which functionality is most important to the project's intended purpose?
2. Which functionality is most visible to the user?
3. Which functionality has the largest safety impact?
4. Which functionality has the largest financial impact on users?
5. Which aspects of the application are most important to the customer?
6. Which aspects of the application can be tested early in the development cycle?
7. Which parts of the code are most complex and thus most subject to errors?
8. Which parts of the application were developed in rush or panic mode?
9. Which aspects of similar/related previous projects caused problems?
10. Which aspects of similar/related previous projects had large maintenance expenses?
11. Which parts of the requirements and design are unclear or poorly thought out?
12. What do the developers think are the highest-risk aspects of the application?
13. What kinds of problems would cause the worst publicity?
14. What kinds of problems would cause the most customer service complaints?
15. What kinds of tests could easily cover multiple functionalities?
16. Which tests will have the best high-risk-coverage to time-required ratio?
Q27. What if the project isn't big enough to justify extensive testing?
A: Consider the impact of project errors, not the size of the project. However, if extensive testing is still not justified, risk analysis is again needed and the considerations listed under "What if there isn't enough time for thorough testing?" do apply. The test engineer then should do "ad hoc" testing, or write up a limited test plan based on the risk analysis.
Q28. What can be done if requirements are changing continuously?
A: Work with management early on to understand how requirements might change, so that alternate test plans and strategies can be worked out in advance. It is helpful if the application's initial design allows for some adaptability, so that later changes do not require redoing the application from scratch. Additionally, try to...
1. Ensure the code is well commented and well documented; this makes changes easier for the developers.
2. Use rapid prototyping whenever possible; this will help customers feel sure of their requirements and minimize changes.
3. In the project's initial schedule, allow for some extra time to commensurate with probable changes.
4. Move new requirements to a 'Phase 2' version of an application and use the original requirements for the 'Phase 1' version.
5. Negotiate to allow only easily implemented new requirements into the project; move more difficult, new requirements into future versions of the application.
6. Ensure customers and management understand scheduling impacts, inherent risks and costs of significant requirements changes. Then let management or the customers decide if the changes are warranted; after all, that's their job.
7. Balance the effort put into setting up automated testing with the expected effort required to redo them to deal with changes.
8. Design some flexibility into automated test scripts;
9. Focus initial automated testing on application aspects that are most likely to remain unchanged;
10. Devote appropriate effort to risk analysis of changes, in order to minimize regression-testing needs;
11. Design some flexibility into test cases; this is not easily done; the best bet is to minimize the detail in the test cases, or set up only higher-level generic-type test plans;
12. Focus less on detailed test plans and test cases and more on ad-hoc testing with an understanding of the added risk this entails.
Q29. What if the application has functionality that wasn't in the requirements?
A: It may take serious effort to determine if an application has significant unexpected or hidden functionality, which it would indicate deeper problems in the software development process. If the functionality isn't necessary to the purpose of the application, it should be removed, as it may have unknown impacts or dependencies that were not taken into account by the designer or the customer.
If not removed, design information will be needed to determine added testing needs or regression testing needs. Management should be made aware of any significant added risks as a result of the unexpected functionality. If the functionality only affects areas, such as minor improvements in the user interface, it may not be a significant risk.
Q30. How can software QA processes be implemented without stifling productivity?
A: Implement QA processes slowly over time. Use consensus to reach agreement on processes and adjust and experiment as an organization grows and matures. Productivity will be improved instead of stifled. Problem prevention will lessen the need for problem detection. Panics and burnout will decrease and there will be improved focus and less wasted effort. At the same time, attempts should be made to keep processes simple and efficient, minimize paperwork, promote computer-based processes and automated tracking and reporting, minimize time required in meetings and promote training as part of the QA process. However, no one, especially talented technical types, like bureaucracy and in the short run things may slow down a bit. A typical scenario would be that more days of planning and development will be needed, but less time will be required for late-night bug fixing and calming of irate customers.

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