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When software testing becomes unmanageable

by Jennifer Lent

At a breakfast at the STARWEST 2012 conference I met tester Laurie Lantgen, who works at a financial services firm in Sioux Falls, S.D. I asked her about the most challenging aspects of her job, and here’s what she told me:  

“The most difficult situation I have dealt with in my 17 years as a tester was a project so huge, it was virtually unmanageable for one person. In addition to testing the code, I had to work with about a dozen business users the app had been developed for. My project manager wanted me to engage them to do some of the testing with me. In theory, usability testing is important, but this project was nowhere near ready for that. The code still had defects, and new requirements were being written and rewritten all the time. It was tough to get through — I worked a lot of hours. I reached the point where I stopped conducting sessions with the users and went back to working on my own. I told my manager that this is what I had to do. I mean, I’m the one who finds all the weird stuff.”

Lantgen finished the project successfully. But her story brings home some of the points Johanna Rothman made in her keynote address yesterday Becoming a Kick-*** Test Manager. Test managers shouldn’t put their people in unmanageable situations and they shouldn’t turn a blind eye when a project isn’t going well. Laurie Lantgen was savvy enough to find her own way out. But lots of people aren’t capable of doing that.

For more on Johanna Rothman’s keynote, see: Advice for test managers: How to develop, coach and lead your team

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