Question: How to Rapidly Test Maintenance Releases?

A correspondent writes:

“I have a test management problem. We have a maintenance project. It contains about 20 different applications. Three of them are bigger in terms of features and also the specs that are available. I am told that these applications had more than 1-2 testers on each of these applications. But in this maintenance project we are only 6-7 testers who are responsible to do the required testing. There will be a maintenance release every month and what it will deliver is a few bug fixes and a few CRs. What those bugs and CRs would be is not known in advance. Could you please suggest how to go about managing such kind of assignment?”

My first-order (direct) answer to this question runs about 3,000 words. It’s a slightly improved version of what was originally published in the TASSQ Quarterly, 9/06. It’s a bit too long for comfortable reading in blog form, so here it is as a PDF.

An Aside About Context-Driven Methodology

I also want to say that this PDF is an example of context-driven methodology. Responsible context-driven driven advice begins by inquiring about the context of the reader or specifying the relevant aspects of context in which the presented methods are believed to be helpful. The advice is then presented in a heuristic tone (“this might help”) rather than with an imperative tone (“you should do this”). I can use an imperative tone only when I am taking responsibility for the quality of the work; when I am the boss.

Part of the heuristic way of giving advice is to help the reader see reasons, causes, caveats, and alternatives. As a context-driven methodologist, I know my method ideas are tools, not facts. They must be interpreted and applied in specific situations by specific people. For the same reason, I see all methodology as embedded in a dialog. If I tell you “it is helpful to minimize documentation, because documentation is expensive”, I anticipate that you may reply with a question or a challenge, I try to make it easy for you to do that, and I try to be ready and able to answer you. Through the dialog, we all learn and develop better ways of working here and now on this project. In philosophical lingo, context-driven methodologists understand that each practitioner contructs (in a sense, invents) the craft for himself while immersed in a rich world of signs and signals that may guide us.

If you ever see me straying away from the context-driven path of methodology, I hope you will bring that to my attention. It is through the help of my colleagues and clients that I learn to do this better.

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