I had the pleasure to invite Ingrid Domingues for dinner this week. Ingrid is one of the authors of the book Effect Managing IT that I have read at least three times so far. There has been a lot of discussion in, at least the context driven testing community, on how to increase the value of testing.
An IT-system is built to solve a problem – if the problem is not solved the product does not work!
So we need to focus on the users/customers to ensure that they get good usage of what we build. Effect manging IT puts the focus on what effects we want to achieve and what roles of users that can achieve them. This serves as a basis for requirement and testing where we try to make sure that the most important effects are realised. We then have a pretty clear idea of what the consequences are if we remove a certain function or if we find a problem in a part of our system. Ingrid told me she is a bit tired of waiting for the business to understand the concepts off effect managing and start working with them. Instead they choose to work towards unclear goals with the result of not optimizing their earnings. Well, I have said the same thing about testing for fifteen years, how come the understanding is so slow to penetrate our industry. ISTQB certification is part of the answer. It is hard to change to the better when the old ruts are sold as the one and only solution. Most testers that I respect believe it is useless or plain wrong but a lot of managers and some novice testers think it is important. That often changes when they take a testing class like RST or my own test design class where they are shown alternatives and are encouraged to think for themselves instead of beeing dictated to. I will leave that discusson for now.
Testers should be business analysts, many have said. But how come the important part of business analysis is just thrown at the testers? Shouldn´t the whole project be customer focused? As it is now, not even the customers themselves seem to be business driven! Looking back at most of the projects I have worked on the last 15 years, the greater part of them are function driven or maybe ”project driven”. What I mean with that? Well, how come all project management and system development methods focus on getting a bunch of functions completed within in a certain time limit and within budget? There is little engagement from the customer side, lately it seems to have become even less rather than more. The roles system analyst, business analyst or whatever they may be called never seem to have anyone assigned. And what about the roles interaction designer and usability architect. They are surely legends because I have heard about them but never seen them in any project so far.
The truth about IT-projects is that the only ones making money on them are whoever is developing them. Whoever pays the bill hopefully earns some money AFTER the project is put in production. So their goal, and the project’s, should be to maximize the earnings after the project has ended. If that would be the focus we would not only look at effects but at all the important quality factors that are alomost always conveniently forgotten by everyone engaged in builing a system. What are the support costs? How can we update, upscale, change platform? Are the users happy, if so the usage of the system will increase hence we make more money.
It is time to stop running IT-projects and start to run business projects! All other industry does it or they go bancrupt.