There are no excuses for a Microsoft Office testing tool strategy

New Thinking 3 June 2012 Simon Anderson

We now live in a world of many tools, technology, delivery and licensing models. We don’t know how lucky we are, mate!

When I think of the current situation that testers find themselves in when looking for tools to support them and their activities, I think of the song “We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are” by Fred Dagg (aka the great New Zealand satirist John Clarke). This is a flippant observation of the quality of life in 1970’s New Zealand and its citizens’ perceptions of it. Follow the link to hear the song.

So, in a sentence, we testers ‘don’t know how lucky we are’. At Assurity, we feel that there is no reason why any test effort should not enjoy the productivity that test tools bring. We feel that there is no reason for a tester to be operating on a Microsoft Office testing tool set.

We have always believed that no tester should be without test tools. My own motivation around the uptake of HP Software test tools was indignation at the poverty of the tester’s desktop – that testers require tools.

poverty [ˈpɒvətɪ]
      1. the condition of being without adequate food, money, etc
      2. scarcity or dearth a poverty of wit
      3. a lack of elements conducive to fertility in land or soil
[from Old French poverte, from Latin paupertas restricted means, from pauper POOR]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged ® HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

(Thanks to Collins & The Free Dictionary)

“Scarcity or dearth”. Why was this? Historically, the value placed on testing and the unmeasurable value-add it brought to quality was not high. So value-add to the cost of tools (primarily via the perpetual licensing models) meant that they were not purchased. Testers railed against this: “Why can’t we have the tools we need!” we would cry.

Well, we no longer have to. A world of tools, technologies, delivery and licensing models have arrived. Tools: test management, test automation, middleware test automation, test data management etc. Technology: virtualisation. Delivery: cloud, private cloud, IaaS and PaaS. Licensing: open-source, freeware, SaaS, term, drag-along and perpetual.

Budget and licensing are no longer excuses. Yes, note that word – “excuses”. After parroting that it’s unfair for so many years, the door to our gilded cage has been thrown open. But we’re unsure what to do so we revert to kind and do not leave.

So how do you change? You make a start. Have a look at the tools available. Look at the challenges you want to address – quality, time and/or budget. Think incrementally and pick one. Look at the desired delivery model. Does it have to be in your firewall? Is virtualisation an option? Could a service meet your needs? Look at the licensing model and the technical skills of the tool users.

This should get the arguments started, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We certainly fight at Assurity. The commercial tool versus open-sourced battle lives and breathes here. While I am, through my HP affiliations, a keen protagonist in this, my feelings have somewhat mellowed as I have learnt more. I like to think of it as ‘who would win a fight between a bear and a shark?’.

What you choose depends on your context; both mighty beasts, but are you in water or the woods? Assurity’s Think services should be able to help you with this because we've certainly thought and fought about it a lot... along with plenty of others too, of course. Don’t feel bad about needing help. Like I said, not a lot of test tools implementations have happened over the years, so not a lot of organisations have experience in this.

Game-changing tools with Assurity. You don’t how lucky you are!