Test Coverage or Ass Coverage

So today was the start of CAST 2014 and as it always the case, my twitter account blew up with all the tweets from those lucky bastards that are there, while muggins here is working in the UK! but I’m not bitter of course 🙂

Anyway I was happy reading through the tweets, when I spotted a conversation regarding why some organisations are so resistant letting go of the notion that “Everything” must be scripted.  As is so often the case Michael Bolton was in there like “swimwear” with a great comment that really resonated with me.  In essence the point that he made (I believe) was that heavy script based testing is often seen in environments where there is a lack of trust in the testing and or the testers. Michael pointed out that as such there was more of a focus on covering ones posterior rather that truly looking at test coverage , hence the title of this post (hope you don’t mine me stealing it Michael)

So as I said, this hit home with me because this is something I am often seeing and apart from the fact that it winds me up no end, it also often leads to substandard testing.  So given that I was inspired to detail two of the main ass covering tactics I see from testers .

1. Asking for permission to test.

This is often where a tester is going to a Business Analyst, Developer or stakeholder to ask if it is OK for them to test function x or something akin to this.  In these situations, its not  that the tester was trying to gain information to better form their models of the System they are testing,  but instead they are looking for permission on what to test, or not so that if/when issues are found later the tester can say, well I was told not to test X by Y, without having done any of the risk assessment themselves to back up there reasoning for doing X and not Y.

2. Shirking responsibility for scope

This is similar to number 1, in that I often see testers write out their long list of test scenarios and then ask for them to be “signed-off” by a Business Analyst. This activity is in my view another attempt to avoid being accountable for your decisions as a tester, which in my opinion makes you lazy in your analytical thinking as testers that do this often are both looking for someone else to fill in the gaps (“why are you not testing X?” or “You might want to also test Y”) as well as having a fall back position when the enviable question of scope is asked when issues are found.

I would be interested to hear if other see these same things, or see other ways that testers cover their ass at the expense of test coverage.

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