January 2008
In This Issue
E-Learning Courses
ISTQB Certified Tester Training
Other Public Courses
Two Weeks to Better Testing in 2008
January "Rexisms"
New Website
A Season for Giving

Quick Links


Featured Partner 

Our featured partner this month is Aeturnum.  Aeturnum is an leading provider of IT services, pillared on innovation through research. With offices in the US, Sri Lanka and India, Aeturnum provides collaborative IT development to Fortune 500 companies, VC-funded startups, and internal IT organizations.  RBCS has partnered with Aeturnum to provide test assessment and consulting services to a Fortune 50 software organization.  Both sides are confident that their cooperation will extend to other clients in the 2008 time frame and beyond.
E-Learning Courses

We are pleased to announce that our e-learning courses are now available. 
ISTQB Test Engineering Foundation 
US$ 999
Managing the Testing Process US$ 999
Software Test Estimation
US$ 499
Coming soon...
Assessing Your Test Team
US$ 499
ISTQB Advanced Test Manager
US$ 999
ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst
US$ 999
Each course includes two months of on-line access, notesets, exercises and either sample exam questions (for ISTQB course) or knoweldge-check questions (for other courses). ISTQB courses are written against the new syllabus to be released in 2008.  Prices shown are for asychronous courses (pure e-learning).  Blended courses (with a facilitator) and custom training packages are also available. 
ISTQB Certified Tester Training

February 25-27, Toronto, ON, ISTQB Advanced Test Analyst. US$ 2,000. 

February 26-29, Austin, TX, ISTQB Advanced Test Manager.  US$ 2,500.

March 3-6, San Jose, CA, ISTQB Test Engineering Foundation. US$ 2,500.

March 18-21, Toronto, ON, ISTQB Advanced Test Manager. US$ 2,500.

March 31-April 2, San Jose, CA,  Advanced Test Analyst.
 US$ 2,000.

April 9-11, Atlanta, GA,  Advanced Test Analyst.
US$ 2,000. 

April 28-May 1, Richmond, VA, Advanced Test Manager.
US$ 2,500.

Register Today!
Other Public Courses
February 6-8, Toronto, ON, Managing the Testing Process.  $2,000. 
March 5-7, Toronto, ON, Performance Testing Immersion Workshop.  $2,500. 
April 7-9, Austin, TX, Performance Testing Immersion Workshop.  $2,500. 
April 23-25, San Jose, CA, Managing the Testing Process.  $2,000.
South East European Software Testing Conference  
Rex Black will present a tutorial on risk-based testing at the South East European Software Testing Conference (SEETEST), the first conference ever in South East Europe in the area of Software Testing and Software Quality Management.  This conference will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria, July 2-3, 2008. Quality House, together with the South East European Testing Board and the International Software Quality Institute, ISQI, are the organizers of the SEETEST 2008 Conference.  For more information, visit www.seetest.org.
Dear Reader,
Welcome to our first newsletter of 2008.  In the spirt of New Year's resolutions, this newsletter includes  three quick and easy tips to improve your testing in just two weeks.  Each of them is easier than most New Year's resolutions and I promise you that you can do them all!

In addition to the article, there's some information on our new and improved Web site.  The new site will make it easier for clients to find resources and easier for clients-to-be to find out more about our services.  Of course, being the RBCS Web site, the site was extensively tested.  Being tested by RBCS professionals, we found some bugs in that testing.  Fixing those bugs held up delivery a bit, but we think you'll agree that the quality and content are both top-notch.
We are also happy to mention a new RBCS partner, Aeturnum, who is working with us on a top-secret and fascinating test process improvement project for a major organization whose name you would recognize--if I were allowed to tell you!

Rounding out the newsletter is some information about our new e-learning offerings, a handful of Rexisms, and a brief mention of a charity here in Texas that we think does some really nice work.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter.

Rex Black, President


Two Weeks to Better Testing in 2008

by Rex Black

We asked some clients, associates, and colleagues what some of their top New Year's resolutions were.  While we can't share them all, you won't be surprised to find one of the top "to dos" for 2008 is to find practical ways to improve testing. So, if you're like most testers, you are time constrained and need to make improvements quickly that show fast results.  Here I present three practical ideas which you can put into action in just two weeks, which will make a noticeable difference to get your testing year started off right.
Get Hip to Risk-Based Testing

I have a simple rule of thumb for test execution: Find the scary stuff first.  How do we do this?  Make smart guesses about where high-impact bugs are likely.  How do we do that?  Risk-based testing. 

In a nutshell, risk-based testing consists of the following:

1.                  Identify specific risks to system quality.

2.                  Assess and assign the level of risk for each risk, based on likelihood (technical considerations) and impact (business considerations).

3.                  Allocate test effort and prioritize (sequence) test execution based on risk.

4.                  Revise the risk analysis at regular intervals in the project, including after testing the first build.

You can make this process as formal or as informal as necessary.  I have helped clients get started doing risk-based testing in as little as one day, though one week is more typical.  For more ideas on how, see my article, "Quality Risk Analysis," in the Library at www.rbcs-us.com, or my books Managing the Testing Process (for the test management perspective) or Pragmatic Software Testing (for the test analyst perspective).

Whip Those Bug Reports into Shape

One of the major deliverables for us as testers is the bug report.  But, like Rodney Dangerfield, the bug report gets "no respect" in too many organizations.  Just because we write them all the time doesn't mean they aren't critical-quite the contrary-and it doesn't mean we know how to write them well.  Most test groups have opportunities to improve their bug reporting process.

When I do test assessments for clients, I always look at the quality of the bug reports.  I focus on three questions:

1.                  What is the percentage of rejected bug reports?

2.                  What is the percentage of duplicate bug reports?

3.                  Do all project stakeholder groups feel they are getting the information they need from the bug reports?

If the answer to questions one or two is, "More than 5%," I do further analysis as to why.  (Hint: This isn't always a matter of tester competence, so don't assume it is.)  If the answer to question three is, "No," then I spend time figuring out which project stakeholders are being overlooked or underserved.  Recommendations in my assessment report will include ways to gets these measures where they ought to be.  Asking the stakeholders what they need from the bug reports is a great way to start-and to improve your relationships with your coworkers, too.

Read a Book on Testing

Most practicing testers have never read a book on testing.  This is regrettable.  We have a lot we can learn from each other in this field, but we have to reach out to gain that knowledge.

(Lest you consider this suggestion self-serving, let me point out that writing technical books yields meager book royalties.  In fact, on an hourly basis it's more lucrative to work as a bagger at a grocery store.  Other benefits, including the opportunity to improve our field, are what motivate most of us.)

There are many good books on testing out there now.  Here's a very small selection:


What You Want

Books to Read

General tips and techniques for test engineers

Pragmatic Software Testing, Rex Black
A Practitioner's Guide to Software Test Design, Lee Copeland

Object-oriented testing

Testing Object-Oriented Systems, Robert Binder

Web testing

The Web Testing Handbook, Steve Splaine

For more reading recommendations, including books on security testing, dynamic test strategies and techniques, test management, test process assessment and improvement, and ISTQB tester certification, read the remainder of this article in the new RBCS library.

January "Rexisms"
Some of you may have heard Rex's sayings over the years. We decided to coin them "Rexisms" for your reading pleasure. So here they are to ponder - some useful aphorisms to help you plan, prepare, perform, and perfect your testing activities, compiled from over a quarter-century of software and systems engineering experience.
"Testing is a filter, not a shield" 
"The number one cause of trouble for testing groups is not incompetence, but rather bad expectations, within and without."
"For any work product that matters, it isn't done until it's been looked at by at least two pairs of eyes."

RBCS Launches New Website

We are proud to announce the launch of the new and improved RBCS website - www.rbcs-us.com! The completely redesigned website offers a wealth of information on the services RBCS provides in Consulting, Outsourcing and Training. In addition, the site is a comprehensive resource for testing professionals. New features include a Library of basic and advanced materials, current articles on testing, and a list of upcoming training dates and events.


"Our goal with the new website was to showcase how RBCS helps clients improve their testing process, save time and money, and assure quality products are delivered to customers and users," said Rex Black, president of RBCS. "New and current customers will be able to find exactly what they need, as well as sign up for courses, license intellectual property, and even buy autographed copies of books."
A Season for Giving
In December 2007, RBCS sponsored a family of five for the holidays.  Every effort was made to fulfill the Christmas lists made by each of the family members.  This project was in collaboration with Temple Beth-El of San Antonio and the Family Service Association.