January 2009
In This Issue
E-Learning Courses
Free Preview of E-Learning Course
ISTQB Certified Tester Training
Other Public Courses
Green Tip
Four Ideas For Improving Test Efficiency
Foundations of Software Testing Goes into Print Again
Improve Efficiency Through Training
January "Rexisms"
ASTQB Re-accredits Foundation Level Course
Requirements Engineering Foundation Course
Network Computing Interview

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Managing the Testing Process 
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Washington DC
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Managing the Testing Process

Green Tip 
recycle globe
Of the 25 billion single-serving plastic water bottles Americans use each year, 80% end up in landfills. Recycle your water bottles and, better yet, choose to re-use a refillable water bottle made of a refill-safe material. 

Tip provided by our partner BeGreen www.BeGreennow.com.   
Dear Reader,
Welcome to our first newsletter of 2009.  We have some timely and useful ideas for you.
Whether we are at the beginning, middle, or end of the current downturn, it's certain that management wants us all to make the most of our scarce test resources.  I recently wrote an article with four fast-acting ideas to answer that call to action and improve your test efficiency.
One way to do more with less is to enhance skills.  So, we have some ideas for that in this newsletter.  Better yet, due to popular demand, we have extended our training discount through the rest of January.
One big source of inefficiency for test teams is the lack of good requirements.  We've estimated that test teams without solid requirements suffer a 20-30% efficiency reduction.  That's why RBCS joined with HP/EDS and iSQI in 2008 to promote the QAMP program.  We're proud to announce that we now have an IREB course.  You can fulfill all the training requirements for QAMP certification through RBCS training. 
Finally, we have a green idea that also saves you money.  Let's raise a glass of cool water to the hope that 2009 brings smarter, more efficient testing and a brighter economic picture!

Rex Black, President
Four Ideas for Improving Test Efficiency
by Rex Black 
[Note: To help give you a sense of the overall article, I've edited the introductory text below to fit this space.  The full, unedited version is on our site.]
Nothing good lasts forever.  We have entered another economic downturn, and no one seems to know how long it will last.  For the foreseeable future, management will exhort testers and test teams to do more with less.  A tedious refrain, indeed, but you can improve your chances of weathering this economic storm if you take steps now to address this efficiency fixation. 

In this brief article, I'll give you four ideas you can implement to improve test efficiency.  All can show results quickly, within the next six months.  Better yet, none require sizeable investments which you could never talk your managers into making in this current economic situation.  By achieving quick, measurable improvements, you will position yourself as a stalwart supporter of the larger organizational cost-cutting goals, always smart in a down economy.

Know Your Efficiency
The first idea-and the foundation for the others-is that you should know your efficiency to know what to improve.  All too often, test teams have unclear goals.  Without clear goals, how can you measure your efficiency?  Efficiency at what?  Cost per what? 

Here are three common goals for test teams:
         Find bugs
         Reduce risk
         Build confidence

You should work with your stakeholders-not just the people on the project, but others in the organization who rely on testing-to determine the right goals for your team.
With the goals established, ask yourself, can you measure your efficiency in each area?  What is the average cost of detecting and repairing a bug found by your test team, and how does that compare with the cost of a bug found in production?  (I describe this method of measuring test efficiency in detail in my article, "Testing ROI: What IT Managers Should Know," found in the Basic Library at www.rbcs-us.com.) What risks do you cover in your testing, and how much does it cost on average to cover each risk?  What requirements, use cases, user stories, or other specification elements do you cover in your testing, and how much does it cost on average to cover each element?  Only by knowing your team's efficiency can you hope to improve it.

[For the other three ideas, click here.  For more articles and resources, visit our Library.] 
Foundations of Software Testing 
Foundations of Software Testing goes into Print Again! 
Due to the overwhelming success and popularity of Foundations of Software Testing written by Dorothy Graham, Erik van Veenendaal, Isabel Evans, and Rex Black, Cengage Learning has decided to go print again!
Foundations of Software Testing is your guide to software testing and the ISTQB Foundation qualification.  This book is an essential purchase if you want to benefit from the knowledge and experience of Rex Black, co-author of the ISTQB Foundation and Advanced syllabi. The book adopts a practical and hands-on approach, covering the fundamental principles that every system and software tester should know.
The book, which is always included in our ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level E-Learning and Live courses and with our ISTQB Foundation Level Exam Prep Guide can also be purchase at our website for $61.99.  Order your copy today!
Improve Efficiency Through Training 
According to high-tech management gurus Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister, a team at the top of its game will outperform a mediocre team by a factor of 10 to 1.  What's one key differentiator between top-flight teams and underperformers?  Skills.  What's a great way to grow the skills in your team?  RBCS training. Want an example of how skills growth can effect dramatic change in your organization?  A recent client used concepts learned in our Test Engineering Foundation course to reduce the size of their regression test set from 800 test cases to 300.  That is a 60% reduction in their regression test effort, which accounts for most of their overall testing effort.
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.
  • "Test strategies are tools, not religions. You don't have to pick just one test strategy."


  • "Testing is not a destructive activity.  Properly done, it's a creative activity that creates information, confidence, and insight."


  • "Testers need to collaborate with other project stakeholders on what to test, but all too often attempts to allow stakeholder input on this question are like taking turns driving on a road trip when there's no agreed destination, or, worse yet, allowing random stakeholders to grab the steering wheel while the test manager is trying to drive.  Analytical risk-based testing, the way I do it, results in a clear, transparent, accessible roadmap for testing that leads to an agreed destination."

 ASTQB Re-Accredits RBCS' Foundation Level Course 
RBCS is pleased to announce that its ISTQB Foundation course, Test Engineering Foundation, achieved re-accreditation by the ASTQB (www.astqb.org).  Previously, this course was accredited by the ITCB.  Laurel Becker, RBCS Vice President, said, "We have enjoyed increasing business volume for Foundation courses in the United States and Canada over the last couple years, so it made sense to have the ASTQB perform the re-accreditation.  The re-accreditation was a routine process.  The ASTQB did locate some opportunities to improve the course, which we are implementing this month."

RBCS Adds Requirements Engineering Foundation to its Course Line Up!
We are pleased to announce that a new course is debuting in April 2009.  Requirements Engineering Foundation was developed by our associate Judy McKay. It covers both the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysts) and IREB (International Requirements Engineering Board) bodies of knowledge. This course is an excellent preparation course for both the IIBA and IREB certifications. In three days we will teach you how to be effective in your tasks, how to work within the development methodology that has been implemented, and how to save your team time and money.  Don't wait!  Register today!
In Passing 
Rex Black Interviewed by Network Computing
During a recent visit to India, Rex Black, President of RBCS, was interviewed by Network Computing regarding the changes in the software testing industry over the years.  A personal profile of Rex, including how he manages 200,000 plus miles on the road each year was also published.  To see the article in its entirety click here.