By James Bach
The Factory School is that community of process people who believe testing benefits from eliminating the human element as much as possible. They wish to mechanize testing, and to condition the humans within it to see themselves as machines and emulate machines as much as possible. It’s an idea that has a number of advantages, with the important caveat that it makes good software testing impossible by leaving no room in the process for skill and thinking.
Sometimes when I complain about the Factory School of software testing, people think I’m exaggerating or making it up.
But check out this quote from Yaron Sinai, CEO of Elementools:
“With Test Case, the team doesn’t think,” Sinai said. “They just need to follow the steps. And for you, as a testing manager, you know that once they completed a set of tests, you know they followed the steps that needed to be followed.”
At first when I saw this, I thought it was a joke news story. Apparently not. (For the sake of Mr. Sinai, I hope he was misquoted. I will gladly post a retraction if that is the case.)
The man’s tool is called Test Case, which is emblematic right there. It’s focus is on test cases, not good testing. His view of test cases appears to be test procedure steps, and he wants testers to stop thinking, dammit, and just follow steps. Like factory robots. Robots that don’t question or talk back. Nice. Saaafe. Rooooooboootttts.
I haven’t found much information about Mr. Sinai online. He apparently hasn’t written about testing, per se. At least he is consistent: he has contributed no ideas to the testing craft, and now he sells an idea prevention system in the guise of a test management tool.
I want to ask Mr. Sinai whether, as a CEO, he faithfully follows his “CEO cases” each day, written for him by other, smarter CEO’s. Or does he, gasp, think for himself? I bet he would reply that although he is a smart CEO, not all CEO’s are smart enough to make their own decisions, and thus it’s only reasonable that their work should be scripted. When I suggest that a minimum requirement to be a CEO should be the ability to think about business problems and make decisions on their own behalf, I’m sure he will say “that’s just not practical.” By which he will mean, of course, that HE doesn’t know how to do it.
The Factory School promotes the antithesis of engineering, while often using the word engineering as if it were some corpse impaled on a stick. Their approach to managing an engineering process is to kill it. Indeed, a dead process, like a dead horse, is much easier to manage once you get used to the smell.
And a lot of top managers buy this crap because the demos are simple, they are unaware of alternatives that would actually help, and the perfume on their cravats tends to mask the stench of tool vendors who don’t know anything about the craft.
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By James Bach