Running a business in today’ tough competitive world is not everyone’s cup of tea. You need to be well ahead of your competitors in terms of marketing, services as well as technology. Being a business owner, you should always look up for software tailored for your business, which can simplify things for you, your customers or even your employees for that matter. Not only this, you should try to extract the best of possible from that software.
Many business owners are unaware of the advantages of having the right tools at hand. And those who realise it may lack the knowledge on choosing the correct software for their business. So here is a guide to such business owners about what factors they should keep in mind while choosing the right software for their business.
ANALYSE YOUR NEEDS
You should be clear in your mind about your needs. There are two kinds of software, one that is general to all kinds of business. For example, general accounting, and the other one which is specific to a particular kind of business. For example, a restaurant owner would need software which can manage recipe cost along with the front-of-house to back-of-house communication, or a manufacturing business may need a software which can track shipments and provide supply chain information.
THE COST INVOLVED
Cost is a really crucial factor in choosing a software. You have to see to it that whether you can reasonably afford to purchase new software for your business or not. And if it is a sure thing, then you should take into considerations the features that you will need both now and in the coming few years. You should not be willing to pay for bells and whistles or functions that are not required in your business. Before choosing a software, carefully analyse your needs and keep in mind not to alter your needs to fit the software.
A popular term you will come across when working in agile is the “user story.” For the uninitiated, a user story is a technique of expressing software requirements in a specific format, usually:
As a < role of user >, I want to < perform an action >, so that < goal of user >
This adds more detail and description, and it’s sure to include the real need of the user when expressing the requirements.
For agile teams, user stories are a typical way to begin a conversation about a feature. But issues arise when we stop adding more beyond the one-line user story format. Most agile teams are crippled by incomplete, ambiguous and vague user stories that lack depth and details.
In my experience, there are some ways we can ensure that the user stories we craft are usable and valuable in all aspects. In my latest article for Gurock TestRail Blog, I talk about strategies to craft meaningful, understandable and valuable user stories for your agile teams.
We discuss INVEST Principle of User Stories, 3Cs of a User Story and how to learn from Experience of past sprints to improve your user stories. Read the full article here-
>>>Agile testing leaves very little time for documentation. It relies on quick and innovative test case design rather than elaborate test case documents with detailed steps or results. This mirrors the values of Exploratory Testing. When executed right, it needs only lightweight planning with the focus on fluidity without comprehensive documentation or test cases.
From a QA viewpoint, we can learn from the Agile Manifesto key goals; communication, efficiency, collaboration and flexibility. If you improve your QA team in these areas, it will have a positive effect on your QA strategy and company growth.
>>>The Manifesto for Agile Software Development forms the golden rules for all Agile teams today. It gives us four basic values, which assure Agilists a clearer mindset and success in their Agile testing.
Although these values are mostly associated with Agile development, they equally apply to all phases, roles and people within the Agile framework, including Agile testing. As we know, Agile testers’ lives are different, challenging and quite busy. They have a lot to achieve and contribute within the short Agile sprints or iterations, and are frequently faced with dilemmas about what to do and how to prioritise, add value and contribute more to the team.
Continuing the discussion on the Hawaii Missile Alert which made headlines in January 2018 and turned out to be a false alarm and ended up raising panic amongst almost a million people of the state all for nothing, (read here for detailed report) I would like to bring back the focus on implications of poor software design leading to such human errors.
Better software design is aimed at making the software easier to use, fit for its purpose and improving the overall experience of the user. While software design focuses on making all features easily accessible, understandable and usable, it also can be directed at making the user aware of all possibilities and implications before performing their actions. Certain actions, if critical, can and should be made more discrete than the others, may have added security or authorisations and visual hints indicating their critical nature.
Some of the best designers at freelancer.com came together to brainstorm ideas for better software design and to revamp the Hawaii government’s inept designs. They ran a contest amongst themselves to come up with the best designs that could avoid such a fiasco in future.
Sarah Danseglio, from East Meadow, New York, took home the $150 grand prize, while Renan M. of Brazil and Lyza V. of the Philippines scored $100 and $75 for coming in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Here is a sneak peek into how they designed the improved system :Read More »
Here is my experience report on using Tours in my testing project-
WHAT ARE TOURS —
In testing, a tour is an exploration of a product that is organized around a theme. Tours bring structure and direction to exploration sessions, so they can be used as a fundamental tool for exploratory testing. They’re excellent for surfacing a collection of ideas that you can then further explore in depth one at a time, and they help you become more familiar with a product—leading to better testing.
I had just started working with a new product, a web-based platform that was a fairly complex system with a large number of components, each with numerous features. Going into each component and inside every feature would take too much time; I needed a quick, broad overview and some feedback points I could share as queries or defects with my team.
I realized my exploration of the application would need some structure around it. Using test sessions and predefined charters, I could explore set areas and come back with relevant observations—I had discovered tours.
Cem Kaner describes tours as an exploration of a product that is organized around a theme. Tours help bring structure and a definite direction to exploration sessions, so they can be used as a fundamental tool for exploratory testing.
Tours are excellent for surfacing a collection of ideas that you can then further explore in depth one at a time. Tours testing provides a structure to the tester on the way they go about exploring the system, so they can have a particular focus on each part and not overlook a component. The structure is combined with a theme of the tour, which provides a base for the kind of questions to ask and the type of observations that need to be made.
In the course of conducting a tour, testers can find bugs, raise questions, uncover interesting aspects and features of the software, and create models, all done on the basis of the theme of the tour being performed.
Let’s discuss some common types of tours that are useful for testers and look at some examples.
Software impacts human lives – let us put more thought into it!
Here is what happened and my take on how software design may have been partly responsible and could be improved >>
Miami state in the US received a massive panic attack on Saturday the 13th of January 2018. More than a million people in Hawaii were led to fear that they were about to be struck by a nuclear missile due to circulation of a message sent out by the state emergency management. The message sent state wide just after 8 a.m. Saturday read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
The residents were left in a state of panic. People started scrambling to get to safe places, gathering supplies and even saying their goodbyes. Some took shelter in manholes, some gathered their kids into the most sheltered rooms in their homes like bathrooms or basements, some huddled in their closets and some sent out goodbye messages to their loved ones.
Turned out it was a false alert. Around 40 minutes later, the agency sent out another message saying that it was a false alarm sent out by mistake!
The questions being asked was – how could this happen and why did it take 40 minutes to check and issue an all clear?
Why Did This Happen?
Investigations into the incident were revealed and the governor stated that “It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift which they go through to make sure that the system is working, and an employee pushed the wrong button.”
The error occurred when, in the midst of a drill during a shift change at the agency, an employee made the wrong selection from a “drop-down” computer menu, choosing to activate a missile launch warning instead of the option for generating an internal test alert. The employee, believing the correct selection had been made, then went ahead and clicked “yes” when the system’s computer prompt asked whether to proceed.
Analysing the Root Cause
But is the fault only at human level? The software being used for such critical usage also needs to help out to avoid the possibility of such human errors.
After all triggering such a massive state-wide emergency warning should not have been as simple as push of a wrong button by a single person!
Could a better design of the software have prevented this kind of scenario from happening?
As reported, the incorrect selection was made in a dropdown – which lets imagine would look something like this-
After the selection was made, the system sent a prompt and the employee, believing the correct selection had been made, then went ahead and clicked “yes”.
So by this information we can assume that the prompt would have been something generic like
Though it definitely is a human error but isn’t the system also at fault for letting this happen so easily?
Better Design Ideas – More Thought – Improving Your Software
By putting in some extra thought into design of the software we can make it more robust to avoid such incidents.
Here are some things that could have helped design it better –
Do not have the TEST options placed right next to the ACTUAL emergency options!
Have different fields or perhaps different sub menus inside the dropdown as categories.
>> Always have the TEST category of warnings higher up in the list
>>Have the Default Selection in the dropdowneither as BLANK or as one of the TEST warnings and not the actual ones
>>Having the actual warnings section lower down and separated away from the similarly worded TEST warning would ensure lower chance of wrongful selection of the similar named option from the dropdown
The prompt message must be made unique to each scenario and in case of selecting a real warning issue action, the prompt must ask the user to specify the emergency.
>>Make the prompt appear critical with use of color and text
>>A critical prompt must catch the user’s attention and not be similar to the other screens and popups of the system, to avoid the possibility of clicking on it in a hurry.
>>Placement of Yes and No buttons on unusual sides (Yes is on the left which is not typical) avoids the click of the button – also used Red and Green to signify the importance situation. Red is the usual code for danger.
Additional level of authorisation must be added to the scenarios of real emergency warnings being issued. So, for the TEST actions, user may proceed and begin the drill but in case they select ACTUAL warning then the steps take it to another level of authorisation where another employee – a peer or a senior- reviews the action and performs the final warning issue.
>>This prevents erroneous actions and also some possibility of hackers or notorious people issuing false warnings just by gaining access via one user.
>>Define your hierarchy of users or approvals for each case of emergency.
These ideas may sound basic but all these are components of good Usability of the software, its appropriateness of purpose and setting up basic security in usage of the application.
We are just playing around human psychology, easier understand-ability and attention spans.
Let us endeavour to give a little more ‘thought’ to the system
Boris Beizer, in his book Software Testing Techniques (1990) coined the term pesticide paradox to describe the phenomenon that the more you test software, the more immune it becomes to your tests.
Just like, if you keep applying the same pesticide, the insects eventually build up resistance and the pesticide no longer works. Software undergoing the same repetitive tests build resistance to them, and they fail to catch more defects after that.
Software undergoing the same repetitive tests eventually builds up resistance to them.
As you run your tests multiple times, they stop being effective in catching bugs.
Moreover, part of the new defects introduced into the system will not be caught by your existing tests and will be released onto the field.
Solution: Refurnish and Revise Test Materials regularly
In order to overcome the pesticide paradox, testers must regularly develop newer tests exercising the various parts of the system and their inter-connections to find additional defects.
Also, testers cannot forever rely on existing test techniques or methods and must be on the look out to continually improve upon existing methods to make testing more effective.
It is suggested to keep revisiting the test cases regularly and revising them. Though agile teams provide little spare time for such activities, but the testing team is bound to keep planning these exercises within the team in order to keep the best performance coming. A few ideas to achieve this:
Brainstorming sessions – to think of more ideas around the same component testing
Buddy Reviews – New joinees to the team are encouraged to give their fresh perspective to the existing test scenarios for the product, which might get some new cases added.
Strike out older tests on functionalities that are changed / removed
Build new tests from scratch if a major change is made in a component – to open a fresh perspective