Risk's Vital Role in Test Management: An Interview with George Wilkinson

[interview]
Summary:
Ensuring the effectiveness of software testing efforts can require expert assessment and management. In this interview, George Wilkinson uses his more than twenty years of experience in the QA and testing fields to explain how risk-based testing can increase effectiveness, focus, and communication.
We took a minute to sit down with George Wilkinson ahead of his upcoming STAR CANADA session, titled "Risk-based Testing: Not for the Fainthearted." Read more to learn why risk-based testing shouldn't be feared, but embraced and communicated clearly to both testers and project stakeholders. 
 
Noel Wurst: What does effective "risk management" involve, and why do people sometimes struggle with this task?
 
George Wilkinson: A number of stages should be involved with good risk management: Identification, analysis, mitigation and monitoring. Unless these stages are conducted diligently and with real intention then these could be the reasons why risk management will fail.
 
NW: What are some of the factors involved when deciding when you've tested enough?
 
GW: This could be viewed as the ultimate question within testing, regardless of whether you are testing software or hardware. After having planned and executed sufficiently, using risk, deciding that you’ve done enough testing will come from what you are observing. If you are reaping little reward from your efforts, and you have applied risk-based testing well, then you can conclude that you have tested enough. There may, of course, be other reasons that will dictate when you have to stop, such as when you run out of time, budget, or you are required to stop only when you have completed what you planned to do.
 
NW: Your upcoming STAR CANADA session is titled "Risk-based Testing: Not for the Fainthearted." That makes risk-based testing sound pretty intimidating! Why isn't it for the fainthearted?
 
GW: It’s not meant to be intimidating. In my experience the act of applying risk based testing any project with real intention can be hard-work as you are trying to make everything count. So it’s more about being serious about your intentions as opposed to anything else.
 
NW: You've managed test teams for both small businesses and large corporations; what similar challenges exist across teams of any size?
 
GW: Good communication, fully appreciating the task in hand, and ensuring that we meet the challenges of delivery.
 
NW: If there's a disconnect between project managers and testers, what's the best way to address this to make sure everyone understands the risks at hand?
 
George: This is answered in the talk. But essentially it’s all about the relationship between both. As a tester or rather as a test manager you need to break-down any communication barriers.
 
 
George Wilkinson has more than twenty-one years of experience in the field of software testing and quality assurance. George spent many of those years managing test teams and evolving the testing process from small businesses to large corporate companies. Having worked in a variety of industries during his career, he has enthused, mentored, managed, and inspired many test professionals within the industry.
 
 

About the author

Noel Wurst's picture Noel Wurst

Noel Wurst has written for numerous blogs, websites, newspapers, and magazines, and has presented educational conference sessions for those looking to become better writers. In his spare time, Noel can be found spending time with his wife and two sons—and tending to the food on his Big Green Egg. Noel eagerly looks forward to technology's future, while refusing to let go of the relics of the past.

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