A modest proposal for improving the efficiency of testing services

I would like to offer for your perusal a modest proposal for improving the efficiency of testing services whilst producing great benefits for clients, suppliers and testers (with a nod to Dr Jonathan Swift).

Lately I have been reading some fascinating material about the creative process, the ways that we direct our attention, and how these are linked. Whilst cooking dinner one evening I had a sudden insight into how I could launch an exciting and innovative testing service.

It was no accident that I had my eureka moment when I was doing something entirely unrelated to testing. Psychologists recognise that the creative process starts with two stages. Firstly comes the preparation stage. We familiarise ourselves with a cognitively demanding challenge. We then have to step away from the problem and perform some activity that doesn’t require much mental effort. This is the incubation stage, which gives our brain the opportunity to churn away, making connections between the problem, our stored knowledge and past experience. Crucially, it gives us the chance to envisage future possibilities. Suddenly, and without conscious effort, the answer can come, as it did to Archimedes whose original eureka moment arrived in the bath when he realised that the volume of irregular objects could be calculated by the volume of water that they displaced.

My modest proposal is to exploit this eureka principle in an entirely new way for testing. Traditionally, testers have followed the two stage approach to creativity. We have familiarised ourselves with the client, the business problem and the proposed application. We have then moved on to the vital incubation stage of mindless activity. This has traditionally been known as “writing the detailed test plans” and “churning out the test scripts”.

Now the trouble with these documents hasn’t been their negligible value for the actual testing. That’s the whole point of the incubation stage. We have to do something unrelated and mindless so that our brains can come up with creative ideas for testing. No, the real problem with the traditional approach is that there is no direct valuable output at all. The documents merely gather dust. They haven’t even been used to feed the heating.

I therefore intend to launch a start-up testing services company called CleanTest. CleanTest’s testers will familiarise themselves with the client and the application in the preparation stage. Then, for the incubation stage, they will move on to cleaning the data centre, the development shop and the toilets, whilst the creative ideas formulate. Once their creative ideas for testing have formed they will execute the testing.

Everyone will be a winner. The client will have testing performed to at least the same standard as before. They will also have clean offices and be able to save money by getting rid of their existing cleaning contractor. The testers will have increased job satisfaction from seeing shiny clean premises, instead of mouldering shelfware that no-one will ever read. And I will make a pile of money.

Of course it is vital for the credibility of CleanTest that the company is ISO compliant. We will therefore comply with the ISO 14644 cleanrooms standard, and ISO 12625 toilet paper standard. Compliance with two ISO standards will make us twice as responsible as those fly-by-night competitors who are compliant only with ISO 29119.

Anyone who wishes to join with me and invest in this exciting venture is welcome to get in touch. I also have some exciting opportunities that trusted contacts in Nigeria have emailed to me.