Create a safety net, not a hammock!

A well-known Dutch politician (Willem Drees) once said: “Social Security should be a safety net, not a hammock!” He might have been talking about software testing. Testing, too, should be a safety net, not a hammock.

Many organizations or projects use a variety of test levels. For example, a series of unit test, unit integration test, system test, system integration test, functional acceptance test, user acceptance test, end-to-end test and production acceptance testing is no exception. This may seem sensible, however, it may well create lazy developers. “I deliver my code on time and I don’t have to worry about whether I introduce errors in it or not, because after me the code will be extensively tested anyway.” And, lo and behold, the developer dives into his hammock!

It appears that in organizations or projects that are not accustomed to arranging and executing many test levels, software with fewer errors is delivered. How is this possible? The answer is actually quite simple. Because of the many tests the programmer feels less responsibile for the quality of his product. In situations where software is put into production almost immediately after a unit test, the programmer is forced to take responsibility. After all, when something goes wrong, everyone knows who is to blame. In short, reducing and/or integrating test levels, and at the same time appealing more to the developer’s, or actually, all project members responsibility, promotes the delivery of quality software.

This will make testing a safety net again rather than a hammock!

Leo van der Aalst


Leo van der Aalst is Dutch and studied chemistry, mathematics, physics and biology. However, he switched over to IT almost thirty years ago. After having gone through the classic IT path - from programmer to program manager - he became a specialist in the testing area, in which he held functions such as test manager, test advisor, research & development manager, line manager and agile coach. Leo applied his knowledge and experience in the project- and test management field during a number of international projects and consultancy trajectories (in USA, Germany, Denmark and Austria). He also likes to share his knowledge with other people by writing books and articles, and giving presentations en workshops. Leo is co-author of TMap NEXT® for result-driven testing, TMap NEXT® Business Driven Test Management, TMap® Human Driven and TMap NEXT® in scrum books. He has written many articles (e.g. ‘Software Testing as a Service - STaaS’), which can be found through his website ( Leo is past professor Software Quality at Fontys University Eindhoven in the Netherlands, a much sought-after teacher of test training and a regular speaker at national and international conferences. Leo is an accredited trainer for courses as Certified Agile Tester (CAT), ISTQB Agile-Tester and TMap Suite Test Engineer and Test Master. Besides all this, Leo is development lead of the ISTQB Foundation and Advanced Agile-Tester Syllabi - which are chaired by Rex -, member of the programme committee of the (Dutch) National Software Quality Conference, fellow of SogetiLabs and member of Capgemini Expert Connect.

More on Leo van der Aalst.

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  1. Jos Punter December 20, 2013 Reply

    Leo i got one question about
    After all, when something goes wrong, everyone knows who is to blame.
    But do they ?
    You probably refer to the Developer, but is he the only one to blame ?