The Poetry of Quality Engineering

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Quality can be a dry subject, especially if everything is working. Emotion disappears under the weight of green status reports. Everything is good. The world is fine. 

Mind you – when something goes wrong then the emotions do come out. Ranging from the “we don’t blame-shame but what ******* let this ***** into **** production” not being an unheard of response. 

But unlike the Vulcans in Star Trek humans have an emotional dimension that is hard to ignore, even if we wish at times we could.  

Sometimes to we strip the emotion and the beauty from our plans and documents (rightly so) but it can be a tiring thing to read a document of noun-noun-verb statements, in which the language is diminished into a report equivalent of a programming language. 

So to address this I wanted to find a poem that described a little of the choice faced by software testers every day as the balance time and resources to test the software and get it ready and remove the defects before they can cause too much trouble.

I think I found it. 

There is a poem by the American poet Robert Frost, called The Road Not Taken and it was written in 1916, it describes more beautifully and simply than I ever could the challenge faced by a tester having to make a decision. 

It starts 

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 

And sorry I could not travel both”

and it ends 

“I took the one less travelled by,

 And that has made all the difference” 

A perfect description of not having the time to test everything and deciding to go down the code path that has been visited less often.

Andrew Fullen

About

Andrew has been a managing consultant with Sogeti since 2009. In this role, he has worked on a number of major clients across government and private sectors covering tasks such as security test manager for a major government pan-agency project, helping with restructuring a bank rescued by the UK government during the financial crash, re-planning a major welfare project and architecting a performance policy and approach to address significant shortfalls in the delivered solution.

More on Andrew Fullen.

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