The Tyro Blog

8 April 2016 - 4 min read


When to embrace disruptive testing

As a die hard software testing consultant, I’ve had a hypersensitive allergy to working on long term projects or committing myself to working in one company. You can imagine my surprise when I found myself signing up to my latest gig – a permanent role in Tyro Payments.

But on reflection, it’s perhaps not all that surprising. My personal blog is called Maverick Tester. I chose the name, because I want my testing to remain congruent with my values and beliefs. For me, this has resulted in being an outsider and a disruptor to a testing industry unfortunately riddled with easy money by selling ‘best practice’. My aversion to the concept of best practice has grown over the years as in reality it fails miserably.

Tyro Payments avoids ‘best practice’ too. Here, we adapt and react to the market and consumer demand, as opposed to imposing a rigid and inflexible doctrine. We see the future and we embrace it, as opposed to shackling it with ancient rites and rituals.

Many people see testing as a consistent repeatable process, tending to rigidity in its application, heavily dependent on scripts (be they physical documents or code). It’s a practice that tends to be adopted by sincere people who know little or nothing about testing. Experienced testers know that testing is performed despite any onerous documentation forced upon them. Don’t believe me? Sit down and watch one at work!

To keep alive a person needs to breathe. You breathe in, but you also need to breathe out. At Tyro, as we develop so we test, the two are not separable. We also perceive testing as a skilled activity performed by many. It’s a verb, a ‘doing’ thing. Imagine being asked to describe ahead of time precise directions to a street parking spot in Sydney. You don’t know where the parking spot is, how can you hope to provide exact instructions?

Yet, when testers are asked to find bugs, they are expected to write hundreds of these ‘directions’ and then follow them repeatedly.

I’d like to suggest an alternative approach. If someone did ask you for help in finding a parking spot in Sydney, I imagine you would use some common strategies. For instance you may consider the day of the week, or the time of the day to help you assess and guide your decision. You have spots around Sydney that have worked for you in the past. These strategies work sometimes and sometimes they fail. As humans we accept that fallibility. Similarly in testing we use heuristics and strategies to help guide our bug investigation, acknowledging our frailty as humans to get it right all the time.

It all makes sense right? But these ideas are a massive disruption to the testing industry which up to now has sold factory style testing as best practice and expensive software testing tools as silver bullets.

Tyro Payments is a disruptor to the banking sector. Its goal is to shake up the banking industry and be a champion for small business.

Disruption is fairly easy to create but it’s not always easy to control the effect. Challenging the status quo can be fun, but how to effect real long term change requires maturity and careful planning. It’s not good enough to disrupt a market or a concept and then go away hoping for positive change to adopt itself through some sort of mystical osmosis. Effective change requires deliberate action. In testing, that means helping people adopt new ideas through experiencing them. Typically this is done through coaching and mentoring.

To be effective at disruption also requires a culture that embraces change and offers a safe environment to fail – a philosophy passionately adopted by Tyro.

And that’s why I’m now a Tyro employee. Together we will disrupt the world !

Video on Talk from agile Australia on Disruptive Testing.