“The quality race” – STEM wins

A large German major with a mature QA practice is seeking new ways to improve its test practice. It all starts with a talk  delivered at this company on “The Science & Engineering of Effective Testing” to its senior management staff and test practitioners in the company. We are amazed at the interest in this topic (75+ people attend the talk) and the enthusiastic response – we are deeply humbled.

A few weeks after this, the management decides to experiment with STEM-based approach to testing. They identify about twenty five people (a small subset of their QA team) to be trained on the new way of testing. We are delighted and conduct a 5-day workshop with intense application orientation, to enable them to understand STEM. The company then decides to conduct a bold experiment- a pilot to evaluate STEM powered approach to testing vis-a-vis their way of testing. They identify a product that is in use for a few years with consumers across the world. They decide to have two five-member identical teams consisting of similar mix of experience levels of people, each given a timeframe of one month to evaluate the new release of this product. These two teams are  kept apart to ensure a controlled experiment and the countdown starts. We wait with bated breath…

The month is slow for us, but it flies for the two teams. Enormous data has been generated and the management analyses them thoroughly to spot the winner. A month later we are called by the senior management. We are sweating, have we won? A few minutes later, it is clear that STEM is a winner. The STEM powered team has designed 3x test cases compared to the non-STEM team and  uncovered 2x number of defects! The icing on the cake is that the couple of defects uncovered by the STEM powered team are “residual defects” i.e. they have been latent in the product for over a year (Remember Minesweeper game on Windows) and one of them corrupts the entire data in the database. Now the discussion steers to effort/time analysis – Does application of STEM require more effort/time? The team has conclusive evidence that it is not significant, implying STEM has enabled them to think better,  not work longer or more.

What enabled the STEM powered team to win the “Race of quality” ? The answers are given by the team itself, and we are delighted, as we have believed in them, and have seen results when we implement them. The top three reasons are: (1) The notion of Potential Defect Types (PDT) is powerful as it forces the team to hypothesize what can go wrong and enable them to setup a purposeful quality goal (2) PDT forces a thorough understanding of the customer expectations and the intended behavior of the product (3) PDT ensures that test design creates adequate test cases, thus eliminating defect escapes and paving the way for robust software.

The STAG team is delighted as their customer acknowledges the effectiveness of the STEM based approach. The team is convinced that STEM powered approach is a winner and is raring to run the marathon, with the customer also cheering them to win!

A heartfelt “Thank you” to the STEM powered team and the innovation-centered Senior Management of the company.

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