Take off your ‘khopay’

In the rural parts of my native province Punjab, the life revolves around agriculture. The word Punjab literally means “Panj Aab” i.e. land of five rivers. In earlier times majority of the water wells were operated by animals mostly the Ox. Those animals have some sense and they don’t want to move in circle without any reason. To combat this, the Oxen were given special spectacles called ‘khopay’ which were made of leather and would block their view. They’ll keep on walking all day thinking that they have covered considerable distance whereas actually they were moving in circle just to keep the specially made ‘Rahut’ to keep moving and fetch water out of the well. I could not find a picture of those ‘khopay’ wearing, very smart looking Oxen but got this one in which their eyes are covered with a cloth. Nevertheless, the purpose is the same.

A-well-in-a-village

(the original picture is here: http://nativepakistan.com/photos-of-pakistani-villages/ and it has a good collection of village photos. Do have a look)

What’s the purpose of this story? Not because I am from Punjab and I want to promote the local culture but because I believe that some of the centuries old wisdom can be used in modern world. So if you want to really travel some distance, please take off your ‘khopay’.

I can go to length on this subject as I’d do in a personal talk but here my subject is software testing, so let’s see if testers have ‘khopay’ and they can take them off.

One ‘khopay’ is that testers often get into their silos keeping disconnected with rest of the team. Only if they could talk more to other Amigos in the team, they could get rid of the ‘khopay’ and would see an entirely new view of the world. In a recent article in Better Magazine’s July/August 2013 issue, an article by Julie Hurst explains pretty well one such team that resulted in the false belief that everybody can be a tester. Read the article for more details.

The other ‘khopay’ is test plans. When you start running an application while have the ‘khopay’ of the test plan, your view is blocked and you only see things that test plan wants you to see. Exploratory testing can get you rid of this and as Micheal Bolton explains in his recent blog for EuroSTAR:

“In my observation, a tester who follows a test case strictly does not find many bugs, nor does the test case help with the really serious work of investigating, exploring, reproducing, and reporting a problem. Nonetheless, many testers find themselves being evaluated by the number of test cases they have performed in a day, rather than the value of the information that they’ve provided to the development team.”

The above ‘khopay’ are taken on voluntarily basis by the testers but on other occasions they are provided with some nice ‘khopay’ by others. If you hear your team members saying statements like these, chances are that you are being offered a shiny pair of “khopay”, so be careful:

“The product is not yet ready to be tested”

“The answer to this question is too technical for you to understand”

“This area is well tested through unit tests written by Developers”

“…”

Can you think of other ‘khopay’ in testing? Or other software development work?

5 thoughts on “Take off your ‘khopay’

  1. First, it is a very catchy title for any “Paindu” like myself….compelled me to read whole article,,,and relating it to testing aspect is really amusing… :)
    Developers do not like to take off “Khoppay” while writing unit tests…very trivial tests are written..
    Even implementation approach involves.. taking a chunk of functionality… implementing it… and throwing it to repository.. without thoroughly/deeply evaluating\testing implementation of requirement…
    For testing, One possible way would be to get rid of Khoppa approach is “allocate some time for exploratory testing in whole day or week”..

    • Thanks Sohail and it’s time to take pride in being a “Paindu” (Villager).

      And thanks for mentioning a few more ‘khopay’. In some respect, while working on an iteration it is good to have a focus on the limited set of features but you are right that still in that case one should look beyond those ‘khopay’.

  2. Majd this is a very enlightening post and you have rightly emphasized on this important aspect.

    I would like to add one thing (one more ‘khopa’ to take off) and that is usually being oblivious to external factors. Most importantly: customer’s wants and needs. This concept can be named in different ways, (like “External View’, ‘Business Side’, ‘Customer Focus’, ‘Market Need’ and lot of such jargon…), but essentially the thing is that while testing (and developing as a whole) any product, think what an end-user would want, their usage, expectations and vision (or lack of it :-) ).

    Although this is a frequent lesson: to ‘think like a customer’ while testing, IMO what happens is that testers (and all developers) get tangled into endless iterations, long project time-lines, features, test-plans, stories and defects, and loose this vision.

    One way to accomplish this can be to be frequently involved with Product Management and Professional Services people, to discuss and evaluate above things, and take desirable action.

    If I can take this liberty, I would also add the aspect of competition here. Although this is mostly for Product Management and PS to do, but as testers mature, they should also be able to look out and ahead to what competition is offering and how it affects customers’ wants and needs.

    And yes, this goes for everyone in software development, testers or programmers. But I think its more essential for testers, specially in a QA role.

    • Thanks Mugheera for your thoughts and you brought a good one. No one cares for the ‘poor’ user but cries too much that we care a lot :)

      In general, if the three Amigos (Testers, Programmers and Business Analyst) can keep in touch as much as they should, it will take account for that factor. As we know that even the end users keep changing their mind about the feature set, so a constant connections is what is needed. I covered this in an earlier post here: http://knowledgetester.org/2013/03/28/three-amigos/

  3. Pingback: Software qali kara lo | Knowledge Tester

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