The “Mythical” QA schedule

I just finished reading The Mythical Man Month by Frederick Brooks. This classic was still amazingly relevant, even thirty some years later.

Some of the tactics he suggests have just been made obsolete by the advances in technology – however, his use of a surgical team as a model for software teams seemed surprisingly agile and modern (not that agile and modern are synonymous). What was most interesting to me was the importance he placed on software testing. In his planning for software schedules, he allots half the project time to testing and bug fixes.

What could you do with that kind of time? Could better fixes be implemented for bugs? Would more bugs be fixed pre-launch? I find that as development schedules get pushed out, it is testing that get shortened.

Squished between milestones that can’t move or running up against a launch date that has already been announced, testing is often a race against time. Sometimes – new projects are hard to estimate for. Sure, you know how long it will take you to run through your test cases, but what about the debugging time? That varies greatly depending on the bugs found. Having half the schedule devoted to testing (or even just a greater percentage) would certainly be a change.

Would such a schedule just stretch things out or get shortened itself? Would it hinder the creativity of the engineers by shortening their time? Or would it work to allow a team with greater importance and visibility placed on testing? A place where quality was not just a “QA” thing, but a collaborative time of testing and bug fixing that could bring the importance of quality at every step of the development process to the forefront.

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