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Software Testing:
Value Situation and Context - Part 1

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"Structured Software Testing- The Discipline of Discovering Software Errors”
by Arunkumar Khannur

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About Mr. Arunkumar Khannur


Arunkumar Khannur is an internationally reputed Software Testing Guru, India’s Noted Software Testing Authority, Subject Matter Expert, Advisor, Faculty and Author in Software Testing.

He has provided consulting services to 48 companies in 9 countries, and trained 20000+ IT professionals. He has M. Tech. (Computer Science) and M. Sc. (Physics)  to his credit.. He held various roles in Wipro, Logica, Planetasia, and QAI, He has M.Sc in Physics & M.Tech in Computer Science to his credit. 

Mr. Khannur authored 7 books including his recent “Structured Software Testing – The Discipline of Discovering Software Errorsbook from Partridge (A Penguin Company)  and “Software Testing Techniques and Applications” (2011), the Best Selling Book from Pearson Publisher. He maintains : "Khannur's Software Testing Knowledge Hub" which has benefited 12500+ Software Test Practitioners worldwide so far.

Mr. Khannur provides consulting, advisory, and training services across  India, China, Russia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Malaysia, Indonesia, Slovenia, and also, to UNIDO - United Nations Industrial Development Organization. At present, he is Chairman and CEO of ISQT Process and Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore (

Upcoming Workshops by Mr. Arunkumar Khannur
Bootcamp for Test Managers
17-18 Sep, 2014 |Bangalore
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25-26 Sep, 2014 |Bangalore
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30 Sep, 2014 |Bangalore



Software Testing is always situation and context sensitive. If we do not understand situation which gives bigger picture, and if we are not sensitive to context so as to understand project specific priorities and practicalities then we cannot fulfill main objectives of software testing. No importance for situation and context would make testing as a tedious process with lesser efficiency, not up-to mark effectiveness, and totally unsatisfactory exercise. In this multi-part series, I will be considering and detailing on following points which play crucial role in good enough software testing:

  • The value of any practice depends on its context
  • There are good practices in context, but there are no best practices
  • People, working together, are the most important part of any project's context
  • Projects unfold over time in ways that are often not predictable
  • The product is a solution. If the problem isn't solved, the product doesn't work
  • Good software testing is a challenging intellectual process
  • If we do not value user, user does not value our product
  • Group thinking, creativity, and collaboration pays rich dividends

I will be discussing in this part on - "The value of any practice depends on its context".

The Value of any Practice depends on its Context
Software Testing is no exception for this. We need to understand the context, align to the context, and focus on delivering according to the expectations and requirements on deliverables and user.

Understanding Context: Like knowing on available test basis and their quality; understanding testing scope; understanding constraints like cost, effort, schedule, resources etc; understanding required and expected test deliverables sets the right beginning. If we are equipped with experience, questionnaire based leadership, brainstorming, system thinking, risk driven thinking, visualization, user centric thinking so as to develop big picture then we are rightly poised to move to next activity. If we have good and clear understanding on context, testing will be high yielding process. However quite often situation in initial stages of any project are always flooded with lack of information or bad inputs which always result in substandard test deliverables. Test Leader, like a great commander of an army, shall be in a position to dynamically align the testing team towards final goal by finding a way dynamically by using test strategy and test approaches to address these uncertainties. In brief, strategy based context sensitive, creative, and dynamic testing is preferred over plan based, test case driven, exhaustive testing.

Align to the Context: In order to align to the context, we need to focus on
delivering according to the expectations and required deliverables. Means, we have to keep end in mind. We have to prefer effective testing which focuses on selective testing by using test approaches like agile, exploratory, risk based, or model based or combined approach with proper mix and match. Also, collaboration, design thinking, system thinking, synthesis thinking, ability to evolve user stories- models- risk resources- quality profiling- exploration and soon play a great role. Appropriate test strategy with carefully chosen test approach with outcome based testing is preferred over plan & process centric, measurements driven testing.

Focus on Delivering according to the Expectations and Requirements on Deliverables and User: Expectations and requirements are always specific to project and user. Project specific requirements and expectations, in general, are explicit and specified. However user specific requirements and expectations, in general, are implicit and unspecified. However as days are progressing, success of the product is decided by end-user. In brief, quality is in the eyes and perception of the end-user.
Project specific thinking will make us to understand constraints and always help us aligning by dynamically adjusting ourselves by balancing scope-effort-schedule-quality throughout. Based on whether software is a part of business application or safety critical application, we need to make our decision by making one or two of scope-effort-schedule-quality parameters as important and making remaining ones as less important. By doing this, we have to make trade-off decisions and align testing dynamically at a defined intervals.
User centric thinking allows us to go beyond project and product. User does not care about formal requirements of product and also, will not like to be forced to use an application in a specific way. He wants to be respected in terms of supporting his language, ethnicity, limitations, and interests. In order to address this, we need to to simulate product environment by considering possible combination of deployment environment, localization, internationalization, accessibility, interoperability, reliability, maintainability, efficiency, and portability aspects. Many of these aspects shall be considered right at the initial stages of the software testing where we may have to look at approaches like quality engineering and Test Driven Development (TDD), simulation based non-destructive testing, behavioral testing, combinatorial testing, and heuristic testing, and so on.

In summary, good testing always begins with understanding and aligning to situation and context by keeping user but not project or product at the core.

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Happy Testing!!


Arunkumar Khannur
Chairman and CEO, 
ISQT Process and Consulting Services Pvt Ltd.,
732, 1st Floor, 12th Main, 3rd Block, Rajajinagar, Bangalore, INDIA |

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