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Shiva is Annoyed with My Questions (James Bach’s Blog)

On October 3, 2010, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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A person named Shiva contacted me on Skype back in May. Then he didn’t say anything for several months, until yesterday we had this exchange.

Shiva:

Hi James!

James:

Hi.

Shiva:

I wanted to set up some time with you to chat about an idea and interest you in it…what would be a good time to chat? Would 1130 AM PST Mon work?

James:

What is it about?

Shiva:

Well, I am on the advisory board of a company in China that does phenomenal work and they are very good in testing and SW dev. wanted to see if you wanted to take advantage of their low rates and high quality and make some money? Especially if you are planning to enter that business?

James:

I run a testing company.

Shiva:

I know.

James:

So… Why would I need a testing company? I already have one!

Shiva:

To improve your margins. Scale.

James:

I don’t see how that would be possible. I do a certain kind of testing that requires a high level of skill. I doubt that any other testing company in the world has that skill. Well, there are a couple, but they are expensive.

Shiva:

That is exactly the point I wanted to walk you through as this company has a phenomenal ability to learn, get resources due to their location and yet do high quality work. It is an idea. I am willing to explore it with you if you are interested. If not, I completely understand.

James:

I would have to see examples of the quality work you say that your company does. Is it posted online? Most companies that say they do quality work don’t do quality work at all. They do terrible work. So, I would need to see what you can do.

Also, I would need to know your training practices. I’d want to see them in writing. If you forward your training materials to me, I could review them.

Shiva:

Sure. Before I go forward, it would be good to have a three-way chat with their president/co-founder, myself and you and I am happy to arrange for samples for you to review – work samples, training practices.

James:

I won’t be interested in talking unless you can show me some basic evidence that we have anything to talk about.

Let me ask you just a few questions:

– Does your test lab document all of its testing in detail? Is every test procedure and action documented?

– Do you have complete expected results documented, too?

– Do you maintain statistics on passed/failed tests? Do you graph them?

– Are your testers ISTQB certified?

Your answers to these questions will allow me to quickly assess your capability. Otherwise, I worry you will waste your time.

Shiva:

James, all these are great questions and I have answers that you will like but I need to think about what you said first. In my opinion, business is not just some Q&A, it is also building cross-company relationships and getting to know each other. I need to think about whether we will be a fit that way at all with each other. Please don’t take this personally but I need to give this some careful thought, or else it may not even work even though we are able to deliver capabilities.

James:

You are right. Business is about relationships. I want a relationship with people who can answer basic questions. These are questions that I routinely answer for my clients.

I’m a testing company, too, right? You know that, right? I know what my clients demand of me, and I’m demanding that of you, too. If what you want is an uncritical client who is easily impressed, you came to the wrong guy.

I’m not taking it personally. I’m taking it as an indication that you are a bit over your head.

Shiva:

There is no need to be rude, James.

James:

I’m not being rude. I’m being honest. It’s not my problem if you can’t handle that.

Shiva:

(Skype indicates Shiva has gone offline.)

NOTICE TO TEST LABORATORIES THAT KEEP CALLING ME:

It is not rude for a potential customer to challenge your corporate capability. That’s normal due diligence. Your job is to speak honestly and forthrightly about what you can and can’t do. Don’t dodge questions.

The reason I’m skeptical is that almost no test lab actually knows what it is doing. And there’s no excuse. Test labs ought to know how to test, but mostly I see labs much better at faking testing than doing it.

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