So far, I rambled about Improving Processes.  In Part I, I wrote about how we may recognize there’s a problem, but may not be sure what the problem is.  In Part II, I wrote about the problem of introspection and how hard it can be to see outside ourselves and look at how we really are.  In Part III, I wrote about Don Quixote and the unattainable goal of  Process when the Charter and Mission are in disarray. 

The simple fact is, each of these things play a part in that which makes up Test Process Improvement

Now for the secret.  TPI is not the pointTPI is not the goal

In the end, TPI doesn’t really matter except as a means to the REAL goal. 

The REAL goal is this:  Better Value from your Testing Effort.

The thing is, most humans don’t think in a clear fashion.  I know I don’t think in a way that can be described as linear in any way, shape or form.  That is particularly true when I’m working on a problem.  If I DID I would long ago have stopped looking into something I was testing because it did not feel right, even though there was nothing on the surface to indicate there was a problem.  When I have one of those feelings, I sometimes will go over what I have for notes, look at the logs from the applications (not the nicely formatted versions, but the raw logs) or poke around in the database.  Sometimes its nothing.  Sometimes, I sit back and think “Well, look at that.  Where did that come from?”  (Actually, I sometimes say that out loud.)

That is the pay-off for me as a tester.  I found something with a strong likelihood of causing grief for the users/customers which will in turn cause grief for my company. 

I don’t know how to describe that in a linear fashion.  I wish I did, I’d probably be able to make a pile of money from it and live comfortably for the rest of my life from the earnings.  The fact is, its too organic – organic in the sense that Jerry Weinberg used the term the first time I encountered it in this context (Becoming a Technical Leader) not in the Chemistry organic/carbon-based context. 

The Test Script (and its companion, the formal Test Process Document) is not the Test.  The Test is the part that is done by the M1-A1 Human Brain.  Using that most powerful tool is the key to gaining value from testing – or improving the value you are currently getting. 

You can have the best Process in the World of Software.  You can have the best Charter and Mission statements.  You can have the best tools money can buy.

Without encouraging your people to think when they are working, and rewarding them when they do it creatively and do it well, none of those other things matter.