61: Matt Heusser: Reduce Risks with Lean Software Testing

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Lean Software Testing – How to Reduce Risk

How many of you have been on projects where you ended up building the wrong thing? Or worked for a company that tried a process that was currently in vogue, only to see it fail? And of course, we’ve all felt the frustration of finding all types of bugs in our software that cause us to delay releasing it.

How can we reduce these common risks associated with developing software?

Matt Heusser, founder of Excelon Development — a one-stop shop for software testing and training — and the author of the book How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing will share with us some context-driven principles to help guide us around some of the risk roadblocks in our software development process.


About Matt


Matt has deep experience in software testing, project management, development, writing, and systems improvement. His extensive network of contacts in these fields has enabled him to put together a diversified, high-level team of experts at his consulting company Excelon. Excelon Development is a one-stop shop for software testing, training, and finding the best IT professionals to suit your needs.

In 2006, Matt was lead organizer for the initial Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference, a regional event that continues today. He organized the Agile-Alliance Sponsored Workshop on the Technical Debt Metaphor, and recently published a leading position paper on the subject for Better Software magazine.

As test and quality lead at Socialtext, Matt organized the test effort while staying a hands-on tester for three years. The test strategies he helped develop there were profiled in the book Beautiful Testing, published by O’Reilly Media in 2009. Chris McMahon described the same methods at the Agile Conference in 2009, and that same work inspired the open-source test framework Selenesse. Matt served on the board of directors for the Association for Software Testing, and was the testing track chair for the Agile Conference in 2013 and 2014.

In 2010 Matt was selected to participate in the American Society for Quality’s “Influential Voices” program, a national-level spotlight program.

You can often find Matt at software testing conferences. He has given presentations at Google’s Test Automation Conference, STAREast, the Software Test Professionals Conference, the Better Software Conference, and many more.

Quotes & Insights from this Test Talk

  • A manager from Boeing working on avionics who was injected into a video game project for the iPhone and a manager from that same video game project who quit and started working for Boeing, they would each bring with themselves experiences and ideas that were not good for their new environment, so I would … If someone said, “I want to get good testing,” I think context is important. “I want to understand how to get better at it.” I would say seep yourself, indulge in the context-driven software testing literature.
  • The other piece of the Context-Driven School that people often miss is this idea that people working together are the most important part of any project’s context.
  • Context-driven people tend to lean toward exploratory testing and Session-Based Test Management
  • Measurement dysfunction is a real problem. I think Goodhart’s law is when any measure becomes a target, you’re in trouble. 
  • I teach a class called “Lean Software Test”, “Lean Software Delivery”. It started out in testing, and then we’ve expanded it to cover the whole delivery cycle. It’s very compatible with this Shift Left idea.
  • You give good people a bad process, they’ll fix it. You give bad people a good process, they will screw it up, so people matter. People trump process
  • Where I’m sitting here today. Operating out of fear hasn’t done me any favor
  • Much, much more!


Connect with Matt

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