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The Dysfunctional Test Procedure

Posted in Blog on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 at 9:09 pm No Comments
The Dysfunctional Test Procedure

I’ve been writing a lot of functional test procedures recently. At least once a day I look up at the heavens (or my office ceiling fan) and say, “There must be a better way!”

In truth there is, and my workflow for writing procedures has gotten better over the years. I still wouldn’t call it easy, though. This is because we live in an imperfect world. In a perfect world everyone would communicate fully. Design documents would be complete. Scopes would be defined as clearly as entries in the Oxford English Dictionary. Yeah, that doesn’t describe the world I work in either.

Engineering plans contain sequences of operation. I’ve tried writing test procedures by transcribing these sequences but that rarely works, as they can be vague or incomplete and controls vendors (understandably) consider them mere starting points. Instead I have to step through the system component by component, compare what was designed vs. what was submitted vs. what was installed, then use my judgement to decide how to test the system for proper function.

It’s an imperfect workflow for an imperfect world.

But then, if our world were perfect, there’d be no need to commission.