Avoiding the Software Catastrophe

Those of you who work in the retail environment know all too well the anxiety an upcoming holiday season brings. A lot of companies put all systems on a “frozen” status for some number of weeks or even months prior to the beginning of the Holiday “crunch.” The thought of a system outage during Black Friday, for example, is enough to cause staff members to start losing sleep, developing stress-induced illnesses, and plummeting morale weeks in advance.

But now that everybody knows everything about anything bad that happens (it’s called The Internet), we see that software catastrophes are not limited to the Holiday Season. On any given day you can read about an airline accidentally selling thousands of dollars of First Class tickets to prime locations for a fraction of the regular cost losing thousands of dollars in fares and lost profits due to fuel costs.

So what went wrong? Didn’t they test their software/hardware changes and improvements? Think about this, if you knew the software for the robotic assisted surgery machine had been tested with the same standards your company uses for changes to your order processing system, would you still want that cardiac bypass done using it?

We’ve talked about automated testing, test-driven development, etc. in previous Conferences, and in this one, too. This session will address not just methodologies but also the Human side of testing. How do we write tests – automated and manual – That work. We will also discuss how to start preparing your current legacy code for automated testing. (Hint – don’t throw out a gazillion lines of proprietary legacy code and start over from scratch. Or not even by buying a "package."

Clif Oliver

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