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Ethical Dilemma: Risks of Robustness of Testing

First, consider the following case study situation:

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Risk management often brings up ethical issues for project managers.  For instance, software testing can be done in several different ways and with several different levels of rigor and comprehensiveness.  Simpler tests may be faster and cheaper and may involve less system downtime, possibly using fewer test cases and fewer test runs.  More robust testing may be rather expensive and time consuming, including extensive and rigorous test cases, many test runs, regression testing of previously completed production software, and so forth.

The PM often must balance robustness of testing with time and cost.  (Recall the multi-way balance of the triple constraint.)  Sometimes, it can boil down to a trade-off between acceptable quality and delivering a system on schedule and on budget.  Either way it goes, that is a risk.  The approach usually depends on both the criticality and the context of the system.

Then answer these questions:

a)    From a risk management and project management point of view, in what situation(s) should a system be more robustly tested?

b)    In what situation(s) might less testing be acceptable?

c)    Suppose you were the project manager facing pressure from your customer or executive sponsor to reduce testing time when you believe more robust testing was needed.  What approach would you use to try to convince the executive manager to follow your advice?

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