Why QA is like TSA

I’m sitting in Logan airport (Boston) on my way to Washington D.C. I have an early flight, and was up late so I’m a little slow this morning.  And even though I’m very familiar with all of the ridiculous TSA rules, I forgot to take out my 1 quart plastic bag to display my 3 oz liquids and gels (geez, it sounds even stupider as I write about the “rules.”) Anyway, as my bags are going through the x-ray, I realize that I forgot to take out the plastic bag. Doh! So I’m expecting them to pull me aside and ask me to take out the plastic bag.

But what happens? Nothing. My bag sails through. That’s what you call “shoddy quality assurance.” It reminds me of the time my wife and I were late for a flight. We had a choice to make: go through security, lose all of her cosmetics (over $75) and try to make the flight or spend the night at a hotel. We chose to go through. They threw away all of her cosmetics but *completely* missed my toothpaste, deodorant etc etc. Oh, and if you’re wondering– we didn’t make the flight. That was not a happy day.

So what’s my point? I thinking about all of this as the Punchbowl team is racing against the clock to make sure that our new release is up to our high quality standards. We’re professional software developers, and it’s really important to us that we find the issues (rather than our users). But just like the TSA, we can’t be perfect. There are too many issues, too many permutations, too many scenarios. In my 15 years in software development, I’ve learned a few things. And here is one: No matter how much you test, you just can’t catch everything.

At the end of the day, we rely on our users to help us find anything we missed. We’ll  respond quickly, and tackle the most pressing issues first. Like the TSA, we can only do so much to find the issues. The rest is up to all of us.

Start your next event or party at http://www.mypunchbowl.com


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