When the customer is wrong

 The saying goes, “Rule #1: The customer is always right.” But what about the customers who appear to be idiots or ignoramuses? What if the customer is wrong? The extended cliché goes, “Rule #2: If the customer is wrong, see rule #1.” Now that’s really stupid. Customers are often wrong and make nonsensical requests about…

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Test failures

 For more than a decade, Microsoft (and the whole software industry) has been evolving how it tests software. The goals have been to increase quality, reduce cost, and be more responsive to the market. The areas of focus have been automation, telemetry, changing the role of testers, and reducing the number of testers. So, how’s…

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Bogeyman buddy—DevOps

 Tell average naïve developers that their team is embracing DevOps, and panic will fill their eyes. Their hearts will race, their muscles will tense, and their resumes will reinvigorate. DevOps is the bogeyman to unfamiliar developers. The thought of being on call 24 hours a day, 365.25 days a year, to support the crappy code…

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PM: Secret weapon or wasted headcount?

 Microsoft is one of the few software companies that uses program managers (PMs). PMs, developers, and testers form the infamous engineering triad. Together they prioritize and cost features, triage bugs, and make design decisions. Now that highly agile services teams are rethinking the test role, should we reconsider the PM role as well? What the…

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Hired helpers

 There are never enough resources to complete our ambitious plans, so Microsoft is constantly hiring help—vendors and contingent staff (CSG). Full-time employees (FTEs) are hired too, but the relationship is different—at least it’s supposed to be. Ever since the $97 million December 2000 settlement of the “permatemps” case, Microsoft has been very careful to treat…

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That’s not funny

 Tension fills the conference room a few weeks before the Client release. The Client team wasn’t told that the Database team had added a parameter to the AddClient API. The Client broke spectacularly—the latest in a series of miscommunication and miscues by both teams. Only now were the Client and Database teams meeting to discuss…

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Test don’t get no respect

 I love Microsoft®. We’ve been together happily for many years. If you’ve been in a healthy long-term relationship, then you know what this means—there are things about Microsoft that make me curse, stomp, and spit. I’ve learned to tolerate them, but they still make me cringe. A prime example is our disrespect for critical disciplines…

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