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Common IT and Software Testing Project Blunders

One of the key goals of any ISEB and ISTQB software testing certification is to teach software testers what not to do.  As such, the syllabi are focused on teaching foundational knowledge as well as how to apply this knowledge to practical, real world situations.  It is in this spirit that I thought I would highlight some of the most common mistakes I have encountered throughout my IT and software testing career. 

One of the fundamental problems that I have seen time and time again is a lack of adequate involvement from all the key stakeholders.  This is critical because when stakeholders are properly engaged, they become advocates for your project.  This in turn helps grease the skids in terms of getting approvals as well as communicating across organizational barriers.  Therefore it is important to continuously network with key internal stakeholders, and keep them in the loop at all times. 

Another quite obvious one is poor communication.  As they say, communication is king.  As obvious as this is, it is often under-appreciated because it takes dedication, effort, and adequate tools to achieve.  Communication just happens, but GOOD communication takes work.  Implementing a good online bug tracking or project management software system, giving frequent email updates, and having weekly conference calls or status meetings are all critical aspects of improving communication.

Another obvious one is scope creep.  A little of this is often inevitable, but you must not let it get out of control and totally change the nature of the project.  Thus, work overtime on getting the business requirements 100% correct the first time.  This might involve meetings or calls with stakeholders to go over each requirement, one by one, for final signoff before the next stage can begin.

Finally, projects with unrealistic or undefined deadlines are doomed to fail.  It is critical to avoid the temptation of setting arbitrary deadlines.  It puts unnecessary pressure on the team which often leads to errors.  Yes, a project plan and timeline are necessary, but please have a little flexibility on the delivery dates.

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