Thursday, June 14, 2012

The electric chair problem ...

This week I’ve been having a bit of fun talking with testers about implicit (unspoken) requirements we might have for products.  [Don't take the next bit too seriously]

One that seems quite obvious is,

“It’s a bad product if it ends up killing someone”

Of course testers know better, “but our product is an electric chair … so isn’t it the purpose of it?”.

How could we check this?  In a real project we’d ask a Business Analyst for their opinion.

I have a great relationship with Patrick, one of my Business Analysts.  We share a bay, and there’s a lot of good natured banter.  Like me he used to be a programmer, and he turned BA, whilst I turned Tester – so we’re kind of equal but opposite. 

So I put it to him,

To: Patrick, chief BA
From: Mike, chief Tester
Subject:  Electric chair requirements

We’re working on an electric chair, and we need your business analysis of it.  For our product, is the guy strapped into the chair the end-user, the customer or just an interested party?

When it comes to the reliability of the product, who would you consult most with, they guy throwing the switch or the guy sitting in the chair?

Where is the customer experience in this scenario?



His response was so good, I’ve just had to build a blog around it …

To: Mike, chief Tester
From: Patrick, chief BA
Subject:  RE: Electric chair requirements

The end-product is a chair that is capable of sending a high enough current discharged through the body of the person in the chair to end their life in (insert parameters here eg. 5 seconds). 

The Customer is the person who is paying for the product, together with all the people who work with them/support them to ensure that the product fulfils it’s set objective (“a chair that kills with electricity”).

The business rules for this product can be that,

  • the power is not to ignite the body
  • that it won’t prolong death
  • that the current won’t blow the fuses

Consult with

  • the Business owner,
  • the chair manufacturer,
  • the electrician looking after power supply,
  • procurement,
  • property,
  • medical professionals
to determine best death time within the parameters.

So the deliverable is a chair that kills people, the business owner owns the relationship with the person in the chair, not the BA or the Project!



1 comment:

  1. I love the way he's explained so many business relationships there. He'd make a fine tester!

    On a personal note, I should add that I'm very anti-capital punishment. This for me is a very tester thing - the justice system of any country is so full of errors, that the taking of life (a potential mistake which can't be reversed) cannot be justified.

    That said, I do believe that "life imprisonment" generally should mean just that. [There's my politics out of the way]