Chapter 5. Understanding Risks to System Quality

In this chapter, you’ll survey a rogues’ gallery of undesirable behaviors and outcomes that your system may exhibit. If present, these behaviors and outcomes can negatively affect various stakeholders’ experiences of quality. The list of negatively affected stakeholders can include users, system administrators, customers, project sponsors, people who make decisions about your employment, and society in general. No matter who’s affected, they won’t be happy.

Some people with all sorts of unhealthy habits live to a ripe old age. Some incompetent system engineering teams violate every known best practice yet produce working systems. The undesirable outcomes and behaviors discussed in this section are potential outcomes, not certain results. So, these outcomes are referred to as risks to the quality of the system, or in short, quality risks.

This is a long chapter, so you might want to take a break or two as you work through it. If you’re new to testing, this chapter will provide a foundation and motivation for much of what comes next. Beginning testers are encouraged to follow along with the entire chapter. For those of you who are experienced testers, if you’ve had trouble conveying the importance of testing or the effect of cutting back on test time, you might find some useful material here.

Categories of Quality Risks

Computer software, hardware, and systems can fail in the most amazing and various ways, can’t they? I have seen many different ...

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