A while back on Slashdot there was an unforgettable post on who had the worst working environment starting with aerospace. Those of you who actually are rocket engineers will undoubtedly cringe, but in my simplistic understanding, cleaner aircraft have less frictional drag and better fuel efficiency, so the full time job of cleaning airplanes exists. Paying to eliminate drag as a way to save money seems to be worth it in a lot of different areas. For example, there is enough value in eliminating slow code that it's worth it to use tools like perfmon and the profiler.
Which prompts the question - what kind of drag can we eliminate from software testing?
I've been thinking about this idea on my own but it's not a new one. Searching around I found that Christian Buckley and Darren Pulsipher had already written an introductory article on "The Drag Coefficient of Test-Cycle Reduction" that offers some good suggestions of places to look at to reduce testing drag. I'm sure there are others who have addressed this topic that I haven't discovered yet.
Call me old fashioned but as a full time tester, a big part of really nailing quality on the software projects I've been involved with seems to getting high throughput and large numbers of bugs looked at, evaluated, and fixed. When you're in the zone with those big numbers you really start feeling the nontrivial frictional drag associated with each bug. The drag of people getting emotionally involved on a particular issue, failing to repro the bug, getting swamped in configuration or install issues, taking too long to log bugs, swamped in email threads gone haywire, developers who can't get the bug to repro, burnout, requisitioning a machine, etc. I think a lot of times other people have predictable reactions to the information you provide to them as a tester, so a lot of times you can set up the process in the first place so that they will not react in a way that gets you out of the zone as a tester. Here's a brainstorm of some ideas that come to mind for me, I'm certainly open to any other ideas people might have on this: