Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pilots, accept you are selling to the masses

In every project there comes a time the product is ready to be delivered to the users. In the clasic V-model used in Software Development, the final stage is Acceptance Testing. In Infrastructure projects sometimes a Pilot is used.

The Pilot often consists of a department within the organisation that will work with the new product for a certain period. After that an evaluation is held and a go-no go decision is taken.

The use of a Pilot is not restricted to the IT industry. In the Film and Television industry they are also very familiar with this concept. For instance a Television Pilot, often called just a Pilot, is a trial episode made to sell a television series. A Film Pilot is a trial segment used to attract further financing for a film.

So is a Pilot the same as Acceptance Testing? I think there is some Acceptance Testing in a Pilot. The Testing is done by users, and often not by Professional Testers. For most users it is important that they can continue working. Acceptance is not based on written requirements, but on emotion. The user likes the functionality and is pleased with the look & feel. A Professional Tester looks at (Non) Functional Requirements, Design Documents, Quality Attributes and makes sure there are Test Plans and a Defect Administration.

So in my opinion a Pilot and Acceptance Testing are not the same. Just as with a Television Pilot, the idea is to sell the new product to the user. Once they buy it, there is (often) a go, no matter what defects the Professional Tester has found.

Is that a problem?, maybe from a quality standpoint. However what is more important is that the new product is liked and used by the users.A Pilot could therefore be a blessing in disguise.

Just remember, you have not really tested the new product with a Pilot, you sold it.

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