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Tutorial 4: Driving Software Process Improvement Through System Testing


Target Audience:
System Testers/Managers, Developers/Managers, Project Managers, Quality Assurance practitioners at all levels

Level: Intermediate/advanced

What will you learn :

  • Six specific ways that a system test leader can drive Software Process Improvement as part of pursuing system testing success on their project.
  • How system leaders can apply “Role Awareness Seminars” on their project for identifying and breaking down specific obstacles for achieving front loaded quality
  • What measurements are needed to achieve success in system testing and how these measurements can be used on your project to improve quality and productivity

To achieve success in system testing, technical excellence is necessary but it's not sufficient. Equally important are skills to influence project team behavior to prevent defects from reaching system test in the first place. Participants will learn leadership techniques that can increase productivity, improve software quality, and reduce costs This includes participating in a Role Awareness seminar that can help identify and break down barriers and impediments to software quality on your project. Participants will also learn how system test teams can use measurements to help project team members-both testers and developers-get better at their jobs.


  • Participating in a Role Awareness Seminar as a trial run for presenting such a seminar at participants’ home companies.
    • These seminars clarify expectations between developers and system testers in a manner that helps to solidify the “contract” between the two teams.

    • They include a proven technique for identifying barriers to software quality on your project that can help you launch a variety of Software Process Improvement initiatives on your project.

    • Not only will participants get a chance to experience a Role Awareness Seminar but it will prepare System Test and QA leaders to conduct such seminars with developers and project managers when they return to their home companies.

  • Detailed examination of the data collection that should take place in system testing and the application of this data, The tutorial will examine the types of data that should be collected throughout the entire Software Development Life Cycle in order to:

    • size the system testing job

    • monitor the delivery of software from development

    • track progress in testing

    • gain insight into how the project team members can get better at their jobs

  • Participants will get an in-depth understanding of a technique called Accountability Studies that will help system testers continue to get better at their jobs by studying the problems they missed.  This technique also has the proven benefit of increasing accountability throughout the project team and fostering a open environment for discussing not only why problems were missed by system testers but how the problems  got in there in the first place and why they weren’t found early in the Software Development Life Cycle.


Nathan Petschenik
,  Chief Consultant
STS Consulting 

Nathan's current role in STS is to work personally with clients who want to increase productivity and improve quality through System Testing leadership. His book "System Testing with an Attitude" was published by Dorset House in 2005. Prior to STS, he held senior positions in Bell Labs, Bellcore and Telcordia including national and international consulting assignments. Nathan holds an MS from Stevens Institute of Technology and has been certified as a Function Point Specialist.