Software QA FYI - SQAFYI

Testing with Professional Integrity Editorial Test and QA

By: Mark Tomlinson

Last week I witnessed what can only be described as a completely integrity-challenged moment by a performance consultant I know, who said, in reference to my current customer: "You've done a nice job educating them or should I say, brainwashing them!"

The consultant was cheering on what they thought was an effective strategy, that of persuading the customer into an overly elaborate view about what they need to succeed in order to compete with lesser experienced consultants. In actuality my work had been focused on helping my customer and their other consultants fully understand the value and importance of doing performance testing and engineering in the best possible way.

Later, that same person went on to claim that "there are a lot of stupid people in the world" and that consultants like us need not commit ourselves to excellence in delivery of our consulting services, that lesser quality would suffice. This person was advocating that it might be just fine to waste the customer's time and money by delivering less than what was required by or expected by the customer. And sadly, this far from the first time I have witnessed this kind of unethical approach to consulting.

If you haven't yet read Matt Heusser's excellent posts on integrity in IT (Part 1 and Part 2), I encourage you to do so. He highlights a specific example from New York City (CityTime/TechnoDyne.), an appalling tale of a team who decided to shakedown the city for $700M by taking advantage of the customer's lack of technological acumen.

This is on an entirely different level from the snakeoil-selling forwarned by technology guru Clifford Stoll the CityTime scam went beyond the simple seductions of technology, and right off the deep end into egregious illegality. For a consultant with no ethics, it seems, any rule will get bent just to make few bucks.

So, after considering my interaction with the performance consultant who actively encouraged customer manipulation, and after reading Matt's great posts, and after reflecting on the many ethical lapses I have been witness to while working in this field over the last 20 years, I'd like to put on the table the three key practices in technology consulting which are perfect examples of a lack of professional integrity:

#1 Unscrupulous persuasion. The consultant engages in dishonest tactics to "win the customer" by leaving out important details about their lack of talent, lack of legal licensing, lack of real experience or lack of professional certification. Conversely, embellishing on any of these subjects dishonestly is equally damaging to customers.

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Testing with Professional Integrity Editorial Test and QA