WTA10 – Persistence of Time

WTA10 – Persistence of Time

Date: April 23, 2011

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PDT, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EDT

Attendees: Adam Yuret, Akansha Talwar, Albert Gareev, Chris Chartier, Eusebiu Blindu, Gagan Talwar, Gary Masnica, Jayson Massey, Linda Rehme, Meet Prakash, Michael Larsen, Orozco Adrian, Prateek Puri, Shmuel Gershon, Vamshi Krishna

Today we decided to take on a contentious topic: time management. Specifically, time management apps that some companies require their workers use to track productivity. The challenge today was to take a look at Rescue Time, which is an application that allows individuals to install a data collector on their machine, and then report the results up to a web server which aggregates activities and then displays a report of what the users time was spent doing.

We approached this application from two perspectives and we split into two groups for our testing session. One group was called the “Engineers”, and they were tasked with testing the application to see if i would work for their needs. we had a second group that we called the “Managers” and they were tasked with testing the application from the perspective of the management team and what was important to them.

Our goal was to see if we would end up with two significantly different exsperiences and expectations, and the answer is both “yes” and “no”. Yes in the sense that the focus, parameters and the heuristics used to test were different for both groups, and the nature of the problems found were also different for each group. One thing rang perfectly clear, though, and that was the gernal distaste for companies taht would use these types of apps to dictate complience with a time metric. The general consensus was that, those who would use metrics like this as a mathod for boosting productivity would ultimately get two results. The first would be those who would gear themselves to the tool and work to the tool, which may be well below theior potential, and those that would game the tool, so that they looked far more productive than they really were. Interestingly, the idea of using the tool on an individual basis for individual clarification and focus was not seen as negatively.

For the rest of the story, the full chat transcript can be viewed here.

About the Author

I’m a software tester working with Socialtext in Palo Alto, CA. I have worked in a number of different fields and in a number of different capacities. I started my testing career in March of 1991. I am co-founder and primary facilitator for Weekend Testing Americas. I am a black-belt in the Miagi-do School of Software Testing, a member and Teacher in the Association for Software Testing, and the producer of Software Test Professionals' "This Week in Software Testing" podcast (now on hiatus).