Enough with the absolutes

Recently I’ve noticed a lot of  “guarantees” being offered for products, services, and efforts. Each time I see it I want to laugh, shoot it, and ask “What does that mean?” First a definition

Guarantee: an assurance for the fulfillment of a condition

I’ve seen it here:

and here:

My first questions is “How can you do that?”. The answer usually is a sales pitch about a process, or method, or some other double-speak that is meaningless.  I’ve yet to see a process that guarantees an outcome ( unless it was designed to fail ).   There is always something that happens during a project that no one predicted that causes a change in your tactics, product, or outcome and it’s always different that what you started with. How would you know the outcome well enough to guarantee it if you can’t control all the variables? You can try mightily, you can put process after process in place but advance knowledge of an outcome is best left to palm readers and broke vagrants spending their last $5 on the horses in Vegas.

The same is true of saying you want to “Certify” something ( I’m mainly talking about applications here and not testers ). Saying you have a certified application, or certified process means nothing if the certifying organization is crap or uses a standard to apply to you that doesn’t fit.   Imagine that you were going to have a “Quality Audit” that measured your product and organization against “World Class” examples in your industry. Hmm sounds nice right? So you ask the question, “How many other companies in our industry have you looked at?”. The answer is “None, but we will compare you to a comparable sector of the market.”   Feel Better? Not really so you ask a follow up, “How do you gauge the quality of a product or organization?”.  The answer is that they look at requirements and determine if you met them or not. OK so the cynic in me immediately wants to ask if I made a Death Ray that’s only requirement is that it kill’s large numbers of people in a short amount of time to allow me world domination, then can I pass your audit? Can I be certified by your organization? Is your process flexible enough to look at something and say “Maybe this one doesn’t fit”.


I like to create things, work with interesting people, and do all things agile. I have a testing background and really want to make great products that solve problems.

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