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Testing?!! We don't need no Stinking TESTING!

December 20, 2010
by Pete Rivera
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When doing an upgrade or new implementation, having a full test plan with QA is necessary

The title of this blog makes a reference to the movie "Blazing Saddles." It's a Wild West comedy. No rules, no Sheriff Badges, just go and plunder. I don't like to plunder into a code migration. Nobody really believes that their programming skills are so bullet proof that they can just plug it into production and it will work right out of the gate. But I keep hearing of analysts and system managers that do just that. They don't have a test environment or they allow vendors to migrate a change to production without fully testing it. They have a naive belief that the vendor has already smoke tested the change so they should know what they are doing.

The reality is that every system is different. You have funky interfaces and extracts that kick off and do their own thing. Vendors have no way of knowing what the client created on their own system. They may have a process that generates a report at One AM, and then feeds the information somewhere else. What is the worst thing that can happen? Maybe a patient gets billed the wrong amount? How about an incorrect code feeds an interface that populates an EHR? Now you have a serious issue.

I have very little tolerance for someone that does not follow best practices when it comes to testing. If you are doing an upgrade or new implementation, then having a full test plan with QA and sign off for each test phase. This is critical to the success, and helps make your go-live become a "non-event." I go one step further and ask for screen shots during testing to:

1) Show results of the test at the time it was tested.

2) Keep the analysts honest that they really did test that feature/function.

I hope your organization has a formal testing and change management structure. If not, then you are gambling in the Wild West.

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