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Opportunity Cost Drives My Testing

With a quarter of a century of hands-on testing under my belt, I’ve had opportunities to try consulting and fall in love with product development. I’ve shifted a lot over the years:

  • from teaching test cases to teaching testing without test cases
  • from change control to enabling change but keeping it at bay with continuous releases
  • from test planning meetings to hands-on testing and test automation creation in social frames
  • from focusing on brain-engaged testing to enabling test automation without giving up great testing
  • from identifying as a tester to identifying as a tester and a polyglot programmer.

I have come to appreciate the idea of opportunity cost. Time and effort used on something isn’t just the cost of the time, but the cost of other things we could have done with that time. For great testing bringing value now as well as when we are not around, we need to be great at testing – uncovering relevant information – and programming – building maintainable test systems. At the core of all this is learning.

Opportunity cost has led me to realize that modern testing has moved past the intersection of exploratory testing and test automation, making these a common activity where our skills in good testing and programming limit us while collaboration enables us. It has emphasized that the time we spend speaking against automation and warning managers of its shortcomings is time away from figuring out how some of it can be useful.

We want to make a growing impact with the time we have available to invest. Testing is part of that investment – even if not done by testers but the whole team. With growing our ability and skill in making such an impact, making smart choices on where use of time is most valuable both in the short and long term. Embracing the fact that testing will need nets to effectively catch bugs that have not yet been created, we find intertwining exploring with documenting with automation is a great way forward.

Join me in discussing what testing looks like when opportunity cost drives my testing.

  • Opportunity costs are not reversible.

Speaker Profile

Maaret Pyhäjärvi is a feedback fairy with a day job at Vaisala, where she works as Principal Test Engineer. She identifies as empirical technologist, tester and programmer, catalyst for improvement, author and speaker, and community facilitator and conference organizer. She was awarded as Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person 2016, listed on 100 most influential in ICT in Finland by TiVi 2019, and has spoken at events in 25 countries delivering over 400 sessions. With 25 years of exploratory testing under her belt, she crafts her role into being a mix of leading, hands-on testing and programming. She is a serial volunteer and organizing powerhouse contributing to European Testing Conference and TechVoices, as well as Finnish non-profit scene. She blogs at, and is the author of three LeanPub books: Mob Programming GuidebookExploratory Testing and Strong-Style Pair Programming. Her web page is


Maaret Pyhäjärvi

Principal Test Engineer


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