May 05, 2008

Autism's Fit for Software Testing

innovative consultancy in Denmark (Specialisterne: Sense & Details) has staff of 50 or so part-time consultants are considered best-in-class—they are paid industry-competitive wages, and customers include LEGO, Microsoft, and Oracle—75 percent of them live with what others might consider a handicap: they have Asperger syndrome or some form of ASD.

Testing, for its part, calls for a whole different set of skills. Testers must pay strict attention to detail as they scrutinize the functionality of menus, navigation, and applications.

  • Techies tend to be idiosyncratically talented. The case "Specialisterne: Sense & Details" is about putting diverse talent where it will be most effective.
  • Software testing requires superb powers of concentration combined with tolerance (even preference) for routine tasks.
  • Seventy-five percent of the software consultants in the Specialisterne case have Asperger syndrome or some form of autism spectrum disorder.
  • Some software testing may be offshored, but mission-critical testing must be done near the client.

Original article posted by Harward Business School Online

1. Robert D. Austin is an associate professor in the Technology and Operations Management unit at Harvard Business School.

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