Thursday, 18 December 2008

Getting from the strategy to the tests

Our test team have had a bit of feedback, which was nice, but it's left me struggling to think of solutions.

The feedback: "I'd like to see how the test team go from the test strategy, to the test cases, and I'd like that process to be more visible to a wider audience".

This sounds like a request for a test design walk-through, which we don't do, and never have. It's usually just in tester's head this part isn't it? We write a strategy which says what we're going to test, how long it'll take, how many testers we need, what environments we'll test on and how much it'll cost and then we get some testers, or scripters, and we write the tests before we get the product and start testing. If we're lucky, a developer might review some of our tests / planned coverage and highlight some inaccuracies but that's usually as good as it get's. And now someone wants us to make that whole thought process more visible; a reasonable request I guess.

Reality is, I haven't a clue how we'd do this and I haven't heard of people doing this elsewhere. Are people familiar with this kind of process? Do people need to do this? If so, how have you done this?

There's no reason why we couldn't write another document which details how we get from the strategy to the tests, maybe discussing risks and types of testing along the way but when we feel we don't get much input in to the strategy it's going to be difficult to think of reasons to justify yet another document...

1 comment:

james said...

I've had to do this once expliclty, and many times in an indirect way for the stakeholders. I once had to put a single screen PowerPoint slide illustrating the process. I didn't think this was a matter of ensuring that the stakeholders understood the process. The purpose was to satisfy them that the testers had a process that we understood and were following, and that the strategy wasn't just shelfware with the testers then gaily winging their way through the test execution.
The other times when I've had to do it in an indirect way it's just been a routine part of the test management job. The Master Test Plan has been used to show how the over-arching installation test strategy and the project test strategy will be applied on this project. I'd expect an MTP to show how the project objectives, the requirements and high level test conditions will be used to derive the detailed test conditions and test cases, and what types of testing will be covered at each stage.
The fact you're being asked suggests an uneasiness on the part of senior management about whether there's a rigorous process. So it's important that you can reassure them that there is traceability through the whole process from strategy and requirements.
If there's not a coherent and rigorous process then maybe you can try and turn it to your advantage and be pro-active. Tell them that the process is too opaque and subjective and that you need the time, resources and commitment to put something more effective in place. Don't give an impression of being defensive or evasive.
Also, be sure you understand clearly what they do want from this and that they're not using "strategy" to mean something different from what you expect. Testers can be very precise in their use of terminology and I've been caught out in the past by users or management who actually meant something different from what I expected.