Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Let's talk about our software

Problem: People tend to forget that testing starts way before any code is written.

One of the common mistakes is to wait with test until running code is available. Some testers spend their time writing huge test plans, and a million test cases while waiting for some running code to test. Some might even do reviews of specifications, flowdiagrams etc. but still all of these activities require somebody else to deliver some test basics. Do not get me wrong here, cases and reviews are definitely worthy workproducts, but waiting around for someone else to deliver something to test is a waste.

Solution: Informal discussions for clarification, preferably BEFORE work is started.

Grab a cup of coffee, and go talk to people – Your project is full of people who all knows something about the product. I love this exercise, as it allows me to interact with project stakeholders and explore functionality in the making.

In order to have a good discussion there are rules of engagement that I suggest that you have in mind when you start debating ‘the state of the union’ with your peers.

I came across this article while googling for discussion rules:

I really like the tips listed in above article – If applied in a software development context, I bet that you will clear many misunderstandings, and raise general level quality. In my experience, talking about the product happens rarely, as developers and testers tend to rely on what is in the specifications and make assumptions of what is not. These assumptions often materialize as shortcomings later, and cost escalation modelling tells a tale of waste and cost that should must avoided.

Yesterday we made some money on this exercise, and this was how it happened:
One of our developers is currently working on a feature in the current sprint. This feature is relying of data that it compares and uses to generate some reports.

Easy?! Yes, but after a cup of coffee things changed. The new perspective was caused by a discussion on test scenarios that I executed earlier in the test environment. While looking for test data the developer found my scenarios and asked me if I could give some details on the business  behind.

This sparked an interesting discussion on population of data models, the business behind the requirements and the design to be for the new feature. After this discussion, the developer took a new course, incorporating some of the scenarios I brought to the table. I took the conclusions from the discussion and used that for drafting the test charter that will be first hit on the new functionality. Win-win for a cup of coffee and a chat.


Have a nice discussion & Happy testing!



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