Lessons Learned: Testing Keys from James

The world of testing can be a minefield in regards to how difficult, stressful, and frustrating a project can be. This is due to certain projects having more documentation, organization, and planning than others. With support not only from your colleagues, but from your client, team members, and management, a challenging project can run much smoother. With that in mind, I have put together some lessons learned that I have gained throughout my experience as a tester.

Definition is Key

Definition of the project is an aspect of testing that can make the difference between good and bad testing. Questions should be raised when any information is unclear. Having information defined and confirmed by the client saves a lot of time and effort for testing teams. Areas that require the most defining are the requirements, test scope, and plan. These areas can be affected by ambiguity, unconfirmed information, and missing details. I believe that if something seems confusing or unclear, chances are it is.

In testing, there are no such things as stupid questions, just accurate definitions.

The Key to Perfect Defects

The word ‘perfect’ is thrown around a lot these days, but I believe that giving the right amount of detail and evidence when describing a defect can make it perfect.

Try including these suggestions in your defect:

  • Summary
  • Description (include browser, platform, or other relevant device/system information)
  • Steps to reproducing the defect
  • What you expected to happen
  • What actually happened
  • Screenshot of the defect occurring

Developers will be better able to replicate defects when the proper amount of detail and evidence is provided to them. In turn, this can help reduce the need for questions and turnaround time for a fix to be implemented.

Strategy, The Key to Victory

In essence, planning and strategy go hand-in-hand, but much more so when it comes to testing. Without a test strategy or plan, testers have a difficult time determining what the client wants from the project. It is important for us as testers to plan ahead regarding:

  • Testing Scope
  • Testing Priorities
  • Most Important Areas for Testing
  • Possible Issues for the Future

It is is always beneficial for a team to collaborate when planning these areas. If you have an idea or thought, then don’t be afraid to speak up! You are doing what you do because of your knowledge and experience, so your opinion should be valued.

Exploratory, Key to the Unseen

I believe that exploratory testing can sometimes be seen as one of the most inventive and unusual forms of testing. This is due to the defects and functionality improvements you can come across while executing. It can help you find areas for test that you wouldn’t have initially thought of as well as random defects that wouldn’t usually occur during day-to-day use.

If you ever have an open cycle during testing, I would highly recommend doing some exploratory testing. Not only will it increase your area of coverage, but exploratory testing will also increase the confidence by which you know that the system has been tested. In turn, this can be shown to the client by the defects and functionality improvements you raise.

Confidence, Key to a Tester

All of the topics I’ve brought up require the confidence to approach different people about different aspects of the project. Never be afraid to raise questions and give your opinion on issues, documentation, and defects. This is one aspect that can help you become a great tester. Asking questions and contributing your ideas make you feel that what you have done matters, and you will become a better tester for it.

You may have noticed that each of the areas I covered references a key. This is because I believe that if followed, each of these areas can help towards unlocking your potential to be a great tester. The world of testing is always changing and every day is a new day of learning, so never forget that everyone is learning with you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or give opinions. Not only will you learn, but you may be helping others in the process of becoming the best tester you have the capability to be.

By James McStravick, Test Consultant – Olenick & Associates, Belfast

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