F11-Pre-2: Test Strategy: The Design Behind the Plan

Track: Pre-Conference Workshops

A test strategy is the set of big-picture ideas embodying the overarching direction or design of a test effort. It’s the significant values that will inspire, influence and ultimately drive your testing, and the overall decisions you have made about ways and means of delivering on those values. It’s the design behind the plan.

But in the standardized test strategy documents, we’re all familiar with, the actual strategy is often missing or buried in tedious and repetitious boilerplate that’s copied and pasted across multiple projects. Instead of an overarching design for a test, we get pages and pages of textbook definitions, generic risks and detailed information that the tester then has to repeat in a test plan—sometimes for the second time, because it’s already in a master test plan.

In this hands-on workshop we’re going to ignore the standard big document and focus on the important aspects of a test strategy such as strategic thinking and communicating the strategy effectively.

Working together on real testing problems, we’ll explore what’s essential in a strategy and how to develop it. Who are your stakeholders? What does product quality mean to them in practical terms? How do they characterize the value they expect to get from the product? Not all stakeholders are equal—in most organizations, the concerns of some are more important than those of others. Organizations and individuals differ in their appetite for risk and their perception of what constitutes risk. There may also be overarching facts, principles, and beliefs that will drive test priorities or severely constrain the test. These are critical considerations in determining what your test will cover and how.

Throughout the day, we’ll also practice using simple, flexible media for working through our ideas and communicating clearly to project stakeholders.

Participants are welcome to bring their own testing problems to the class.

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Session Speaker:

Fiona CharlesFiona Charles – Principal Consultant, Quality Intelligence Inc.
Fiona Charles teaches organizations to match their software testing to their business risks and opportunities. With 30+ years experience in software development, she has managed testing and consulted on testing on many challenging projects for clients in retail, banking, financial services, health care, telecommunications and emergency services.

Throughout her career Fiona has advocated, designed, implemented, and taught pragmatic and humane practices to deliver software worth having—in even the most difficult project circumstances. Her articles on testing and test management appear frequently and she speaks and conducts experiential workshops regularly at conferences.