10 Years of Lousy Test Strategies Rikard Edgren

For the first 10 years of my testing career I wrote lousy test strategies. I believe the actual test strategies, what we tested and how, were adequate, but the way it was communicated, as part of test plans, was not good. As many strategies, they more or less just stated different functionalities, and that they would be tested. They were too easy for stakeholders to skim and say “seems reasonable”, without critical thinking.

My turning point came when I read a strategy of Henrik Emilsson, where he explained investigations about what was important; where he in an easy-to-read manner captured how the important stuff were to be tested. It was written so that stakeholders could review the strategy, and make suggestions about how to improve it. Not only does this produce better strategies; it also anchors the strategy, and makes forthcoming reporting easy, and effective.

I have learned my lesson, and nowadays I dare to tell in which ways we intent to test, I mention names and tools, I expose my interpretation about all quality attributes I think matter. I know I might be wrong, but I want to be corrected as early as possible. I still don’t want to promise how long things will take, but I inform about what I think will take most time, and I don’t hide areas were I see the biggest challenges. I don’t write more text, I just focus on the important stuff; knowing that the conversations around the strategy might matter most.

7 Comments
Orenj August 27th, 2013

I find your post a sign of bravery to speak out about your faults that you made in the past and your stand to correct them now. Only few people can do this act.

Rikard Edgren August 30th, 2013

It actually isn’t very brave, because I know that a huge majority of test strategies suffer from the same problem…

David Högberg September 4th, 2013

I do wish you would tweet Rikard.

But until that happens I will make it my duty to use twitter to link to your blog posts. They deserve lots of readers!

Henrik Emilsson September 6th, 2013

Thanks for kind words!

And in turn, my turning point was in 2007 when I was about to use a 47 pages test strategy template where you could search and replace XXXXX with your actual project/product. It had the following brave statement in the Introduction chapter: “This strategy is generic in nature and should apply to any I.T. project.”.
My response was: “WTF! Enough!!!”
Since then I have never used a template for test strategies (or test plans) and instead aiming for creating grounded, directed, and interesting test strategies that are driven by the context.

Rikard Edgren September 6th, 2013

Thanks David.
If I’d tweet, I wouldn’t have the time to do it good.
And I’d write fewer blog posts, with less value.

Henrik, I understand your feeling, a test plan template must be at least 80 pages to be Worth using ;)

Andreas Kleffel September 15th, 2013

47 pages test strategy template? That is weird. For me one page was always sufficent that could be filled within one hour.

Rikard Edgren September 25th, 2013

If test strategy is easy, my experience is I haven’t thought enough about it, and am re-using old ideas in a new situation.