Generating Test Ideas

Testing is both easy and hard.  When I start testing a new build or feature, I often find 4 or 5 defects very quickly and without much effort (Whether it should happen like this or not is an article for another day).  However, once I have flushed out the easy to find bugs, I tend to get stuck and stop finding bugs, and once I stop finding bugs I get bored and move on.  This isn’t always a bad strategy as boredom can tell you that there isn’t anything interesting to find here, but sometimes others will come and look at something that I’ve tested and quickly find issues that I could have been able to find, or we will mark the story as done and move on, only to find some fundamental issues a few weeks or months later (or course, usually just as we are getting ready to release).  Often this issue will open my mind to whole new avenues of testing and I will end up finding several more issues based on the insights of that issue.

Many times finding defects earlier in the process saves a lot of time¹ and part of the point of testing is to find important defects early in process (at least before the customers find them) so I want to look at ways that I can get the inspiration to think of the product in new ways.  I have been reading through Elisabeth Hendrickson’s book Explore It! and have found some good insights in there that have been helpful.  However, there still is something more that I think I need to do.  

One of the things I have realized is that reporting on the status of a feature or story isn’t just something that is helpful for my manager or for the product owner, but it is something that is helpful for me.By having the structure and discipline of creating a test report, I think of things I might have forgotten (i.e. I am more strict about running through the checklist of things to consider).  As part of a test report I also try to give feedback on areas of risk, which means that the very act of preparing it makes me think about and consider what those areas are and helps to generate ideas for further risk.  It has has also helped me in communication with others as I follow up on information needed to fill out the report.  I continue to tweak the report template to make it present useful and timely information, but I will also be considering tweaks that will help make it a more useful tool for generating good test ideas.  One of the hardest things in testing is establishing a ‘done’ criterion and perhaps a report template is one of the tools that can help with this.

¹ I think

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