Thinking about Test Strategy – A mnemonic device

I’ve recently been on the move a little, and have had a lot of chances to work on test strategy. I generally have historical documents to work from, but decided I should try to come up with a mnemonic device to ensure that I have all of the critical conversations that I need.

One of the most influential things for this was the RUP development case that Michael Ruschena presented when I worked with him at ANZ. This documented the team approach we had agreed upon to deliver a solution to the customer’s needs when working on our first agile project. This was one of the first times I was really conscious of “software development as applied problem solving”, prior to encountering Gerry Weinberg’s work. Paul Szymkowiak also commented that my test strategy reproduces a lot of what would be in the RUP vision artefact. I realised that in many cases, that’s true. Before deciding on the testing mission, what I’m frequently trying to facilitate is consensus on the project or business goals.

So that’s how this helps me. I hope it might help you. To that end, I present the first public version of my test strategy mnemonic – “GRATEDD SCRIPTS”.

  • Goals – What are the critical goals of the product? What are the things that absolutely must work?
  • Risks – What things are we hoping to avoid? What bad things might happen? What are we doing to address these?
  • Approach – How are we going to test this? How we will work together? Who will do what?  Accountabilities may also be considered here.
  • Tradeoffs – What tradeoffs we are prepared to make in order to deliver the desired business outcomes?
  • Environments – What environments do we have or need? What testing will we do in those environments?
  • Dependencies – Is anyone ‘outside’ the project depending on us? Are we depending on anyone? Are there external gates or constrained resources?
  • Data – Where will data come from? Are there any special needs?
  • Stakeholders – Who has a stake in the software/product/test effort? What are their goals? Who is accountable for what?  Who needs to be involved in signoffs and reviews?
  • Coverage models – What models will we use to know that we are testing the things we care about? What models will drive test design and test coverage discussions?
  • Resources – Who is available to help with testing? What other resources might we need? What’s the budget?
  • Information needs – What information needs to come out of the testing process? What decisions does it need to support? What are we trying to learn?
  • Prioritisation – What is most important? How will we resolve competing interests, tasks or tests?
  • Tooling – Will any special tools be required? Will support be needed to develop these?
  • Schedule – What are the important dates and timings?Some of the items overlap, but that’s OK for my brain. Different prompts cause me to consider things in a different light.Ben Kelly proposed ‘Budget’ as a separate item. For myself, I cover this in Resources, but if you work in an environment where you are more hands-on with budgets than I typically am, you might find the mnemonic “B-GRADED SCRIPTTS” to help you with a more explicit ‘B for Budget’ reminder.So next time you are thinking about what your test effort should look like, try to work through the above points and see if there is anything you’re missing. Try to come up with your own mnemonic devices too to help you remember things that are important.

5 comments on “Thinking about Test Strategy – A mnemonic device”

  1. Justin Hunter says:

    Jared,

    Nice post. I like both the post and how you think about testing-related issues.

    My favorite post of yours to date is the post you made in response to Fowler’s tweet on manual scripted testing. It is a classic. You did a superb job of clearly stating the tradeoffs involved, included some nice links, and concisely making your points, and clearly stating your intelligent, nuanced position. Awesome. If you were closer, I’d invite you out for a beer to discuss such things.

    Keep up the good work!

    – Justin

  2. John says:

    Good article. I have always used mnemonic devices. I use them for a lot of things. For example, I have used this phrase for the planets since I was a child: My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas. But, some people liked to use “My Very Easy Method Just Shows Us Nine Planets” or “My Very Energetic Mother Jumps Skateboards Under Nana’s Patio” (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto). The problem now is Pluto. It was reclassified as a dwarf planet.

    Best regards,
    John, from The Guy of the Mnemonic Devices, the blog to help people to learn and remember things using mnemonic devices.

  3. Jared says:

    Another really minor one I used is for remembering Tuesday and Wednesday in Korean. I could remember the words for those two days but not the sequence, so I remember ‘Angry Drunk’, where the Korean word for Tuesday is Hwa-yo-il (Hwa can mean anger, or fire) and the word for Wednesday is Su-yo-il (Su reminds me of ‘Sul’, the Korean word for alcohol).

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