Thursday, 14 June 2018

Generating Test Ideas

It is interesting to analyze what we subscribe to and are involuntarily subscribing to, especially when we are in the beacon-range with active signals.

In one such encounter, I overheard two people conversing on the pathway. Person A to B says, ‘with an additional 10000 rupees neither are you going to become rich nor I will become poor by lending it to you’.

It dawned on me how false is this analogy to testing, with each and every idea generated while testing how greatly the quality of the product can be improved. The quest for test ideas is unending for anyone who is test-obsessed.

Generation of ideas is limited to the current know-how we have of the domain, technology, hardware supported, implementation technique used. Straightforward testing can be performed with this limited knowledge. To deep dive, a tester needs to expand the know-how and generate more such ideas by integrating different teachings from various schools of testing, refer knowledge work of expert testers and themselves contribute to this body of work. And thus add value to the product being tested.

Idea Generation - Is an intellectual and a fun activity.

  • Idea generation is a brainual activity.
  • It is an individual activity, generate ideas with the knowledge you have thus far gained.
  • It is a group activity, generate ideas as a group learning activity.
  • Not every idea that occurs needs to be tested, but only those that fit the context.
  • Such ideas can be stored away for later and for relevant usage.

How - Idea Generation?

  • Brainstorm with a group of friends during a recess.
  • Start generating ideas to break a set pattern.
  • Throw a dice or two and based on the outcome/the occurring patterns, generate ideas for that topic.
  • Role play to generate new test ideas.
  • Set a limit, and go beyond the set limit.
  • Roll the dice yourself, or throw a dart on the testing dart board.
  • Ask your friend/colleague to throw you a testing challenge.
  • Find a mentor to practice testing exercises with. Gather ideas.

When - Idea Generation?

  • When testing.
  • When not testing.
  • During test preparation phase, testing phase, and afterward.
  • Generate test ideas to test requirements, design, raw data, processed data, data in transit, unit test, integration, system testing and beyond.
  • When in a reflective, analytical or critical mode.
  • When learning to test, and when unlearning.
  • When preparing the test charter.

Where - Idea Generation?

  • At your desk. Invite a friend to carry out this learning activity.
  • At the breakout area. Hang a dart board or place a bowl with different types of testing, test approaches, and techniques to choose from. Pick one as you move around. It serves as a good exercise physically and can help you learn to test too on the go.
  • Before you start the day/ week/month, make a mental note to learn about a certain testing trend and generate ideas using that approach.

Why - Idea Generation?

  • Save a copy of all the ideas generated for self-use or share it with anyone else in the team.
  • Share it with the world of testers - who may have had a formal software testing education or not.
  • Create charters, maps, heuristics, tools to help aid and ease your testing activity.
  • Build your network by learning and sharing with like/unlike minded testers - they all have ideas to contribute to.
  • Give and take credit for the work done. Build your credibility as a tester.

Over-thinking can cause fatigue easily, so it is better to know when to STOP.

  • Slow down - Slow down to distract yourself. To allow new ideas to flow in or to break a set pattern.
  • Take a break - Break when you feel fatigued, it is common that brainual activity can drain you out from having a continuous flow of ideas. Invite other learners to drive the flow of thoughts. Learn with peers or pair up for some time.
  • Output - Analyse the output/outcome thus far, take credit and celebrate not waiting for others to pat your back. Studying the outcome thus far can guide us greatly on how to proceed further. Keep a check on how far you have come since you started.
  • Pull over - Pull over is to makeshift with the current status quo.

STOP and allow yourself to have Eureka moments - Ideas need you.

Not everyone needs an inspiration. Ideas flow to some as the know-how grows and some do need a trigger to act and stop.