Another of Robert Sabourin’s STPCon sessions I attended was “Deciding What Not to Test”.
Robert did not give me the magic, simple answer, I was hoping for. His main point was, it’s better to not test certain things because you decided not to, rather than because you ran out of time.
I agree but I’m not convinced this is practical. In order to decide what not to test, one must spend time determining lots of extra tests that will be thrown out. I don’t like that. If there are an infinite number of tests to execute, when do I stop coming up with them? Instead, I prefer to come up with them as I test within my given testing time. My stopping point then becomes the clock. I would like to think, as a good tester, I will come up with the best tests first. Get it?
Maybe “which tests should I NOT execute?” is the wrong question. Maybe the better question is “which tests should I execute now?”.
At any rate, it is feasible that a tester often finds themselves in a situation where they have too many tests to execute in the available time, er…time they are willing to work. When this situation arises, Robert suggests a few questions to help prioritize:
1.) What is the risk of failure?
2.) What is the consequence of failure?
3.) What is the value of success?
Here are my interpretations of Robert’s three questions:
1.) A tester can answer this. Does this dev usually create bugs with similar features? How complex is this feature? How detailed were the specs or how likely is it that the correct info was communicated to the dev?
2.) It should be answered from the stakeholder’s perspective. Although, a good tester can answer it as well. It all comes down to this question: will the company lose money?
3.) This one should also be answered from the stakeholder’s perspective. If this test passes, who cares? Will someone be relieved that the test passed?
So if you answer “high” to any of Robert’s three questions, I would say you had better execute the test.
Do you have any better advice on knowing what not to test? If so, please share!
Labels: writing tests