Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review before you execute tests

I have been using English as the official language to communicate for the last 20 years. When I write a paragraph, and if I read the same once again, I see some   issues and I correct those. This happens every time. In simple terms, I can find out at least 2-3 issues in a single page that I write. When I see the text written by others, I do see issues that need correction. This is true whether I write my personal diary or letter or short story or test cases. Every document needs proof reading by the author and by at least one other person. 

When we write test cases, we think and start writing; the speed of thinking varies from speed of typing. The ability to choose the right word at the right place need not be consistent always. When we change one particular sentence    in a paragraph, that tone of that may be slightly different from that of others. Hence our human limitations of expressing what we think, in terms of an understandable text by other people, lead to issues in documents. Hence we must have a review done by other people.

Any document in any phase of SDLC, must go thru review. This is also termed as peer review, as your peers will do the review of the document. Reviews can be formal or informal, but must be effective. Usually the author of the document must coordinate to arrange a review. If you write test cases, check with a few other members in the project, fix up a time (30-60 minutes), fix a meeting room for review. Send the document that needs to be reviewed, to the invitees at least 12 hours before. They get time to glance thru it before they come for review.

Usually a formal review will have one senior person as moderator; usually, the project manager or business analyst or test manager will play that role. The author will give a brief introduction on the document to be reviewed. Let us assume we all review a test case document. Then everyone must start reading thru test cases one by one; take one, read it thoroughly, raise any concerns if it is not clear to you. Many people do not talk much during review even if they see issues in the test cases. This is not right and we are not doing any value add if we do not raise concerns. 

Keep these in mind while reviewing.
  1. Is the test case clear? Is it simple to understand?
  2. Are there any grammar or spelling issues?
  3. Is this test case relevant to a requirement? 
  4. Is this test case similar to another test case or is it a duplicate of another?
  5. Are the sentences written in proper format / tense? (e.g. test steps cannot be in past tense)
If any one raises any concerns, author must note down the test case id, the issue raised, the person who raised the same. If it is a valid concern, then the author has the responsibility to correct the same. Correction may happen at a later time. When one test case is cleared, let all reviewers move to next one and review that, raise any concerns. This process repeats for all test cases. At the end, the author will collate all the review findings/comments into a single sheet and circulate to all. This must be used as a reference for correction.

Sometimes, the concerns raised by a reviewer may end up in a heated argument between the author and the reviewer. At that time, the moderator needs to resolve it with logical explanation by author. If this is not resolved, it may trigger ego clashes among people.

After the review, the author must make all those corrections and send the document to all or selected invitees, to ensure that the corrections are made without any further issues. If the number of issues raised during review go beyond certain limits, the moderator may call for another review session as well. Once the corrections are made, the document will go for further approval by project manager or test manager.

There are different review methods adopted by companies. Some of the common approaches are given below.
  1. Walkthru - this is the formal approach we explained above. This is very effective, needs coordination within project
  2. Inspection - this is usually a review conducted by people from other projects.  This is very effective, needs coordination across projects
  3. Desk checking - this is quick review, by just one person, directly coming to your desk and reviewing the document. This is less effective, but needs less coordination
If an organization has a strong reviewing team, there is no doubt that the organization will be strong in delivering products as well. 

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1 comment:

  1. Well written post. Review is an important activity that should not be ignored for anything - be it test cases, texts or writing emails. An error free post talks better about the personality.