The Most Important Part of a Project
Get testing wrong and you potentially end up wrecking your productivity, your reputation, your legality or possibly all three. People tend to associate testing with IT, but an untested process can have disastrous results if opened up to the public (always formally walk through changed processes before implementing them). Opening an untested road bridge would be unthinkable.
You have to be exceptionally lucky for anything to work well on its first exposure to the real world, so going live without testing is a very risky strategy.
OK, So I need to carry out testing, but what is a Test Strategy?
Just as a design shows how you are going to build the end products of a project, the test strategy shows how you are going to carry out testing. It is the design specification for your testing.
Writing a test strategy makes you to think about how you’re going to test the products produced by your project. This needn’t be a big document, but it does need to show:
- What you’re going to test.
- How you’re going to test it.
- What resources you’re going to need in terms of people, equipment and environments.
- How long you’re planning to take.
So what’s in it?
Your test strategy needs to cover:
- System Testing – testing that what has been built conforms to the requirements.
- Acceptance/User Testing – testing that what has been built works operationally.
- Performance/Stress Testing – testing that what you have built works under load.
- Security Testing – testing, for example, that an IT system cannot be breached or a process isn’t open to internal or telephone fraud.
- Model Office Testing – this simulates the real working environment for your change and is usually only used for big or complex implementations, for example, a call centre set up where systems, telephony and processes are new and staff have had to be recruited and trained.
Having a clear test strategy is particularly important where you are outsourcing work and will need to be agreed with your supplier.
In summary, it’s suicidally reckless to skimp on testing and it’s important to think out how you’re going to test the end products from your project, which is where writing a test strategy comes in.
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Gren Gale is a consultant specialising in Project Management and Procurement and is owner of PM Results