Identifying Hidden Assumptions in Requirements

Identifying Hidden Assumptions

from “Testing Extreme Programming” (Lisa Crispin)

Introduce SBTM with the Pomodoro Technique?

I recently organized a book-circle at the client I’m at, where we read “Pomodoro Technique Illustrated” by Staffan Nöteberg. It basically teaches you simple time management technique that helps you stay focused and productive.

I have summarised the basic principles the mindmap below, but I would recommend to read the book in its entirety to get the whole picture. At 127 pages with loads of pictures it is a quick and easy read. It is also well suited for a book-circle since each chapter ends with review questions.

What quickly became obvious to me being a software tester is how similar the approach is to Session-Based Test Management (SBTM). This book is not only useful for improving personal efficiency but I also think it could be excellent in building the case for SBTM and by doing that making SBTM easier to introduce and implement. (I have described SBTM in a previous post).



To improve the communication and knowledge transfers between the test center and the sprint teams as well as the overall quality, in my current project, there is currently an effort to promote pair-testing.

Here follows a short description that I written to outline the use and benefits of pair-testing

– Two testers (or more) test together on one machine. “The Driver” controls the keyboard and the mouse. “The Passenger” analyzes and comments on the testing

– Excellent for coaching and mentoring
– Knowledge transfer
– Often a very productive and creative way of testing

– A tester pair with another: tester, developer, business analyst or customer
– One person might pair with several persons over a day
– Switch between being “the Driver” and “the Passenger”
– Define a “test-mission” that focuses and delimits the test to avoid an ad-hoc approach
– Time-box each test-session

Prepare PT-Session
Create a “test-mission” by defining focus, scope and delimitations of the test
Decide on session length. A test-session could be 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the scope. Plan also for breaks
A tip could be to plan the meeting in for example Outlook

Execute PT-Session
During the session the pair tests according to the focus, scope and delimitations of the tests described in the Test-mission
One team member (the Driver) should be in control of the keyboard and mouse
The second team member thinks out-loud, asks questions, takes notes and gets the coffee

Death By PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a popular and widely used presentation tool that offers a lot of flexibility and configuration options. It might be the standard of presentation tools, but it is still up to you to put together a presentation and present it.

A while back I attended David Phillips excellent presentation ”How To Avoid Death By PowerPoint” where he went through tips and techniques on how to design and deliver a presentation. Here is a brief summary of what he said:

You can read more about David Phillips and his work on:
(Thank you Tommy for letting me use your notes)


UPDATED: Simple Excel Dashboard to Monitor Test Progress

A while ago I posted an Excel-sheet that I have been using to manage the test case execution. I have recently done some updates that I like to share:

  • Tab ‘EXECUTION’: It is now possible to also enter Defects: BugId/TestRef; Status; Priority; Open Date; Close Date; Description/Comments
  • Tab ‘STATISTICS: The Stats on Defects are displayed in 5 graphs: Recent Defects; Defect/Status; Defects/Priority; Time to Close Defects; Invalid/Rejected
  • Tab ‘STATISTICS’: You can define Thresholds for the Test Progress trend. Based on the thresholds a Green, Amber or Red symbol is displayed to indicate “Overall Test Progress
  • Tab ‘RESOURCES’: I’ve added a tab where you can enter some parameters to make a basic test resource estimation

Refer to the old sheet for a more detailed description. You may download a copy here: TestProgressManager In return, please drop me comment and tell me how you like it it and if there are anything that could be improved.

The Excel sheet has been created in MS Office 2010. Earlier versions may not support all formulas and graphs.

MindMap: WHAT is SBTM and HOW is it applied?

In the mindmap SBTM-What?, I’ve tried to give a basic overview of what Session-Based Test Management
is. The main nodes of the mindmap are:

  • What is SBTM
  • When is it used
  • How it is performed (see SBTM-How!)
  • Metrics used
  • Tools used
  • Challenges in SBTM
  • and a Glossary

…in the second mindmap SBTM-How!  I’ve described how I approach SBTM through the following steps: Prepare, Plan, Execute, Report, Follow-up



(Last updated: 2012-11-07)

Quick-Wins in an organization new to Agile

The following “quick-wins” offers some relatively easy-to-implement initiatives that could help an organization with the transition from a Waterfall way of working and drive it towards a more Agile approach.

Physical proximity: Communication is the very foundation in Agile! To facilitate constant interaction, it is a necessity that the team sits in the same room.

Definition of Done: Clearly defined guidelines that indicate when a feature is consider being ready for release. Here is a list of what i consider to be a basic “Definition of Done”.

Unit Tests: Unit tests are a very important part of the test harness and are key to agile development. The unit test coverage should be measured and ideally cover 85% or more of the code. The tests should be peer-reviewed before considered done and QA should also (ideally) provide feedback.

Automation: Automation can be an effective and time saving way of executing tedious regression test cases. However, it is important to set the scope right. Advanced test cases are generally too complex to automate and too time consuming to maintain. Rather create a simple smoke test suite that easily can be automated and maintained. The higher complexity, the more maintenance is required which might lead to poor ROI. Keep it simple!

Agile Testing: Scripted testing alone is often too time consuming and ineffective in an agile environment. Set up a pilot project to introduce and investigate Exploratory Testing/Session-Based Testing.

Continuous Learning: In order to improve test competence and encourage a culture of continuous learning; start a test related book circle; send out weekly links to interesting test topics followed up by discussions; implement test retrospectives; start a weekly team meeting that focuses on sharing skills.

Early QA involvement: Testers should take an active part already when new features are being discussed in the sprint pre-planning meetings and provide feedback from a testing perspective as well as starting to work on test scenarios.

Risk-Based Testing: Risk-Based Testing provides an effective way to decide what to test, how much, and in what order. All test should be prioritized based on how likely the feature under test is to fail and what impact failure would have on the end-user.

Pair Testing: A very helpful technique for troubleshooting and a great coaching tool.

Workshops: To foster the notion that quality is the whole team’s responsibility (not only the testers), setup workshops where the whole team (developers, requirement specialist, testers) discuss quality and how to improve it.

Visibility: Make the test work visible. Let people know what is being done to improve testing. Display quality metrics and progress in a public location.

Mnemonic for the key points: Valued Warp (Visibility, Agile, Learning, Unit, Early, Definition, Workshop, Automation, Risk, Pair)


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