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Don’t Forget Your Testing

A tester is testing software on a laptop computer.One of the bigger projects I have been involved in was all about testing a new system. This meant testing that the new system worked as it should do and also checking that the data had been migrated over correctly from the old system.

This was a long and very detailed project but what it meant for me in the long term is that I am always keen to get involved in the testing side of things, because I feel comfortable with it. However, I have noticed that some other project managers seem to prefer shying away from their testing work.

Maybe this is because they thing that it is boring but it really isn’t. If you want to make sure that you get your testing done well and enjoy the process then here are a few tips for you.

Get Organized

If you are planning on doing thousands of tests on different processes and systems then you are going to need to get organized first of all, aren’t you? My first step is usually to build a spreadsheet with different tabs on it for the different areas of testing. Even if I don’t know what all the tests are going to be I will still know if part will be on, say, new business processes and others on customer renewals or whatever. As the testing progresses the results go in and they are then automatically collated on the front page of the excel document with percentages for pass and fails worked out. This means that if anyone asks me how the testing is going I can instantly give them all of the facts and figures. I would also suggest thinking about getting your filing system in place early on, so that you can locate the physical test documents whenever you need to. If you don’t then this could be extremely time consuming in the future, as there is sure to be a time when you need to dig out at least one test.

Be Thorough

One of the keys of testing is that you need to be extremely thorough. After all, it doesn’t make sense to claim that the system works until you have tested every single part of it. I guess that this is the bit that some people find boring but I reckon that it is just a question of getting into the right frame of mind. In fact, you could see it as a challenge to thoroughly test everything and be completely confident of giving the go ahead to take the work onto the implementation stage. One further thing you should be aware of is the need to do negative testing as well. This is simply ensuring that the system doesn’t do anything unexpected when the user does something they shouldn’t do, like type a number in a field which should only accept letters. This is a more creative part of the project as you need to come up with ideas of the kind of thing which the end users might do without meaning to.

Get Help

One of the best pieces of advice I can give here is to get as many business end users involved in the testing phase as you can. I always try and few get a people on secondment and it definitely helps.  The first benefit to consider is that having some people in there from the business area helps spread the word about what you are doing. If you don’t have any business experts on your team then you can be sure that word will get back to the end users about how things are going anyway. The thing is, the early phases of testing will probably see a lot of fails. If this information gets back to the team without anything else then they could get very negative about the new system. If you have some business end users working with you then you can expect them to explain the details to their colleagues in a more reassuring way. Apart from this, it is great to have people there who know the processes. In fact, it is probably essential rather than just a nice to have situation. Their expertise and experience will make it easier both to write the tests and then to run them. If you don’t have these people next to you to help out then you could find that you get bogged down in little issues which aren’t really worth the trouble they give you.

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