Often we are asked to explain what a tester does and whether someone might be a good fit for the job. It can be challenging to explain to someone without making it sound too simplistic such as a checking job or so difficult that they are intimidated. I would like to address a few questions and challenges I face as a Software Testing Manager. In the prior issues I addressed the following questions:

· October and November 2012: Do you think I could be a tester?
· December 2012: How can I learn to test?
· January 2013: How do I know when to stop testing?
· February 2013: Who do I ask questions?

There are so many important skills a newer tester must have that are not testing skills. It is important to learn positive, negative, boundary and other forms of testing. But just as important is, learning how to manage your time and deadlines. Often newer testers wonder how they can manage so many testing activities while meeting deadlines that most often cannot be changed! During testing we encounter new risks and problems adding more work to a deadline that is not changing. Initially you might be working with a mentor who is monitoring your workload to help manage your time. As testing skills progress, you will need to manage your testing assignments and deadlines. This article provides suggestions on time management. You might need to review any approaches with your team leader or manager to ensure they are appropriate.

Understand Priorities & Risks

When reviewing your testing assignments it is important to understand the priorities and the initial risks associated with them. Start with testing the top priorities and areas that are high-risk. Get any critical bugs back to the development team allowing time to fix and retest them in order to progress testing to a deeper level. This is not to indicate you will not find more critical bugs because deeper testing can uncover additional important bugs. However it is best to identify the obvious and surface level problems early.

As an example, you have 3 months to complete your testing. There is a new data entry screen that is high priority for the customer. A global change is being introduced in the report writer that is considered highrisk by the development team to potentially break other parts of the product. The remaining enhancements supplement existing functionality. They are considered lower in importance from both a business perspective and development standpoint. (There are a lot of ways to approach writing testing ideas, testing strategies, and developing testing matrices. This article is not intended to address those areas.)

From a time management perspective, do not start with the lower priority and risk items. If the code is ready for the data entry screen, start the testing to identify initial bugs; especially bugs that stop testing. Then start testing the report writer since there is a high risk that it might break other parts of the product. Where to start testing, is not always this straight-forward. For example, the bugs associated with the report writer may be more difficult and time consuming to fix than with the data entry screen where the code might be more isolated. Having conversations with the right people is important to help make the best decisions on using your
time. In this scenario, starting with the report writer instead of the data entry screen may be appropriate.
(Refer to my article in Testing Circus February 2013 edition “Who Do I Ask Questions?” for more details on why it is important to build relationships.)

Often a tester will have downtime while the developers are fixing bugs from the more important and riskier areas. This is a good time to start testing the lower risk items. Remember that testing is an iterative approach where you will test a feature for awhile – send bugs back to development – move on to another test assignment – return to the first assignment when the bugs are fixed.

Below is a sample mind map laying out the various testing assignments with their priority and risks. A status node is added allowing a quick review on the progression of testing. Potential options for status are: Not Tested, In Testing, In Development, and Testing Completed. The priority and risk nodes can be further expanded to document the main reason(s) the status was selected. As an example of a high priority: Customer will use the data to make financial decisions that involve millions of dollars. An example of high risk: multiple queries and joins are required to produce expected outcome. Documenting this type of information in the mind map can help when assessing where to allocate testing time.

Testing-Priorities

I created the above mind map using the web-based service Mind Meister. They have a basic free subscription allowing up to 3 free mind maps storing the data in the cloud. If you find mind mapping is beneficial and you have a need to collaborate with other testers, consider purchasing a license for Mind Meister. They provide several options including commercial, iPad, iPhone, and Android versions. Go to the following website for more information:  www.mindmeister.com

Bernice Niel RuhlandArticlesTesting ArticleOften we are asked to explain what a tester does and whether someone might be a good fit for the job. It can be challenging to explain to someone without making it sound too simplistic such as a checking job or so difficult that they are intimidated. I would like to address a few...
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Bernice Niel Ruhland

Bernice Niel Ruhland is a Software Testing Manager with more than 20-years experience in testing strategies and execution, developing testing frameworks, performing data validation, and financial programming. She uses social media to connect with other testers to understand the testing approaches adopted by them to challenge her own testing skills and approaches. When not exploring the testing world, Bernice enjoys cooking and spending time with her husband living a health-conscious lifestyle. The opinions of this article are her own and not reflective of the company she is employed. Apart from other activities she regularly contributes to Testing Circus Magazine.

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