Most Startups will not use large amounts of documentation unless it adds value. In an environment where the one thing you can rely on is change, sometimes it doesn’t pay to put too much detail down in formal software test plans. That’s why I am in such a fan of checklists. A software test checklist is like a cheatsheet for testers. It’s a list of reminders to make sure you’ve covered all the basics. Nothing fancy, I prefer a one sheet, but I’ve seen checklists two or three pages long.
Lots of people in software testing loves checklists. It’s our way of ensuring we don’t forget stuff, well at least that’s why I use them. They work really well with Startups who either don’t have the time, need or inclination to load themselves down with lots of methodologies and process.
The first checklist that I am in favour of handing to my Startup clients is the Pre Assignment checklist. My Pre Assignment Software Testing Checklist provides Startups with a list of essential to do items. Most of my Startup work is short assignments between 3 ~ 5 days as time and budget are limited. So, if they can’t supply these things before I start, I politely suggest that they’re wasting my time and their money.
The assumption in this checklist is that I’m software testing on-site and the assignment is a short term one. Otherwise some of this stuff I would be responsible for. For long term assignments part of these may be written into the software testing assignment.
So here it is in its full glory with added explanations for clarity.
Pre Assignment Software Testing Checklist
Software Test Goals
- What do you want to get out of the software test effort?
Confidence, Knowledge? Software that works better? The sheer nature of software testing means that a software tester can provide you lots of interesting information apart from bugs found.
For example, if it’s knowledge, A software tester can collect lots of data on performance and reliability which may be helpful in marketing your product.
- Who is going to see this report?
A good software tester can write the same information differently depending on who is going to read the report. For example, you may want a report written in word format for business purposes. If its a developer, then perhaps they have a favourite defect tracking tool they want to use.
- What sort of reporting do you want?
How often do you want a software tester to update you? Daily, Weekly or just at the end?
- Do you have a long term software testing strategy in mind?
Perhaps you wish to automate your testing in the future, or you want to introduce a process, if you let the software tester know up front, they can perhaps include some structure for you to keep once the software testing is complete.
Software Test environment
- Determine the Software Test Environment
Has a decision been made on the system requirements? Software Testing ought to use this as the default test environment. Make some decisions on the following:
- Operating System
- Any other supporting software
Don’t forget to decide on a version number for the software
- Assign Machine
The developer’s machine won’t do, sorry. You might have a machine in mind, but have:
- Started it up recently?
- Made sure no-one else is using it?
- Does it require updating?
My point is don’t assume that the box you have earmarked is available.
- Setup Software Test Environment
I know it works fine on your machine, but its worth ensuring it installs on the test machine.
- Install all the support software the system needs
- Install the correct version of the support software
- DO NOT install the product to be tested if installation and configuration is to be tested
- Test the Setup
Start up the software that has been installed to make sure it works properly
Finally and maybe most importantly!
Software Test Support
- support by development is available to support the tester
Don’t give the developer a two week holiday for working so hard to complete the software on time. He still needs to support the tester when bugs are found
- IT support is available if necessary
If your luck enough to have an IT team, make them aware of the software testing work that is going on and ensure someone is there to help if necessary
This type of work is often overlooked in the eagerness to get the testing started. If you want you’re software testing to start on time and keeping within budget than completing this software testing checklist is essential.
Here’s a link to a scaled down version. Pre-Assignment Software Testing checklist. Feel free to download it, but please leave the reference to Testing Times in either the header or footer.