How do you discover the differences in context between clients and projects, and whether those differences matter? While intuition is important, unconscious analysis and choices lead to unconscious assumptions – Fiona Charles
Ask a tester which approach is the best way to test software. The typical response will be “It depends”. But what does it depend on, and why? How will those facors affect testing?
Fiona presented her “What’s Your Context?” workshop to the Auckland WeTest meetup group. We split into 6 groups to brainstorm the elements of context that affect our approach to testing. It’s difficult to report on the value gained from attending a workshop, as the learning comes from being involved in the discussion. Here I’ve recorded my brief notes on the “Aha!” moments described by others at the end of the workshop.
Me: I’ll be doing this exercise regularly for projects I work on. More aware how much context can change during the course of the project.
Natalia: It was very useful to learn about other tester’s contexts.
Pete: Two favourite sayings are ‘It depends’ and ‘Why?’. For example, ‘Why are we doing this?’.
Morris: We say ‘team’ a lot. Testing is a team sport.
Vikas: Highlights the importance of thinking about context deliberately, instead of repeating past processes.
Shaheem: Maintain a risk focus, which things can derail or negatively impact the project.
Chris: The definition of Minimum Viable Product is heavily context-dependent.
Georgia: Focus on the problem being solved. Take history into account. Appreciate the benefit of informal communications (this arose in the context of working with offsite teams).
Vincent: Like the experience of working with his team, learning from their experiences, and the way they grouped elements of context together into personal, product, team and development methodology.
John: So many sources of information beyond just requirements. Stop and consider context first before you get started.
I encourage other testers to take Fiona‘s workshop. Her questions, insights and stories brought the exercise to the next level.
In the meantime consider pairing up with one or more testers and asking yourselves, “Which elements of your context affect your testing? Why, and how? How can you use this information to improve your testing approach for your current project?”