Thursday, October 7, 2021

The game of right questions

You always say that testing is all about asking questions. 
How do I know if I am asking the right questions?

Many testers have asked me the above question. Recently in my 1-1 coaching too, this question was raised. I thought it is now time for writing the detailed answer. 

Testing is all about asking questions about the product and evaluating the answers to see if there is a problem or not. Testing is also a sampling activity. Due to the limited amount of time, effort, it will be great if the right questions are asked early.  The problem comes when we need to figure out which are the right questions and which are not. It is similar to asking how do I find the critical bugs first compared to the minor ones. The answer to both the questions is similar - CONTEXT.

The more we know about the Context, our questions and our test ideas have a greater chance of being more pointed and useful. Let us work through an example. 

Let us consider two systems at work.

A web application that acts as the dashboard for the temple administration to view the darshan slots and count of devotees. Mobile application for the devotees to book the slots for the darshan. 

Though we can start from anywhere, I would like to focus on the below questions for a start:

Why are we testing? 
Is it a new release or upgrade? 
Based on the answers, your questions should change. 
If it is a new release, more focus is on what the customer has been promised. 
If it is an upgrade, the things that are already released should not break at any cost. 
The focus shifts drastically at just one answer. 

How much time do we have for the release? 
How much time do we have for the testing? 
Is the development complete or still in progress? 

Who are existing customers? 
Who will be our target customers? 
In this case, will the temple board be our first customer or individual temples manage the website on their own? 
Will devotees be only the senior citizens or will the apps be managed by agents who will help the devotees do the slot booking?

Key Features: 
Is there an existing list of features, documented in any form (Design docs, Code, Requirement documents)? 
Can we use the application to learn about the features? 
Are there test ids available?

Then start thinking about the four components of a test

Which platforms will the applications support?
Supported OS Versions? 
Which are supposed to be supported?
How much of load can we expect? 
Which other components are in play?
How are the website and the mobile app connected? 
How frequently or how soon the data is synced?
Any specific time when the load of booking slots will be high?
Are there backup systems?
Where is the data saved? For how long?
How will we know if any of the systems go down? Is the scenario handled?
How is the temple onboarded?
How are the users onboarded?
Which other systems will take the load (SMS, notifications)?

How would one book the slot?
How many slots can be booked in one shot?
How quickly can the slots be booked?
How long is the session active?
Any other modes other than online mode? (SMS?)
What about cancellations?
Is there a hold period?

What happens to the UI before, during, after booking?
What gets printed in the logs?
What gets stored temporarily and permanently in the DB?
Are there other mediums of communication (SMS, Notifications, Emails)
Any download options (thereby invoking other systems and applications) of tickets?
Error messages and information messages throughout the booking process?

What is the oracle here - the requirement document? the product owner? the product? similar products? user expectations?
How do we know that whatever we see on the dashboard is right?
Should we trust the website or app or something else?

Now, which of these questions are important and which of these are not?
We don't know till we ask these and get the answers. 
Good testers will not just go through some list of questions but modify the list on the fly based on the answers to previous questions or information gained midway. 

What do you think? How to win the game of right questions?
The more we know about the application, context, the right questions will appear quickly.

Meanwhile, join me for TestFlix - by registering with your teams.

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