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Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

Vernon Richards | Quality Coach

February 3, 2022

How Do You Make A Test Strategy That's Actually Helpful? Make Sure It Has These 3 Characteristics.

More is more.

Or at least that's what I learned when I first started creating test plans and test strategies. Over the years, though, I got sick of that and cut them down. A lot! Which made them more effective, and after reading the book Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt, now I know why!

It comes down to three things.

The Kernel.

The author describes the 3 elements of a good strategy as:

  1. Diagnosis - Answers the question "What is going on here?".

  2. Guiding Policy - Describes a way to deal with the diagnosed situation without specifying precise details.

  3. Coherent Action - Defines the required steps to execute the guiding policy.

Together they form The Kernel. Each part of the strategy is coherent with the other.

Bad strategy is more than the absence of good strategy.

There are 4 hallmarks of a bad strategy:

  1. Fluff - Think boilerplate and waffle that says a lot but explains nothing.

  2. Failure to face the challenge - If we don't describe the situation we're in, we will struggle to change it.

  3. Mistaking goals for strategies - Stating a desire isn't the same as making a plan to realise them.

  4. Bad strategic objectives - These are goals that miss the main point.

In other words, they contain a lot of hot air and not much substance!

What did my strategy have in common with this? 

My strategies contained the following sections:

  1. Mission - Which itself consisted of 3 questions:

    • What's the problem?

    • How will testing (help) solve that problem?

    • What does this strategy describe or explain?

  2. Strategy - How will we complete the mission?

    • What information are we looking for?

    • How will we get the information?

    • What information aren't we interested in?

  3. Plan - How will we execute the strategy?

    • List what testing activities will occur in which parts of the app.

    • List what tools will be used for what purpose.

It may not be 100% identical, but it's close enough for me!

Less is more!

Please focus on The Kernel, eliminate the waffle, and your strategies will fulfil their purpose; describe a compelling mixture of thought and action.