Teaching Test Strategy at GLSEC

I’m teaching a workshop on how to build a test strategy at GLSEC in Michigan. The workshop focuses as much on creative thinking and strategic thinking as drafting a test strategy document.

Over the years, I’ve often focused on deepening and continuing my technology knowledge with less focus on business and strategic thinking. I’m sure this has to do with my background and comfort zone; I’m used to learning new technologies all the time but less used to thinking about business strategy. In recent time, I’m schooling myself in strategy as much as technology. Without a business background, it’s a less familiar learning path. And as a tester (in my experience), I often didn’t have to (or ignored) thinking much about strategy – at least strategy from a team or product point of view. My strategic thinking was more immediately-centered on breaking whatever application I was working with. But from the perspective of leading a team, there is more and other things to think through.

As a test lead, test manager and now as an independent consultant, I’m often more focused on strategy and less frequently working as a test executor. Strategy has become what I’m working on nearly every week if not daily, by either coaching tactical approaches or in writing a test strategy or updating an approach based on new knowledge or a change or fresh obstacle that needs to be addressed.

The writing aspect of crafting a test strategy isn’t a challenge for me. I can write without difficulty (although I have some annoying habits like switching from present to past tense that challenges both my co-writer and different editors). But it is the actual writing that is difficult for some people and I realize this. Write like you’re talking would be my primary advice. Write what you think. And don’t write what you don’t believe you or your team can execute. I think of a test strategy as a statement of work, every aspect of the strategy should be a tangible or should provide insight into the thinking behind the tactical real work to come. Skip the fluff.

One of my teaching objectives is to help people get past the anxiety of writing. Another objective is to show how strategic thinking is reflected in how we execute throughout a project.

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