Seven steps towards professional testing.

It’s usually not until the stuff has hit the fan once when testing becomes an item of interest. Too often the phone rings at our office only after the catastrophe has happened. “We don’t have professional testing. What should we do?” the voice says in the other end of the line.

Necessity is an excellent medicine to finding new solutions.

Because uncertainty so often bothers the builder of professional testing, the first steps remain untaken. The question might have stood out retro after retro, but nobody seems to knows where to start.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

Just to answer this question, I decided to extract a short playbook of testing for those willing to start.

  1. Answer these questions in writing: What is your specific goal in building a routine of testing? For what purpose do you need this?
  2. Tweak the development routine. You will need a steady pace so that something worth testing comes out daily or at least weekly.
  3. Allocate time for testing. Testing is not something that you could do as a side hustle. Someone can always check that everything works as expected, but to reliably find the things where the software still breaks requires focus and intent.
  4. Start testing. If your goal was (written down in step 1) to deliver evidence for contracts, legal requirements or standards, for example, start with test cases. If your goal was to build a brilliant product for your customer, then do exploratory testing.
  5. Continuously improve the methods and tools. I’ve noticed that this tends to be the number 1 on most lists. It’s just human nature to spend time in the hardware store to avoid getting started with the real thing.
  6. Compress time between the development and testing. Testing is not a downstream activity of quality control. The best results emerge when testing works as the co-pilot for the developers.
  7. Revisit steps 1–6 in their order and do it on a regular basis to optimize your testing routine.

These seven steps are an easy recipe for baking professional testing, and you don’t even need to simmer it for months. The most challenging part, though, isn’t finding these steps or any other approach.

The problem is not intellectual by nature. Strategies are out there by the dozens if you only Googled for them. And so are the hardware stores.

The real problem is getting over the emotional threshold of getting started.

Today is as good as any other day to grab the bull by its horns.

Step 1. Now go :)

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