stakeholder axiom

The Good-Enough Axiom: The scope of testing and acceptance are always compromises

Summary

Stakeholders and testers must jointly appreciate that there is no limit to testing and that the acceptance decision will always be made on incomplete evidence. In fact, acceptance may occur in spite of evidence, based on information known only to stakeholders.

Consequence if ignored or violated

Stakeholders are frustrated by poor system quality or late delivery because their expectations are unrealistic. Testers are frustrated because they cannot finish testing, the system is imperfect and stakeholders decide to accept regardless.

Questions

  • How much evidence from testing will be required to make the acceptance decision?
  • Who is authorised to make the acceptance decision?
  • What is the mechanism for assessing the value of evidence gathered during testing?
  • What coverage model(s) can be used to judge that enough evidence has been gathered?
  • What criteria will be used to judge that the system under test is acceptable or unacceptable?

The Scope Management Axiom: If we don’t manage scope, we may never meet stakeholder expectations

Summary

Testers need to identify and agree the items in and out of scope and manage change of scope over time.

Consequence if ignored or violated

Stakeholders assume ‘everything’ will be tested. Tests outcomes of no interest to stakeholders are reported.

Questions

  • How do stakeholders define the scope of the system and what needs testing?
  • What sources of knowledge are available to define and understand scope in detail?
  • What are the (likely) drivers for change?
  • How will testers accommodate changes of scope?
  • How will testers analyse the impact of change of scope?
  • Do testers have the authority to resist or challenge change?
  • How will defect fixes be assured (through re-testing)?
  • How will testers test changes?
  • How will testers communicate the status of changes?

The Value Axiom: The value of evidence is for the stakeholder to decide

Summary

The outcome of a test and the way evidence is presented defines its value, regardless of its source.

Consequence if ignored or violated

The approach to testing is an end in itself. The test evidence generated lacks relevance, is ignored, is misunderstood, is inappropriate and has little value to the people that matter.

Questions

  • What acceptance decisions must stakeholders make?
  • What evidence do stakeholders need to make these decisions with confidence?
  • When can the required evidence be gathered?
  • Who needs to provide subject-matter expertise to inform the testing (and make it valuable)?
  • Who are best placed to perform these tests?
  • Are the people or organisations nominated to perform the tests capable of doing so?
  • What environment and infrastructure is required to make the testing meaningful and valuable?

The Stakeholder Axiom: Testing needs stakeholders

Summary

Identify and engage the people or organisations that will use and benefit from the test evidence we are to provide.

Consequence if ignored or violated

There will be no mandate or any authority for testing. Reports of passes, fails or enquiries have no audience.

Questions

  • Who are they?
  • Whose interests do they represent?
  • What evidence do they want?
  • What do they need it for?
  • When do they want it?
  • In what format?
  • How often?

Stakeholder Axioms

Testing is an information or intelligence-gathering activity performed on behalf of (people we will call) testing stakeholders. The manager who asked you to test could be your most important stakeholder (ask them!) They think testing is important enough to get someone as important as you involved – but might not be able to articulate why they see it as an important role.

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