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.

You can use the axioms to help you have a rational dialogue with them, to home in on the important issues you need to resolve to enable you to do the right job.

By the way, if you are testing the products of your own efforts, you could be your own stakeholder. Your approach to testing your own products or systems will be focused on what you and others, as stakeholders, want to learn about those products or systems.

Most systems that need testing have stakeholders whose interests do not coincide perfectly. We cannot test everything, so we need to help them to make choices. We need to develop a good relationship with stakeholders to build consensus, buy-in and trust in our test approach. Since most stakeholders are non-technical, the language we use must be simple and direct. The Test Axiom definitions are just that.

Click on the elements in the diagram above or the links below.

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...

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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...

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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?...

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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...

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