The Tester’s Scientific Method

We all remember the scientific method from jr. high science labs.  But as a tester, we still use it every day. The steps may entail different things, but the underlying philosophy remains the same. Testing is an interesting blend between scientific and creative, between destructing and constructing. It requires a flexible yet ordered mind and, as with any scientific approach, it requires curiosity.

1. Ask a Question: The most valuable thing a QA can do is to ask the right questions. Is this feature supposed to work this way? Could this functionality be broken if I do this?  How will this affect existing functionality? What does this mean for the user experience?

2. Do research: Talk to the engineers, look at the documentation, discuss with your fellow testers. Stand up meetings are a great time to hear what developers are up to and to ask any questions you have run into on those features.

3. Construct Hypothesis: Determine how the feature should work and all the ways you need to verify that it passes when it is supposed to pass and fails when it is supposed to fail. Write your automated and manual test cases

4. Test: Run test cases

5. Analyze Results: Evaluate what is failing and why. It is not enough to know that a feature has an issue, you need to know what exactly reproduces it? If you spend a moment looking at it, perhaps you will find related issues or other ways it can be reproduced.

6. Report results:  Carefully fill out your bug report. Stick to a bug filing standard. Spell check. Make sure that anyone could understand your bug and the information you have gathered from it.

7. Be prepared to test again. Bug fixes always bring with them the risk of inserting more bugs. Don’t just verify a bug fix, test the bug fix. It should get the same attention that the original feature did. Be aware that you may have uncovered a cluster of bugs or a series of new bugs that have appeared since the fix, so look at it with fresh eyes.

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One response to this post.

  1. Very nicely done :)!

    It does all seem to come back to the middle school scientific method, doesn’t it? Why then do we tend to do all we can to make things more complicated than they have to be? It seems to me that the word “simple” must drive some organizations crazy (that, and they don’t realize that “simple” is not necessarily synonymous with “easy”).

    –MKL

    Reply

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