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Test multiple stories together to uncover different perspectives

Posted by Matt Archer on April 12, 2013

This post is part of the tips for manual testers working in an agile environment series. A series of posts inspired by the topics covered in the Techniques for Agile Manual Testers course that is currently available to take in London (via the Ministry of Testing) and in Copenhagen (via PrettyGoodTesting).

Efficient agile teams are often compared to a well-managed production line, with new stories flowing quickly from a concept, through development and testing, before being rapidly released so that users can immediately benefit from their introduction.

This type of efficiency gives the team and their clients a competitive advantage over slower agile teams and teams following traditional process models, but it also introduces some potential testing pitfalls.

When we test in a fast paced team, it is easy to become too focused on the individual units of work that progress through our production line (the features / stories), without considering the bigger picture.

To help mitigate this risk, I recommend thinking about each new story from a variety of different perspectives, including how it relates to stories already released. By combining multiple stories together you will typically unearth a more complicated assortment of inputs and interactions that can be the basis for wider-ranging tests.

That said, be careful not to lose focus entirely. It is important to supplement (not replace) our focused tests with tests that are based on a broader viewpoint. I say this because it is typically a variety of tests from many different perspectives that help us minimise effects like inattentional blindness and find the greatest number of bugs.

If you have a comment or question about this particular tip, please do not hesitate to Leave a Reply.  A complete list of tips is listed below.

Why attending the daily stand-up helps agile testers keep in sync with the team

One Response to “Test multiple stories together to uncover different perspectives”

  1. Niranjan said

    Agree with you that in fast paced development cycle, its very easy to lose sight of bigger picture and get sucked into User story level details. In addition to looking at user stories from a system level, we periodically revisit stories in old sprints to see if additional scenarios have crept in.

    –MA: Thank you for your comment. I like your suggestion of periodically revisiting stories from old sprints to see if additional scenarios have crept in. In an ideal world, every change should get its own story, but in practice, stories from previous sprints are occasionally changed on the fly. I once worked with a developer who added a subtle enhancement to a previous story to make it easier for them to do their own testing on a related story (thumbs-up for improved testability and also testing themselves). The snag was that they didn’t tell anybody and also introduced a bug. We discovered this additional scenario in a similar way to you (I imagine), during a periodic manual test session. The interesting thing is that the automated test would have never discovered this bug because when the automated tests for that story were created, the scenario wasn’t there to be checked. Thanks again, Matt.

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