By now, we all know that for a tester, documentation is an integral part of his daily life. There is an overload of testing artifacts that are created, reviewed, approved, used, maintained and distributed. We always have clear cut processes laid out for how to create a document, how to use it, who should it go to, etc.
Through this article, we are going to shed some light into the small but important topic – Reviews.
Reviewing is a form of testing too – the verification part of the V&V, also called static testing.
Types of Reviews:
- Reviewing your own work – Self Checking
- Peer- review
If validation is one half of the testing practices then verification is the other, but often the guidelines are murky – So let’s change that NOW. As it a general practice with the articles at STH, we will begin with the questions, What –Why-How.
What do we review? – Everything created has to be reviewed. The following are some of the common artifacts reviewed:
- Test plan
- Test scenarios
- Test templates
- Test cases
- Test data
Why to review? – For exactly the same reason we test the software, example:
- To uncover errors
- To check for completeness
- To make sure the standards and guidelines are adhered to or not …etc.
How to review? – The following are the list of activities involved:
- Define the criteria – Have a checklist of what to look for?
- Perform the check
- Record your results
- Share, discuss and implement the changes required
- Version control the documents involved
- Sign off and use the doc as intended.
We will now discuss each step in the “How” section – in other words the process to perform it. (Most of us testers don’t like the word process, isn’t it? For us, it either means a lot more work or some high level managerial task that we have to do even if we don’t want to – for the sake of some compliance that we have no idea about. But, trust me, when you come up with a process that works and is simple enough for us to understand why we have to do it, it can be fun! Just play along with me.)
The process for peer reviews and supervisory reviews is the same according to me, because a supervisor is also a peer despite the higher designation.
Step 1: Define the criteria.
a) What are you expecting to find? You can look for things like:
- Spelling mistakes (Sounds too silly? I don’t think so, one time I wrote “Wed Object” instead of “Web Object” in one of my articles – Changes the meaning entirely. Almost makes it too silly to be taken seriously.)
- Format/template compliance
- Functionality coverage and correctness
- Ease of understanding
- Standards followed – naming conventions, consistent numbering …etc.
b) Make a checklist- Checklists are very versatile. It can be as complicated as a review checklist or as simple as a grocery list. All it takes is some time to make it and once you do, it is as simple as checking ON or OFF.
c) How to report the results? – Choose whatever is convenient, preferably a method that can be recorded and tracked.
- Sometimes this can be as simple as adding an extra column in the excel sheet with test cases and writing something in red when it is not what it is supposed to be.
- Can be word of mouth
- A list in an email
Step 2: Perform the check
a) Using the checklist you made earlier, verify the document and provide your feedback.
Step 3: Record your results
a) Again, using the method decided in the step 1, record and report your results.
b) When reporting your comments or suggestions for change, treat it no differently than reporting a defect. Don’t overlook anything. Be detailed.
Step 4: Share, discuss and implement the changes required
a) Nobody likes to be told that their work is incorrect or incomplete. So keep in mind the following guidelines when you are providing negative feedback.
- Provide constructive criticism – Remember not to be critical of the person but point out flaws in his product
- Don’t get competitive – just because he turned in 30 review comments on your test cases, don’t try to beat it.
- Give reasons to back your comments
b) Obtain a sign off.
c) Have the changes made
Step 5: Version control the documents involved
a) Don’t delete the older versions of any of the documents. Name them appropriately and keep them in a centralized project folder. After all, this is the evidence to all our work
Step 6: Sign off and use the doc as intended.
a) Once all the changes are incorporated, version saved, give the review process a sign off and move on to using the document for what it was created for.
b) Another question that comes up is – do we recheck after the changes are made? How many times is this process going to go on – work- review-fix-and then reviewed again? Until when?
No, review does not have to happen over and over again. It is a quality control activity that focuses on verifying if the testing aides are created right or not. As always, zero defect documents are impossible. So a reasonable level of review- one time by a peer is acceptable.
There, you are done. Isn’t this process simple?
Points to remember:
- Every project does not have to follow this formalized method of review, but even if they have an informal method in place, these steps will help set the expectation and guide you along.
- Test documentation time line estimates are typically based on time required for creating and reviewing the documents- so it is inbuilt into it even though we don’t always recognize it.
- Reviewing is not a process that is limited to manual testing teams. Automation teams also perform code walkthroughs, design reviews etc.
Lastly, this is how a typical review comments document for test cases looks like. The comments are in red. Not necessarily real comments, but something to show how it’s done.
Sample Test cases review document: (click to enlarge image)
Over to You:
So, do you still feel that processes are daunting? Do you perform reviews in your projects?
Please share your experiences, challenges, questions and comments below.
About Author: This is a post by Swati Seela – an expert at manual and automation testing with over 9 years of industry experience. She is also an instructor for our Software Testing Training Course.
If you want to learn software testing from the experts, check the schedule for our upcoming batch and more about this course on this page.