Sunday, August 3, 2008

Request For Knowledge (RFK)

Terms like RFC or CR are well known in the development processes. They often are raised during the testing phase and some new features have to be developed. Most of the time this has its impact on the testing process. It is hard to test them within the same time period of the testing phase.

Mainly these are created based on new knowledge of the capabilities of the technology or system or even process. Prevention of this can be done by performing formal reviews or inspections. The outcome is registered in some way. Though these are not directly linked in testing strategies were additional risk might be involved.

For example: If formal reviews are executed, errors are identified and registered in a review log. The information about how many defects in documentation were found in certain areas are not used as they already solved those issues. So the risk for errors in the system is reduced. Only the change for RFC's is not implicitly reduced.

Perhaps we should introduce the term Request For Knowledge (RFK) and also make a formal process of it.

If I have to think about a definition for this it could be something like this:
A RFK is a formal request for additional information about a system, architecture, process, data or requirement.

The process could be something like this:
1. Create and maintain a RFK backlog; every person of the project can add items to it.
2. Assign a RFK backlog owner;
3. Start monitoring during requirement-specification phase
4. Every RFK should have a status, owner and result
5. For every phase transition, also handover the RFK-backlog.
6. Before the handover, identify the impact of outstanding RFK's on the next phase
7. Take counter actions for that impact.

The reason to do this is creating a process to get more and new information which could help reduce RFC's which have to be delivered tight away during testing phase.
I think when we start monitoring every area / subsystem/ process where questions are raised can give us information where functionality might change.

If in a period of time certain areas keeps requesting for knowledge then the chance is huge that the functionality doesn't meet the actual desired requirements. So the chance is also huge RFC's are introduced on a later stage.
On the other hand, if certain areas don’t have RFK's, perhaps this is a signal that the requirements are also not defined thoroughly.

If you prioritize the areas and combine it with number of RFK's you are able to identify risk areas earlier.

If we assume that based on above table "Process A" had a number of RFK's for "Sub System 2" which was unexpected high. And we see that "Process A" is also used in "Sub System 1". The impact of changes in "Sub System 2" when information is retrieved during testing phase brings high potential risk for "Sub System 1". If we have this information in front of starting testing, the test strategy can be adopted to cover this risk.

These figures can also be used identify business involvement. In projects sometimes certain department give full involvement right from the beginning. Certain departments start involving at the end of the project and the chance of raising RFC's is increased.
These figures can also be used if certain area's have a lot of RFK's, the users are instructed comprehensively by more detailed manuals and training as the chance they miss-use the system is increasing.

Perhaps you, reader, can come up with other usages of the RFK's.

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