Saturday, November 29, 2008

What questions to ask when starting testing?

This morning I ran into a A New Testing Challenge related to software testing on the weblog from Matt Heusser: Creative Chaos.

In his log he challenge testers to solve a problem related to testing based on types of products and some laws which are existing. Of course this is a nice challenge to work with on a Saturday morning when the kids are asleep. Only one of the best parts of this posting is the comment Michael Bolton gave. Instead of solving the problem he asked if it is allowed to ask some questions.

To me those questions can be used every time before starting testing.

The questions Michael Bolton Asked are:

0) Is it okay if I ask you some questions? Assuming Yes,

1) Do you want a quick, deep, or a practical answer to the question, "How would you test this?"
2) Has anyone else tested this?
3) What's my timeframe?
4) Is it Sunday? When will it next be Sunday?
5) What are, in your estimation, the most serious risks?
6) What resources are available to me?
7) Who else can I talk to about this? Clerks? Customers?
8) If I see violations of laws other than the ones you've set out, are you interested?
9) What are my references for correct prices, categories, sale items, and so on?
10) What do you want my report to look like?

What I liked about these questions is the reflection of test process. With 10 questions Michael Bolton defines the boundaries how much effort and depth should be taken into consideration. Whether there is already experience about the product available. What values the customer based on avoiding certain risks. How the customer expects the tester to act.

In my opinion one of the strengths of these questions is that every answer from the customer can trigger you to ask another question.

I can imagine that based on these 10 questions and some supporting questions you are able to get enough information within a hour.


  1. hi. So, are you going to try to answer the challenge question, or are you waiting for the follow-up where I address Michael? :-)

  2. Hi Matthew, now you are challenging me. :)
    Of course I'm also waiting for the follow-up to Michael. Only the questions he made in your challenge are in my opinion so good and for general use which made me to write something on my blog.
    So let I pick up the challenge.
    with regards,