Quality under pressure

A 2 minute read written by Orville February 8, 2013


No matter how much you fight it, how much you campaign against it, for one reason or another you’ll be thrown on a project with little or no time dedicated to testing. It’s inevitable and happens to the very best of us. With the project deadline looming and pressure to deliver, you need to figure out what you need to test, prioritize, and execute quickly. Here are some tips on how to test deliverables in a pinch.

Focus on the most likely user actions

If you are lucky enough to have business requirements then you have a baseline from which you can develop test cases, otherwise focus on creating tests for the most likely user tasks.

For example, for an e-commerce site, users will want to:

  • Add products to the shopping cart
  • Update product quantity
  • Remove product from the shopping cart
  • Review order summary
  • Input shipping address
  • Input billing address
  • Review order confirmation page
  • Receive order confirmation email

Get organized by grouping tasks

By grouping functionality into core areas we make the task of testing more digestible and less daunting. If you have a team of testers, grouping can help you divide up testing tasks.

  1. Shopping cart
    • Adding products to the shopping cart
    • Function to update product quantity
    • Function to remove product from the shopping cart
  2. Checkout
    • Shipping address validation
    • Billing address validation
    • Display order summary
  3. Order Fulfilment
    • Display order confirmation page
    • Send order confirmation email

Prioritize function before style

Focus on making sure your product works! Put styling, cross browser and platform testing and compatibility on the backburner for now and focus on testing the functionality of your product. For now, configure your testing environment to best represent what the user audience is using.

Establish stand-up meetings

Stay on top of action items with daily stand-up meetings (brief 15min at the most) and persistent follow-up on assigned action items. Keeping the entire project team engaged with communications is nothing new but when you are under the gun, it will mean the difference between sinking and swimming.

Stay accountable by logging actions

Refer to an action log for every stand-up meeting to assess task progress and determine what is ready for testing.

An action log can be a spreadsheet with the following columns:

  1. Core Functional Area – term to describe the functional area
  2. Functional Requirement – description of functionality
  3. Action – description of what needs to be done to meet the requirement
  4. % Complete – use percent complete to stay on top of progress (100% means ready for testing)
  5. Status – ready for testing, pass, fail
  6. Assigned to – who this requirement is assigned to
  7. Priority – for now priority is based on technical dependencies

The action log also serves a great foundation for reporting progress to clients.

If you are looking for more insights into web quality assurance, Derek Sisson has some great essays and articles on his website philosophe.com. I echo many of the points Derek has written about in his essay “Testing Without a Formal Test Plan”.