Artifact: Test-Ideas List
This artifact enumerates ideas, often partially formed, that identify potentially useful tests to conduct.
Domains: Test
Work Product Kinds: Concept
  • To help reason about tests and testing early in the project.
Main Description

The Test-Ideas List provides a layer of abstraction between the conceptual Test Plan and the more detailed Test Case or the concrete Test Script. It is used to capture initial ideas for potential tests-often ill-formed or partial ideas-so that the tests can be reasoned about. This work product is particularly useful earlier in the development cycle or when supporting project work products are unavailable or incomplete.

Brief Outline

Each Test-Ideas List should be identified by considering as many different perspectives as possible, including many of the following:

  • Have all relevant test-idea catalogs been reviewed?
  • Are there any quality risks not represented on the list?
  • Are there any relevant fault models not represented on the list?
  • Have you considered the use of all possible attacks?
  • Have you considered one or more relevant soap operas?
  • Are there any other ideas that strike you as worth considering?
  • What is the relative importance of each idea in the list?

One you have an initial list of ideas, consider whether there any related ideas on the list that could be combined or consolidated. As a general heuristic, most lists should contain seven entries, plus or minus two. For more detail on the contents of a Test-Ideas List, see the guidelines listed under the More Information section of the header table.

Representation Options

In certain domains and testing cultures, Test Ideas are either not recognized, or are considered informal work products. As such, both the contents and format of Test-Ideas List may require modification to meet the needs of each specific organization and project.

When they are recorded (either formally or informally), two main styles are commonly used:

  • The first is a standard text document structure using a format similar to that outlined above. Usually multiple Test Ideas are to be presented together, whereas a single Test Idea by itself is usually not considered to represent a sufficient list.
  • The second uses some form of table or database. Test Ideas are specified, one per row with columns provided to facilitate sorting and filtering by different criteria. Test matrices or cause and effect tables can be considered alternative forms of Test-Ideas List.

Some consideration should also be given to ongoing measurement of the Test Ideas for progress, effectiveness, change management and so forth. Consider using specification-based test coverage, in which each Test Idea or Test-Ideas List traces back to at least one specification entry to be tested. For example, trace to the requirements specification elements to be tested which will typically reflect some subset of the total product requirements (see Technique: Key Measures of Testing).

Optionally the Test-Ideas can be retained as part of a Test Case or Test Script. The list may also be referenced from-or in smaller test efforts, included within-the Test Plan.

More Information