Trick for clarifying a test charter

Sometimes when I ask someone what their test charter is, I get a paragraph in response. That's not bad, but I find that it often leads to a poorly understood scope definition, which leads to lack of focus while testing, which leads to a charter that runs way too long or feels unproductive. I have a trick I use to help simplify the mission of the charter when this happens.

Try using the following template:
"My mission is to test <insert risk here> for <insert coverage here>."

Some examples:

  • My mission is to test for various boundary errors for Microsoft Word's bullets and numbering feature.

  • My mission is to test for accurate error messaging pop-ups for Ford Motor Vehicle's Build and Price website.

  • My mission is to test for SQL injection vulnerabilities for application login and administration screens.

  • etc...

You might then still use the original paragraph to help detail out the charter, but getting a clear and concise mission helps me better estimate how much time I'll need to test, and maintain better focus while testing.