Capture the testing workflows

When I start test planning for a large testing project (large to me is defined a couple of ways: length, number of people, or budget), often I'll start like everyone does by creating a test strategy. For me, early on ideas are fuzzy. I'm learning about the project goals. I'm often learning about the company and their business. Or I'm learning their processes, tools, regulations, and people. There's a lot of ambiguity about what we're going to do and how we're going to do it.

One thing I've found that really helps at this stage of the project is to create testing workflows for each type/phase/stage of testing that we'll be doing on the project. When I say workflow, I mean a simple one page flowchart diagram of the activities involved in testing some "thing." From where the requirements are coming from, to how we're capturing tests or test ideas, to how we're executing them and storing results. I'll often put the key decision points in there and show how those affect process flow.

I'll then circulate these workflows among the project team to solicit feedback. You'd be amazed how helpful this is for everyone - not just me. Often, other people in the project don't know exactly what the testing team is doing. They are work from assumptions that have on what you need, when you need it, and what you'll do with it. Detailed workflows like this dispel those assumptions.

Another quick tip: For all those testing project managers out there, workflows like this serve another purpose. Once you have them done, you basically have a work breakdown structure for each type of testing you'll be doing on the project. And it's in a much more accessible format than a mpp file.