Do we really need a script or can we use a checklist?

On a current project, we have a lot of testing that requires deep domain knowledge. Given the level of domain knowledge, we're planning on getting domain experts to do a good portion of the testing. This has uncovered an interesting opportunity for us. To date, most testing done in this organization has been scripted (giant Word documents full of steps and screenshots). In the past I believe this was done because the testers didn't have the requisite domain knowledge to execute the tests without a lot of help. But now, by making this shift, we can reassess if we really need test scripts.

We've decided that for much of the testing, we'll switch to checklists instead of test scripts. While we might still have a couple of test procedure documents which provide high-level outlines for how to do something, the details of the testing will be in some (relatively) simple Excel checklists. This saves us a lot of work, since we don't need to update a bunch of artifacts. I suspect it will also increase our test execution velocity by reducing the overhead of running a series of tests.

Kaner has been talking a lot recently about the value of checklists. If you've not reviewed the work, check it out. Look for opportunities where you might leverage checklists instead of some of the more traditional heavyweight scripts associated with testing in IT corporate environments.