you will need to gather information from other people while you are writing. And any effort that increases communication between members of a test team or between the test and development teams is a worthwhile effort.
Writing can even help improve the way you communicate with others. Writing often must be tailored to a specific audience. In my case, I use a different writing style when I'm communicating with management, with fellow testers, and with software engineers. By practicing my skills at writing for different audiences, I'm also developing my ability to communicate orally with those different audiences.
Finally, being an effective writer can open a number of doors for career development. You could write a white paper for one of your company's products, prepare a speech for a local special interest group, create a presentation to share with other members of your team, or even present your experiences at a national professional conference. In any case, your ability to write well will provide new opportunities for you, both individually and within your company.
Benefits of Written Artifacts
While the process of writing can be helpful to your testing efforts, the results of those efforts provide unique benefits of their own. Again, not all test groups produce the same types of documents, and the terms "test plan" and "test case" mean vastly different things to different people. In any case, any written documents you produce as part of your test efforts will provide some, if not all, of the following benefits.
Documents serve as useful artifacts that can be shared with other departments within your company, with regulatory agencies, with test partners, and with any other interested parties. If written well, your documents will provide these third parties with the information they need. That way, you can spend your time testing rather than answering questions about poorly written documents. You also establish yourself as a reliable source of information, which will be good for your career. If, however, your writing is sloppy or incomplete, chances are you'll spend more time clarifying what you "meant to say" than you did writing in the first place. You will be perceived as disorganized or as a muddled thinker, which will not be good for your career.
At times, testers prepare documents in order to actively solicit questions and comments. Another benefit of a well-written document is that it can be distributed long before other people's responses are needed. That way, your audience has sufficient time to review your work, come up with their own list of items for clarification, and present their questions to you in a helpful fashion. Without a written document to distribute in advance, the responses from your audience will be "on the spot" and may not be as comprehensive as you would prefer.
The writings of one test team member can also serve as models or guides for others. Chances are that not every member on the test team will have the same level of skill or comfort with writing. In those cases, the well-written works of some members make good examples for the rest of the group to study when developing their own writing skills. While templates carry potential problems of their own (see the Pitfalls section below), when used appropriately as a guide they are an excellent way to help others improve skills by example.
Your writing can also benefit the entire test team by providing a single, professional "look and feel" for the group. By using the same well-prepared document outlines or "shells," each member of the test team can write in his or her own