CD with a compendium of useful information and tools. It has two main sections: a Toolkit containing all the successful templates and sample processes I've developed and refined over the years and my Watchlist, an expanded and synthesized version of all the learnings I've compiled from projects I've worked on.
There are different Toolkit and Watchlist items for delivery and consulting projects. Toolkit contents vary from big things, like my template for a test strategy and high-level plan, to small things, like contact numbers for my favorite contract testers and Web links to useful resources.
Reviewing the handbook CD for this column, I was surprised to see how much is on it. Here's a partial list of items from my Toolkit for software development delivery projects:
- Templates for:
- System risk assessment
- Test data strategy and plans
- Test execution plans
- Test cases of various kinds, including spreadsheets with built-in calculations
- Testing budget, with sample categories
- Testing project plan, with sample activities and tasks
- Testing project risks and issues logs
- Status reports for different purposes
- Phase-end or project wrap-up reports
- Test team action list
- Tester question list to post online
- Samples of:
- GUI checklists
- Spreadsheets for planning and tracking
- Hiring interview questions
- Testing term definitions
- Field customization list for bug tracking systems
- Defect management processes for single-system and multi-system tests
- Planning/strategy considerations for UAT testing
- System risk assessment workshop process
- Phase and project acceptance criteria
- Descriptions of testing roles and responsibilities
Both the Watchlist and Toolkit are continually growing because I almost never do anything exactly the same way twice. After each project, I go through a debriefing exercise, asking myself what I did differently this time around and what I learned. I think about any new templates, spreadsheets, or processes I developed, or substantial alterations I made to existing ones. I reconstruct any I found useful and add them to my Toolkit, often making additional refinements in the process. For the Watchlist, I review the learnings I noted and synthesize the new notes with the existing ones. I ask what worked best on this project and what didn't work at all. What new things did I try, and how successful were they? What mistakes did I make? How could I avoid them in future? When I'm done, I cut a new CD and back it up.
These aren't the only tools that go with me. Because I work on customers' premises and it can be time-consuming to get basic office supplies, I bring my own pens, whiteboard markers, multi-colored highlighters, sticky notes, scissors, glue stick, and stapler. I often take useful and interesting books to keep on my desk and share with my team and others, and I always have a digital camera to capture whiteboard sessions or oddities like cash register screens.
The really essential elements of the Test Manager's Vade Mecum are my notebook, Toolkit, and Watchlist. These give me a head start on every project.