Five Techniques for Creating Testable Requirements | TechWell

Five Techniques for Creating Testable Requirements

Documenting user requirements is always a challenging phase in software development, as there are no standard processes or notations. However, communication and facilitation skills can make this activity easier.

Here are five techniques that can be used for converting user stories into testable requirements.

1. Mind maps

Mind mapping is a graphical technique of taking notes and visualizing thoughts using a radiant structure. One of the core values of agile is interaction, so when the team is talking about requirements, using mind maps for documentation can help capture the context of the conversation.

The shapes, colors, and other properties of the map help participants in the conversation remember the situation. A mind map can be a context-embedded memo, just like handwritten story cards.

2. Process workflow

If user stories involve a workflow of some kind, the item can usually be broken into individual steps. By dividing up a large user story, you can improve your understanding of the functionality and your ability to estimate. It will also be easier for a product owner to make decisions about priority.

Some workflow steps may not be important right now and can be moved to future sprints. This will certainly limit the functionality of the application, but it does allow a team to review the completed functionality at the end of the sprint, test it, and use the feedback to make changes.

3. Brainstorming

Brainstorming, one of the most powerful techniques, is a team or individual creative activity to find a solution to a problem. For example, teams can brainstorm about the various options for platforms available to host the application under test.

4. Alternate flows

This technique is useful when there are many flows and it is hard to break down large user stories based on functionality alone. In that case, it helps to ask how a piece of functionality is going to be tested. Which scenarios have to be checked in order to know if the functionality works?

Sometimes, test scenarios are complicated because of the work involved to set up the tests and work through them. If a test scenario is not very common to begin with or does not present a high enough risk, a product owner can decide to skip the functionality for the time being and focus on test scenarios that deliver more value. In other cases, test scenarios can be simplified to cover the most urgent issues.

5. Decision tables

User stories often involve a number of roles that perform parts of certain functionalities. These groups, in turn, operate on certain sets of test data to determine the expected output of a particular functionality. By breaking up that functionality into the roles that have to perform specific requirements, we more clearly understand what functionality is needed and can more accurately estimate the work involved.

The ways in which requirements are captured have a direct bearing on a project’s cost, time, and quality. Implement these five approaches to ensure more effective requirements gathering in your testing.

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