Pragmatic Product Risk Mitigation Process

So your product is mature but your requirements management and testing processes are not. You want to understand where your product is at but where to start?…. No panic, there are a few quick and simple steps that you can follow in order to recover the situation to a point where you understand where your product stands in terms of the value it adds to the market and in terms of its’ quality. Most businesses never do this so by reading this you are winning already!

Phases 1, 2 and 3 of this 5 phase risk mitigation process should take one capable resource between three and five days to execute, regardless of product size (I mean that!), from start to finish. Other resources will be needed for some of this time.

Phase 1 – Write down the important ‘business scenarios’ or ‘journeys’ that your customers take when using your product. Only a one sentence description is allowed per scenario. Brainstorm this with the domain experts in your business. Three to six hours’ effort.

Phase 2 – Identify the various functional areas of your product and then group the business scenarios logically into these functional areas, for e.g. ‘these twenty business scenarios have to do with the administration console’. You should therefore have a functional area assigned to each business scenario. Within each functional area, assign a priority to each of the business scenarios, keep it simple, i.e. one of High, Medium, Low. Three to six hours’ effort.

Phase 3 – Identify one or two of the most comprehensive High priority scenarios within each functional area, the ones that touch on the most aspects of that piece of functionality. These are your smoke tests. The rest of the High priority scenarios when added to the Medium scenarios become your core regression test suite and the rest can be left aside at the moment (Low priority scenarios) until you have the High and Medium priority tests under control. Execute the smoke tests now, i.e. take the journey! Three to six hours’ effort.

Phase 4 – Automate the smoke tests as a priority, then automate the rest of the High and Medium priority scenarios and run them as often as possible (daily is ideal). As these suites grow, this will be impossible but the smoke tests at a minimum must be run daily.

Phase 5 – Easy to get right but seldom achieved; get test reports generated that actually show you what failed and passed in a simple format

and if there are failures, investigate them! Diagram below will help. It’s straightforward if you keep looking at the product from the customer viewpoint throughout all phases.

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