Quoting James Bach: “The more likely the problem is to happen, and the more impact it will have it if happens, the higher the risk associated with that problem”
Or in simply put:
Risk = Impact * Likelihood
If risk-based testing is so simple then how come most projects fail to implement it?
The answer lies in multiple factors but I think that it boils down to lack of discipline and of a good and structured test planning methodology.
Whatever your reasons (excuses) there are 3 things you can do that will increase your project execution efficiency.
1. Perform a Risk Analysis
In many places the most important thing missing is the activity of sitting down and analyzing your project and product risks. Remember that these risks change for each project, so even if you can use a previous analysis as a starting point you cannot use it as your guideline.
Remember to look at all your risk factors (e.g. Functional, Technological, Environmental, etc) and to include in your process stakeholders from other groups (Dev, PM, Support, etc) to provide inputs based on their knowledge and experience.
2. Use risk-based inputs as part of your scheduling criteria
You schedule your tests based on many factors, but remember to use your risk analysis as one of these factors.
You can additionally use your risk analysis in order to negotiate with Development the internal release schedule by which they will provide their features to the testing team. This is specially effective if you had a representative from Development Team when you executed your analysis.
3. Assign a risk based priority index to your test
Projects are always late and you will always be asked to cut down from your original schedule. If you assign each one of your test a risk index you will be able to:
(a) Know where to cut faster.
(b) Show the rest of your stakeholders where you need to stop cutting and where the schedule needs to be prolonged due to risk concerns.
It is important to remember that your understanding of the Product and Project Risks will change as your work progresses. You need to review your risk assessment multiple times during project and to update your working assumptions accordingly.
Risk-based testing is an ongoing process, it is also only a tool to help you focus your work and make the most intelligent decisions throughout the project. Like all other tools, it can do the job right or wrong, it will mostly depend on the person who uses it wisely.
You are welcomed to watch my Webinar about Testing Risk Management.
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