Business Process Testing – are you doing it already?

This week I took part in the SIGIST 2008 yearly conference in Tel Aviv. Like many other events, it was a great place to interact with other testers and get new perspectives on old tricks we managed to forget along the way.

One of the sessions I participated in was around Business Process Testing (BPT) by Dakar Shalom. BPT reminds us that at least part of our testing strategy should be based on running End-to-End scenarios taken from real users and the way they interact with the system.

Sounds simple?
The truth is that many (if not most!) testers are not aware of the way their end users work with the product. Things like how they perform the operations, other applications running in parallel with the software, and even the way they install and configure the system is something that can have an adverse effect in the software.

The “pure” BPT approach is based on direct interaction with users in order to learn how they work, subsequently taking these scenarios and adding them to our test cases.

Some Evangelists go as far as recommending a 100% BPT approach (no need for any other testing type); but in my personal experience it is more realistic to blend this approach into our balanced testing strategy, introducing once we start working on Integration Testing and increasing its intensity during User Acceptance Testing.

One of the main practical issues with BPT is how to interact with the customers in order to get their usage information, especially since most testers do not get to meet their users face to face. In these cases there are always second best alternatives like working with your Product Mangers, Professional Services and Sales Teams; these guys are in constant contact with customers and know the ways they use (and abuse!) the system together with their main requirements and complaints.

Many of us already use BPT without realizing it, it is just one of those logical things we do… Nevertheless once we recognize this use and start treating it like a formal methodology it takes a different meaning and provides a more focused type of testing.

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2 Responses to Business Process Testing – are you doing it already?

  1. Anonymous September 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    So does Documenting the use cases and taking those into account also counts as BPT ??
    The BPT inputs generally comes as use cases to the tester.

  2. Joel Montvelisky September 8, 2008 at 7:15 pm #

    The essence of BPT is to document Real User Cases (as use cases if you like), so in principle the answer is yes.

    Still, something I usually don’t like about use cases is their “sterility” and the way they are mostly written as High-Level operations.

    The BPT model says that you should be doing what the user does (the use case), but also in the way that the user does it, and here is where we usually miss the *small things* such as working on multiple task simultaneously, or the specific order in which users work, etc

    As they say “the devil is in the details”…

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