Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's Top N

I don't drive very often - I live and work within the city, and I tend to take the T to work and pretty much everywhere else, too. Consequently, I don't listen to the radio very often. But this weekend I was on a road trip and I had the radio going. I kept hearing the same theme over and over as I flipped around the stations:

"Today's Top 10"
"the Weekly Top 20"
"Top 5 Countdown"

And I remember thinking, "What a good idea!"

After all, the top 10 songs, or top 20 albums, or whatever, are in some ways like the parts of our test plans:
  • some of them are the same over and over again: how many weeks is one song at the top of the charts, or at position two or five? Same thing with areas of code.
  • some of them change each time: eventually a song falls off the list, and eventually we're comfortable enough with an area of our test plan that we move on.
  • they sound a little different every time: maybe this week it's the dance mix and next week it's the acoustic version - same underlying thing, just a bit different.
So why not? Let's embrace the theme!

We happen to be really close to a release. So for this week, we're having the QA Top 4 (there are four of us, so this makes it easy). Every morning, we come in and pick the four areas we're currently least comfortable with, as a group. We all throw ideas around until we agree on the four. Then we go work mostly on those four items - they're the top of our list for the day. The next day, we repeat the procedure. Maybe it's four different items, maybe some of them are the same and some new - doesn't matter, really. But that's the new QA Top 4. So we work those new four for the day.

The idea here is that we get a chance, every day, to re-identify the scariest areas of the code. And then we work on them. If they're still scary, we'll work on them again the next day. If not, we'll work on the new scariest areas.

There are a lot of ways to prioritize things, but having new ways to think about it sparks new ideas. This is just a new (to me, anyway) way to present that old risk evaluation, and hey, it's kind of fun.

(And by the way, you should see the jokes.... "Replication, by the Again Agains" at #1, and "Defect Verification" off the "Oh Boy It Worked!" album at #2. We're pretty easily amused!)

1 comment:

  1. sounds great fun Catherine. Do any of your top 4 get carried over to the next day? and the next and the next...