Understanding risk from the perspective of stakeholders

A key part of getting software signed off is having the key stakeholders happy that it does or is what they wanted. So how do you make sure you address this in your testing?

There are a few different approaches that you can take to gain an understanding of the risks from the perspective of a stakeholder, at there core though there are a few skills which you need to use regardless of if you interview, produce an information gathering form, or run a brainstorming session, to name a few ways.

What you are trying to do is gain an understanding of their real needs, and the stakeholders may not understand what these are in the early stages of a project, or at least in any great detail. You need to draw these out of them with the use of open questions that lead them to think about the details that you need to understand. You have to do this without imposing your concerns on the conversation. Yes, it needs to be a conversation, it’s not a question and answer session, you have to build rapport and trust with them so that over time they will volunteer this information to you as they are beginning to trust your judgement and that you will take what they say seriously.

You need to set the initial conversation up wisely. You have to give the stakeholder plenty of warning about what you want to do, and what you want to get out of the conversation so that they can prepare. You’ll also need to prepare, make sure you can provide answers to any questions they are likely to ask that you have accurate information about, however, you have to be able to say, ” I don’t know that yet” or, “let me look into that”. nothing will damage the relationship you are trying to build faster than guessing at answers and getting it wrong.

It’s okay to go off script, when it is done for good reason, to gain greater understanding, try to bring it back on track at the appropriate time, when you have explored the topic you were discussing before you or they have started to ramble or moved too far from what you wished to talk about.

You’ll need to practice active listening, being flexible about your questions and asking questions to draw out more details, these are not easy skills and deserve a post in their own right, so I won’t go into them in detail hear. I’ll just say you need to be paying close attention to what you are being told so that you can ask the right questions, at the right time to draw greater detail out, all while writing down the important pieces of information.

you can also make great use of silent pauses to draw further details from them, people will naturally want to fill gaps in conversation, and you can use them when you think someone is holding back. Just don’t go overboard, it’s not an interrogation. You have to practice the suspension of the ego, as these conversations are not about what you think, they are about what the key stakeholders think. You have to cultivate your curiosity about what other think, this will help you forget about your opinions on the matter as you seek a greater understanding of the thoughts of others.

You have to practice the suspension of the ego, as these conversations are not about what you think, they are about what the key stakeholders think. You have to cultivate your curiosity about what other think, this will help you forget about your opinions on the matter as you seek a greater understanding of the thoughts of others.

And remember this is an ongoing conversation, you should get back in touch with these people on a regular basis, even if it’s just to let them know you are still actively using the information they have provided as a form of measure against the quality of what you are looking at. If you maintain good rapport with them, they will more naturally include you in conversations about what their concerns are, and if you have done it well they may even come straight to you when they have concerns or questions.

 

Let me know your experiences of build an ongoing relationship with key stakeholders, and how you went about it.

 

Doug

 

 

Recruiting a new tester

So it’s back to one of those challenges again, I needed to recruit a tester. They didn’t need to be hugely experienced, or possess any sort of specialisation, so that was a plus at least.

We have an unusual recruitment process at work so that always adds to the challenge of getting the right person. We had the normal run of the mill applications, we spend quite a lot of time looking at people’s covering letters, and seeing what they tell us about the applicants. Quite often a poor covering letter will mean we don’t interview someone, as it doesn’t tell us the person has the qualities and skills that we are looking for in a role.

It might sound harsh, but if your first contact with us, your covering letter, doesn’t sell why you are the best possible person for the job, and this means talking about actual experiences that highlight all those great skills and qualities, not just saying, you’re a team player, tell us why. What experiences show that’s the case. Anyone can write a bunch of buzz words on a letter, you need to support them. Then we may pass you over to interview someone who can tell us why they are such a great catch for us. I love some enthusiasm in a covering letter, but it needs to be directed, know what a company does, find out what you’d be doing, call up, ask, do some research, stand out. If you don’t have work experience that show’s why you are ideal for the job, use personal experience or a time in education when you shined in a club or society.  Yes, those extracurricular things are really handy. You have to looks for ways of show you stand out from the crowd. Expect to get asked about them, if you have done awesome stuff we will want to know more, and we’ll dig deep for things that tell us about who you are as a person.

If you really want a job, show us why, if you are just applying, you may well find you lose out to someone with a passion for the role, they will sell themselves some much better.