"Test Strategy" discussion for non-testers

I’m planning a workshop with my team where we will start articulating our test strategy, and I’m interested if anybody here has ideas on good questions or activities that will help spark a discussion about how we want to test among a group of non-testers.

For some context: I’m the only specifically “QA” person on a team of 7. While they all have some concept of what unit tests are and have been writing them for a while, I wouldn’t expect in-depth knowledge of any other QA/testing concepts. Nonetheless, eventually I want to get the team to a point where we’re all responsible for running whatever tests we decide are necessary and signing off that new code is good to deploy.

There’s very little in the way of mandated requirements from the department as a whole, and even though we’ve been asked to write a Test Strategy document, it’s completely up to us what we put into it. I want to use it as an opportunity to get people thinking about testing, articulate what our goals are for testing so I know I’m working on building what the team actually wants, and get some buy-in on the testing we’re doing so that nobody feels like it’s just an extra step they have to do before I approve something to push.

I’ve already read through the thread Test Strategy Documentation in an Agile world about test strategies in Agile, but whereas that’s about what the use of such a document might be, my question is more about how to get a group of non-testers talking about what they want from such a document.

So to summarize:

  • what kind of questions would you ask a group of non-testers to get them talking about what they think a test strategy should be?
  • what sort of background information on testing or strategy would you want to make sure they had to provide a common starting point?
  • what have your experiences been in getting non-testers to talk about testing?

I’ll happily share my experiences with how it goes afterwards!

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Have you see Katrina Clokie’s Testing for Non-Testers Pathway? It has a lot of great resources for helping explain testing to people in other roles. I’d also recommend her post about a risk workshop she ran, which I think is a great way to kick off a test strategy discussion. First identify the risks, then brainstorm ways to mitigate them.

I’m luckily in a team where everyone shows an interest in learning something about each other’s roles and specializations. We do a lot of mob programming and mob testing, so I didn’t have to do much to get them interested.

When we work through test strategies together, we try to use different heuristics each time to keep things “fresh.” Sometimes we pull cards from a TestSphere deck to help give us inspiration. I try to keep them framing their ideas as questions like “What happens if…?” I think helps keep it feeling open-ended. Another strategy to try is to keep it visual. Use a whiteboard to mindmap out everyone’s ideas, or post its that you can cluster on the board around themes.


Thanks for the reference to Katrina Clokie’s blog, she has some great posts. These two also look quite useful:

I’ll probably adapt one or two of those activities.