A great way to generate test ideas, check compliance/claims and to see what systems your users may have previously used is to check out the competition.
Have a look at what your competitor’s products/services offer and bring some of that learning back to your testing.
There are heated discussions in the testing world about whether a tester should “recommend” enhancements or suggestions to the site under test.
My answer is “Yes. Absolutely”.
I think any tester not contributing their knowledge and insight (assuming it’s welcome) to making the product better is missing out on adding great insight.
Testing isn’t about happy path checking, ticking boxes and not stepping off the pre-defined path.
Testing is about adding value, insight, experience and knowledge.
These insights, if they could improve the product, should very much be aired and communicated..
If there is a chance to improve the software, make it more usable, compete in the market place and generally make a more successful product then isn’t that adding value?
Don’t always assume that someone else is checking out the competition or has the customer experience at the front of their mind.
Information you glean from comparing products could generate new test ideas, ways to improve features or ways to make your product stand out from the crowd. It’s therefore a good testing technique to aid you.
Matching competitors on a like for like basis is not always a good business strategy though, sometimes going around/under/over them is better.
However, you could start to glean some interesting use cases from their product information or think of your own product in new ways.
It’s also a good way of understanding more about the domain you are working in.
A quick Internet search should bring you back some of your competitor’s sites where you should be able to read the marketing material, maybe sign up for a free trial and generally get to know a little more about the product/domain.
You may find your product/site listed on ‘alternative’ sites such as www.alternativeto.net.
Sites like this show you alternatives to products so it might be a good way to see what the competition are doing and what people think of their products.
If you want to talk Testing – catch me later this year at EuroSTAR conference.