What’s in the news today?

In my experience there can often be, especially amongst testers, a desire to hear the bad news, the gossip or the failings. Get to any mainstream Testing conference to hear stories of Testers gleeful at delays, failings and horror stories of late releases; the stereotypes of negative Testers did start somewhere and is very much alive in some industries.

I don’t believe this is a good strategy at all, but I’ll save that rant for another post. A lot of the negativity, delays and grief can often come from the way we report our testing. Often innocent reporting of findings can result in a witch hunt, panic and stress. I’ve seen whole management teams mobilised because of lose comments about quality, especially when a product is nearing it’s release date.

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When we report our test findings we need to be careful not to sensationalise the information, or underplay the importance of the findings.

So in a sense, just because some people crave tales of disaster, rework, bad designs, mistakes and trouble ahead it’s not always constructive to give them this news. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that we don’t give the truth. Not at all. What I am saying is be careful how you deliver this news.

Be careful to keep your information factual. Try not to add a personal or political balance to it (unless you have an agenda) – this is a lot harder than you think.

Becareful of the language used. Emotive words will flavour the meaning.

Think about the information you are providing. Sit and read it and then write down 5 questions you could realistically expect to be asked about this information. Then answer these questions. Add this further information to your reporting. Then try to find 5 more questions. Not only will you prepare yourself for inevitable questions about your reporting, but you will also fine tune your information in the process. It may seem over-kill but I have wasted countless hours in uneccessary meetings because someone over-sensationalised their findings.

Keep the data clean, minimalist, simple and to the point.

Think about what context you find your project in. Is it the last day? Is it the first day? Are you working overtime? Are you under lots of pressure? Is it going well? These factors may make a difference to how your information in interpreted.

Make your information gel nicely with the context. Or make it contradict for a reason.

But always be conscious of the effect your information *could* have. Even stopping to think about what you’re reporting is a very effective filter. And remember:

“What interests the project team, might not be in the interest of the project team”