Your mission might depend on you industry, company, project, or the personality of the team, Test projects vary greatly from place to place. A challenge for the evolution of testing as a craft has been the difficulty of creating a conversation about test practices that will span the cultural an technical differences among us. Many of these differences amount to different missions of the test team. For instance, in some testing organizations a test plan is just a tool to help testers. It could be written on a napkin and still be effective. Other organizations create test plans as products that must be delivered along with the software. Their test plans have may have to follow strict format and content guidelines.
Any of the following requirement might define your mission. Which ones are expected by you?
1. Find important bugs fast.
2. Provide a general assessment of the quality of the product.
3. Certify that the product meets a particular standard.
4. Help you clients improve product quality and testability.
5. Assure that the test process meets accountability standards.
6. Educate your clients about testing and how to work with testers.
7. Follow a particular set of methods and rules.
8. Help predict and control the cost of support.
9. Help your clients improve their process.
10. Perform your work in a manner that minimizes the cost, time or undesirable side effects.
11. Do whatever is necessary to satisfy particular clients.
If you spend time and effort on requirements that your client don't care about you risk being treated as irrelevant or counterproductive. Negotiate your mission with your manager. Clarify it. If you can't come to agreement on the mission, you won't have a good foundation for anything you do.
What should you do when you don't know what you do? One answer is review your mission. It identify your core problems that you own. When you're clear on your testing mission, you can defend your work and determine specifically what to do next. You can also explain your role to other people, in simple terms. If you can't work towards your mission for some reason, take the matter into management right away.
What you should do when you know exactly what to do? Once in a while, revisit your mission to make sure that your clear plan hasn't focused you so much in one part of the testing problem that you've forgotten about the rest.
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Source: Lessons learned in software testing