Analysts writing testing specifications

I recently asked the following question of fellow members of the International Institute of Business Analysis:“Should the analysts who produce the requirements specifications also write the testing specifications?”

By “testing” here I mean system testing and user acceptance testing. My own opinion is that ideally they should not. My reasoning is that the person who documented the requirements can unconsciously make certain assumptions when writing tests, which can lead to gaps in the testing effort. I feel the requirements author best serves the testing effort by reviewing the testing specifications for compliance with the requirements.

Having said that, if I were contracted by a business and they insisted that writing tests was one of my duties, then I would do it, but I would explain my reservations.

Similarly, if I were managing a development team, I would have them write and execute function tests for each other’s functional areas. I was a developer on a team once where the team manager had us write and execute our own function tests. One of the developers left out a whole functional area. Of course, it was assumed the function worked and it went to system test and wasted a lot of time for several people. When I later managed a development team myself, I learned from that mistake.

Anyway, here are some of the replies from my colleagues at the IIBA based on their experiences.

Jonathan ‘Kupe’ Kupersmith (B2T Training):
“It depends on what you mean by testing specifications. The BA should be communicating testable requirements and acception criteria. With the actual test scripts I like the separation of duties. In the end a better solution is delivered.”

Adam Feldman (Bright Green Projects):
“There are many different sorts of Test Scripts on a project due to the different phases of testing. Unit Test Scripts, System Test Scripts, UAT Scripts, etc. It would not make sense for a BA to write Unit Test scripts and if possible, it is best for “the business” to write UAT scripts to ensure buy-in. I agree with Jonathan that it is best to have professional testers write you scripts, however, it is pretty common for BAs to write System Test scripts. “

Cathy Smith (Lead BA at AMP):
“Ultimately, no. The BA should not write the test scripts however they should review the test scripts. I have found it is always safer to have someone other than the BA who wrote the requirements write the test scripts. This is beneficial for a number of reasons: Identification of potential gaps, permits someone else to interpret the requirements & prevents having a key person risk.”

David Phung (BA at Sony Computer Entertainment):
“The analyst who produced the specifications should always have an involvement in writing the testing specifications. The crucial decision is the level of involvement that could range from acting as a Reviewer to being the Author, and everything else in between.

Factors such as size, complexity, nature and timeframe of the project, to name a few, should all be taken into consideration. I don’t know of a magical formula for this unfortunately. A good PM?”

My thanks to Kupe, Adam, Cathy and David for their thoughts.

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