Test strategy documents are obsolete?
Is Test Strategy document no longer relevant for testing in the 2020s? No one cares what it says, only that it exists to because some people want it. This violates a principle of the agile manifesto:
Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
Am I going to do meaningless work?
I've been asked to write a test strategy. There's no Azure work item for this. You only get test plans, test cases and test suites. Maybe Microsoft's caught on that this isn't used.
The big advantage that test plan, test suite and test case work items have over test strategy in a word processor or wiki is binding. Azure binds the test work items along the at planning, execution and reporting phase and tied to a specific release.
Whatever test strategy we decided to use is embedded knowledge in the test plan, test suite and test plan concepts. So what's the point of making one of these up (except to cover my ass because some old-school auditors want to work in MS Word?
See here what ISTQB wants to write and let me know if there's a need for a strategy and plan
Test strategy is:
Documentation aligned with the test policy that describes the generic requirements for testing and details how to perform testing within an organization. Synonyms: organizational test strategy
Used in Foundation V3.1 - 2018 syllabus
Test Plan is:
Documentation describing the test objectives to be achieved and the means and the schedule for achieving them, organized to coordinate testing activities.
Used in syllabi for Specialist - Performance Testing - 2018 and Foundation V3.1 - 2018 Reference: After ISO 29119-1
No one cares about these documents.
No release ever got stopped because someone read a test strategy. Am I just covering my ass in case of audit, or to say I told you so? Does anyone else wonder what the point is?
I confused the outcome of making a test strategy with the artifact it produces.
Kaner, Bach and Pettichord say in Lessons Learned in Software Testing, 1st edition lesson 143: Don't use test documentation templates: A template won't help unless you don't need it. If I am a skilled tester, I don't need the document because I already know the strategy.
In lesson 144 they say: Use test documentation templates: They foster consistent communication. At times I will need to work with others - from feeding back to the developers, auditors, other testers and the clients.
How do these answers resolve my confusion in 2020?
While I may believe I know the strategy, there's no way to test (1) whether I really know it and (2) it is valid for the current test cycle. Going through this process validates that the test strategy is sound, or identifies strategic errors. While I may believe others know the strategy, I can't tell if they really do and if it's valid. Making a strategy is a learning exercise.
I only hate creating the document because I've exhausted what I believe I can gain from mature templates at a test strategy level. That's possibly a call for us to revisit test strategy.
Getting another team to provide a test environment takes a lot of time. It's their fault if the software fails because of an environment issue. That said, if we could, at will, create an environment equivalent to what the operations team would give us, the time wasted waiting for an environment that's not good would go down. Without talking about the test strategy, this idea wouldn't come up.
The outcome of test strategy is validating if there is opportunities to do the test process better. The artifact of test strategy is measuring if the opportunities to test better are met (with less waste) and satisfy the usual people who want some document (auditors, customer).
It is up to the organisation to choose to use the test strategy for this learning purpose. There's no prescription to do so. As per the agile manifesto,
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.