How to Coach Subject Matter Experts to Do Testing - Jesper Ottosen

Jesper Ottosen
Jesper Ottosen
How to Coach Subject Matter Experts to Do Testing - Jesper Ottosen

In the recent years I have been working on projects with no dedicated testers but plenty of testing. The testing has primarily been performed by subject matter experts. This is where it gets interesting, as my role on these projects has been to lead the testing being performed by people that have limited experience in testing. They also have no desire to be testing specialists, after all they are already specialists in their own subjects, however, everyone agrees and insist that the testing needs doing. So how do we ensure that the testing being done is done well?

After having worked on several very different projects, yet still with subject matter experts doing the testing, I have been able to get both the public process clerks and the technology specialists to perform excellent testing. This talk is about the approaches that I have found work well:

  • One of the approaches is for me to prepare the test cases and prepare them only as headlines. Sometimes preparing the tests as open questions helps too. 
  • Another approach is to lead them as if they are doing the project participation voluntarily. They probably are, but still it helps to respect where they are coming from.

The lessons though (good and bad) is relevant to many testers in other situations, especially being the only “tester” on the team. The story applies equally to developers and business end users doing most of the testing and you will have them contributing with great testing in no time!

What You'll Learn

  • Recognise how testing looks when done by subject matter experts
  • Lead a testing activity with an appreciative and motivating style
  • Recognise¬†how teams can do great testing without dedicated testers

Jesper Ottosen

Senior Advisory Consultant

Jesper primarily works with programs and projects that change the IT landscape of the organization, either by transitioning complete IT services or by transforming the IT solutions for the business to more up-to-date approaches and technologies. Jesper believes that aligning the business drivers and management needs is key to establishing a relevant test strategy. Jesper has recently used Wardley mapping to understand the business needs. He has found it key to create test activities that support organizational needs and business goals to scale. In addition, he has authored multiple leadership resources to help professionals see how making test strategy visible can deepen understanding of the ever-evolving systems landscape.