2.3. Using Drafts to Stimulate Discussion

I expect to release several versions of any test plan I write. Far from finding this frustrating, this sequence of drafts is a dialog that provides me an opportunity to pose questions to the readers. I use brackets in my plans (as opposed to colored fonts, which don't show up as well in hard copy) to indicate questions and open issues. My first drafts are always full of bracketed questions and statements such as these:

[TBD: Need to figure out what the hardware allocation plan is.]

[TBD: Need the Configuration Management team to define the revision numbering schema and the packaging.]

[TBD: Mary, please tell me how this should work?]

Although this might seem like "copping out," identifying and documenting open issues are among the most useful aspects of the planning exercise. Writing the plan forces me to think through the entire test effort—tools, processes, people, and technology—and to confront issues that I might otherwise miss. I then use the first few drafts of the plan as a method of bringing these issues to the attention of my peers and my managers.

That said, I do spend some time thinking about the questions, concerns, and issues I raise. If possible, rather than simply asking a question, I also include a suggested answer or a set of possible answers. A test plan that consists largely of notations about matters that are "to be determined" or issues that await resolution by someone else doesn't add a lot of value.

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