The Dev manager scooted his chair over to my desk yesterday with that particular smile on his face that means he knows something I don't know.
Dev: Got a question for you. [Grin]
QA: One of those questions with implications? [Grimace]
Dev: Hidden implications. [Toothpaste advert]
QA: Lots of hidden implications? [Frown]
Dev: I'm sitting on the tip of an iceberg of implications. [Cheshire cat]
This is not a novel phrase for not a novel idea but it reminds me to keep myself in check when I'm trying to think through whatever the issue turns out to be.
Dev: We need to audit these components against specific criteria for a stakeholder. They're used everywhere in the product. [Richard Branson]
Hmm. I can see what's above the water for free; I can get an idea of what's just below well enough; I could dive deep down but I have to get my gear ready and the currents and the winds and new snowfall will have shifted things by the time I resurface.
Dev: Now. [Rictus]
When I can't see the scale of the berg yet and I don't have time I'll look for a cheap way to model or approximate it instead, then give a qualified answer. The kinds of things I might consider include
- a previous testing task in the same area
- an existing product with the same functionality
- gut feeling estimates from several people
- asking colleagues who've worked on similar things elsewhere
- web search for known solutions in the area
- estimated amount of code change compared to earlier projects with similar amounts
- the complexity of the spec against other features
- any existing estimate for this project and their accuracy to date
- some notional per-day figure for e.g. proof reading or code review vs number of pages to be read
- stability and code health of the product components being affected
- the experience of the developer and tester in this area of the product, this toolkit, this domain etc