This is an introduction to a mindmap which captures some questions testers can ask to assist them in providing information (there is also an associated series of blog posts called ‘Assisting with inquiries‘).
You can see an image of the mindmap below. You can also download it from the Test Insane mind map repository (click on the link):
The branches of the mindmap address the questions in four categories, loosely based on WHEN we ask them. Each branch has a separate page looking in detail at the questions in that branch (click on the links below to jump to the page relating to that branch):
- Questions to ask before reporting which relate to the needs of the audience.
- Questions to ask before reporting which relate to the mechanics of reporting.
- Questions to ask whilst reporting which relate to the information you provide.
- Questions to ask after reporting which relate to how you might improve your reports.
Within these categories, the questions are grouped again using the interrogative words WHO, WHAT, WHEN and HOW.
I don’t claim the collection of questions to be comprehensive (I welcome any suggestions for additional questions) but I do believe they will be helpful in providing useful information.
Along with the four main branches, there are two other important elements to the map.
Firstly, the word WHY has been isolated. It would be possible to include a whole raft of questions starting with WHY. Instead, I recommend using the word as a means of testing your assumptions and reasoning once you believe you have an answer to one of the other questions.
Secondly, I have included three characteristics to help understand the quality of the information you provide:
- Valuable information helps someone make a decision or take action. If information is not valuable then it probably does not need to be reported. Filtering out information which is not valuable is an important skill when reporting.
- Timely information is provided when your audience need it. Information which is provided too late might result in a bad decision or the wrong action. Awareness of when people need information plays a significant role in effective communication.
- Reliable information can be trusted. If decisions and actions are based on the information you provide then it is essential that it is reliable. Of course, the opposite is also true; unreliable information cannot be trusted and if you deliver unreliable information you are unlikely to be trusted either.
These three characteristics can be considered any time information is provided. You may not always be able to judge how valuable, timely and reliable your information is but you can probably use one of the questions to help you.
Quick links to the posts and pages in this series:
Assisting with inquiries – blog posts
- Introduction to the series
- Part 1 – your audience
- Part 2 – the mechanics
- Part 3 – filtering information
- Part 4 – how was it for you?