The Risk Questionnaire

T9     Start Time : 16:45     End Time : 17:30

The concept of risk is at the heart of every testing activity. When we communicate using terms such as “tested” and “done” there is an unspoken implication regarding to the level of risk involved. Part of the role of a tester is in understanding the appropriate risk levels for their organisation and testing appropriately. The problem that can occur here is that different people within an organisation may have very different opinions over what the level of risk is, or should be.

Whilst primarily a case study, in this talk I will take some time to examine the nature of individual risk perception and how it influences our testing work. Whilst we like to think that we adopt a logical approach to risk, our own assessment abilities are in fact influenced strongly by our evolutionary past. Using studies of human behaviour I’ll reveal some surprising patterns in humans such as ‘risk compensation’ and the ‘availability heuristic’ and the challenging implications of these for testers, including why testers and business leaders will inevitably differ in their risk assessment of any situation.

In a recent move to a new organisation, one of the things that was immediately apparent to me was the lack of a consistent understanding between business leaders, developers and myself over what appropriate levels of testing rigour and acceptable risk were. To tackle this inconsistency I adopted an innovative technique from financial services to establish the risk appetite of individuals towards savings and investment – a risk questionnaire. We’ll see how, by using such a questionnaire as a platform for a risk conversation we exposed a lack of consensus across the business. I’ll show how the results identified areas of conflict between the desires of the business leadership team and the development approach and how the findings helped us to recommend a test strategy that resolved these conflicts and delivered a testing approach suitable for the risk profile of the business.

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    • Speaker

    • Adam_Knight


      Adam Knight - Head of Product and Testing , River, UK

      Adam Knight is Head of Product and Test at River and an active contributor to the testing community. As well as maintaining a popular blog he is also a regular speaker at testing conferences and has even managed to sneak his name into a couple of books on the subject of agile testing. With a background specialising in data analysis and business intelligence systems, Adam is a strong advocate of exploratory testing approaches backed by intelligent use of tools and automation. He has over 17 years experience of testing, however in that time has never taken exactly the same approach twice.

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