SharePoint testing for Process Owners

This picture has been inspired by this book:
This picture has been inspired by this book:

When I create a solution, I always casually ask the process owner to “test it”. I have found that I often get change requests when the system has been running for some time. This has made me realize that process owners may not always know HOW to test properly.
Although SharePoint is pretty flexible, it can be hard to make changes afterwards without compromising content and setup. (Ever tried replacing a Choice column by a Lookup column mid-process?) I would like to prevent that.

How should end users test?
I have looked for good websites or “Software testing for dummies” but I have been unable to find something sufficiently practical for this purpose. Remember, my users excel in other things than IT and testing. They do not need a lot of theory. They just want to get it over with as soon as possible.
So I thought I’d write down an average test scenario “for the business”, based on the solutions I usually create. Please let me know if you have additional resources and ideas.

My usual SharePoint solutions.
My solutions usually consists of a list and a few actions.
Someone enters values in the list, clicks OK and then an Alert (or workflow email) is being sent, and the recipient does something. There may be several cycles.
Or, a little more structured:
Data Entry > Save > Notification > Recipient takes action > Recipient enters or changes data > Save > Repeat from “ Notification”  if needed.

I will use two examples, described before:
* Software Cost Reductions. This is a very simple one-step process: Data entry > Save > Notification > Recipient takes action.

Simple process: survey with 2 questions.

* CRM in a TeamSite. This is a multi-step process with different roles, where there are  several cycles of Notification > Recipient takes Action > Recipient enters or changes data > Save.

First part of a Multi-step process
First part of a Multi-step process

Why do I not do this for my users?
Oh I do. Before I ask the process owner to test I have made sure that it works at least from a functionality standpoint. But I know too much about SharePoint, so I generally know what to expect and where to look, even if the solution is not very intuitive. And I do not know the process as well as my process owner does, and I do not know which mistakes their colleagues may make.
Only the process owner can give me that information.

But it is so much work!
Well, that depends. Some processes are very simple to test and will take 15 minutes. The CRM example on the other hand was a complicated process, and it took several optimization rounds and several weeks to be OK and clear for everyone. The business case was enormous so all effort was worth it! And implementation went very smoothly because it was tested rigorously by several people.

So, here goes:
How to test your SharePoint solution.

Please test your SharePoint solution properly to answer the following questions:
– Have we understood and captured your needs correctly?
– Will this help you with a better and smoother process?
– Is it simple enough to be adopted quickly by your team?
– Do you feel confident with the solution so you can introduce it to your users and own the solution?

Step 1. Check the process.
Have the process description or flowchart ready. If you do not have a flowchart, you may want to write down the different steps schematically, from first entry to finalization. Note the different roles that you can have.

  • Software Cost Reductions: You will be an end user, and the local IT manager.
  • CRM: You will be Customer Services, the Distribution Department, the Quaity Department, the Transport organization (external), the Business Manager and Treasury.

Step 2. Sketch some common scenarios.
Imagine some likely scenarios.
What is the ideal process? What are the different routes an item can take, e.g. approval, rejection, delegation, wait for more info, etc. Are there any mistakes that are often made?
Be prepared to test all those scenarios.

Step 3. Set Alerts.
If this process depends on Alerts, make sure you have the proper Alert(s) set up even if you will not be the recipient of the Alerts in the real situation. You will need to check if all works OK first before handing this process over to others.

Step 4: Plan time!
Plan time in your agenda to do this. You are expected to run the process several times (2-5) in its entirety by yourself. Please allow time to make notes of your findings and give feedback.

  • Software Requests: 15 mins.
  • CRM: could be a day.

OK, these were the preparations. Next time, we will start to test properly!


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