QA Focus

Sep 13 2008   4:20AM GMT

The Birth of Business Process Testing

Sentinel627 Greg Annen Profile: Sentinel627

Not recently, several test tool vendors introduced a concept known as Business Process Testing. In general, it’s a method for organizing test assets in such a way that their relationship to the business processes they represent is obvious to the non-technical user.

To understand what this implies, let’s first clarify what is meant by “business process”.

One of the first people to describe business processes was Adam Smith in his famous (1776) example of how a pin is produced in a factory:

”One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head: to make the head requires two or three distinct operations: to put it on is a particular business, to whiten the pins is another … and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which in some manufactories are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometime perform two or three of them.”

So a business process can be represented as a series of components whose steps performed together create something of value to the consumer of the company’s product. Let’s see how Adam Smith’s example translates into some business components:

  • Draw Out Wire
  • Straighten Wire
  • Cut Wire
  • Point Wire
  • Grind Wire Top
  • Make Pin Head
  • Attach Pin Head to Wire
  • Whiten Finished Pin

Each component involves a series of steps or operations which are required to complete that process.

If this all sounds familiar, it should, because we are also describing the structure of a test case. At some point, test tool designers sat back and thought “Wow! If we organize test cases under business processes, even people who don’t fully understand automated test tools can understand how to build tests — Eureka!”

And so was born Business Process Testing – BPT.

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