Desk checks or dev box testing

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

A desk check or dev box testing is an informal manual process for verifying the programming and logic of a story in the developer’s environment, before pushing or merging the code.

“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” — Aristotle

Regular and methodical dev box testing reduces defects discovered in the later stages of the development lifecycle and saves much time. In good agile teams, dev box testing for every story is a common practise.

In any agile team, the team comprises of various roles. But the participants of a desk check are the following roles:

Benefits of a desk check

The benefits of a desk check are threefold:

To find any bugs, mismatch with requirement or missing acceptance criteria.

It helps to align the BA, developer and QA’s understanding on the final story outcome.

Based on the desk check, QA knows that the story is going to move to the testing phase soon and can make sure that the required automated tests, environment, list of test cases and test data is ready to test the story thoroughly.

How to go about a desk check

As mentioned before, in an ideal scenario, the devs who worked on the task, BA and the QA are part of the desk check. The following are the major steps in this process.

Step 1 —

Developer (or a pair of developers) pick their story, analyse it and start working on it. They move to step 2 once they are comfortable that the story is “dev complete”. That is:

Step 2 —

The developer invites the QA and BA to perform the desk check. In case of a remote/distributed team a video call can be set up for the same.

IMPORTANT: Before the desk check starts, the devs must prepare their local dev environment with the relevant test data handy. They must also have the story description and acceptance criteria ready for verification.

Developer : sets a quick context about the story, explaining the inputs and outputs. They must also take note of all the bugs or discrepancies found during the desk check

QA : tests the story for different scenarios, especially edge scenarios. [In the remote situation, the QA can guide the developer to follow steps and observe the results]

BA: actively participates in the testing, specifically focusing on the business aspect of the story.

Step 3 —

If any bugs or discrepancies are found, then developer continues of the development of the story to fix the issues, and call for another desk check when done.

Step 4 —

Developer can move to the code review stage after a successful desk check.

Things to remember

Conclusion

In my personal experience, desk checks are a very important agile ceremony which helps to fail fast and avoid defects in the future.

For it to be successful the developers, QA and BA have to be aligned with the process and purpose of the activity and take complete advantage of it prevent issues later in the development life cycle.

All the best !

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