Time Trial Testing Episode 1: SFDIPOT Model

Introduction: Recently, Brian Kurtz and I thought it’d be fun to take a look at a process, tool or model within the testing industry at least once per week and use them on a specific feature or product to create a test strategy within a time-box of 30 minutes. Once complete, we draw conclusions letting you know what benefits we feel that we gathered from the exercise. We’re calling this our “Time Trial Testing” series (working title) for now, so if you come up with a better name let us know. We hope that you can apply some of the information we’re sharing here, to your daily testing routine. Remember, you can always pick and try out a Testing Mnemonics from this list and see what works for you. Be sure to share your own conclusions, either on Twitter or post a comment here, so that your findings can benefit the larger community of testers.


Episode 1: SFDIPOT Model & Evernote

This week, we decided to tackle the SFDIPOT model, created by James Bach and updated later by Michael Bolton. This is actually a revised version of the Product Elements node within the Heuristic Test Strategy Model (HTSM X-Mind), explained here: http://www.satisfice.com/tools/htsm.pdf#page=4

So, in our 30-minute session, we decided to use this model on Evernote. Yes, the entirety of Evernote; we’ll explain later why that’s was a bad idea, but we forged ahead anyway, for the sake of scientific exploration. Brian and I worked on this separately from 3:00-3:30pm, then came together from 3:30-4:00pm to combine notes and our piece our models into one larger mind-map that ended up being more beneficial to our test strategy creation than either of our models would have been on their own. The following image was created from this collaboration, and below is the post-timebox discussion where Brian and I talk about the realizations and benefits of what we found using this model.

Time Trial Testing - Evernote and SFDIPOT

Click image to enlarge (X-Mind File)

Connor’s Observations:

  • Using this model increased my awareness of features within Evernote that I had never used before, even though I have used the app for years.
  • The UI challenged my assumptions of how a certain feature should work based on how I have used them with other applications. (e.g. Tags can be saved via Enter key or by using a comma)
  • The model helped me be a more reliable tester, especially when I need to test across multiple modules (i.e. multiple stories for a shared feature). “Just because you know something doesn’t mean you’ll remember it when the need arises.” – James Bach
  • Leverage the wisdom of the crowd. (e.g. A team with two testers could do this exercise separately, focusing on different parts, and then combine them after in conjunction with peer review. This makes your models much more robust, as well as uses time more efficiently).
  • I was not as familiar with this model (Product Elements node of HTSM) as I am others, so it somewhat create a sense of being a ‘new tester’ on a product, as if I had never used it before. I felt like the model gave me new ideas, as it provided me a pathway I have never explored before when using Evernote. I did not feel as jaded as I might have if I were to test it without a model.
  • Using the model made me realize that when you have massive products, or multiple stories around the same feature, you should not wait until you have a minimum viable product to test, because by then the testing effort may be insurmountable. Start testing soon and often, even if the code is not 100% complete, so that you do not get overwhelmed as a tester. Many times we complain about Dev-complete late in the sprint causing us not to meet a deadline, but this sometimes could be mitigated by testing things earlier, even if in an incomplete state. (e.g. If you are a blackbox/manual tester, then ask a developer to assist you with some API testing to verify backend functionality even before the UI is complete).

Brian’s Observations:

  • Using this model helped me to understand the language of the Evernote team, in how they use terminology as it relates to the application (e.g. Notes are stored in a “Notebook” not a “Folder”)
  • If you work on it together at the same time initially, then we roadblock each other, because we’re having to interrupt the other’s train of thought to get everything put down simultaneously. This is a failing of human nature and how the mind works, not related to any individual’s own fault.
  • Using the model helped to focus our thinking. I could just think about “Structure” then I could just think about “Function”, etc. Since I knew the model I was using was complete and eventually would cover everything I wanted, I knew I would get to all the important aspect at some point, so this freed my mind up from having to constantly focus/defocus. I could just think about the “Structure” node for a given set of time, without distraction. This prevents the potential loss of currently running threads in our mind, so that new thoughts do not supersede or completely squash existing or unfinished thoughts.
  • The model helped me realize that as I went through the nodes, I was reminded that I won’t have access to the backed since I am not an Evernote employee which reminded me that I needed to make a note about not being something I would be able to test, therefore no amount of additional testing time would have addressed that concern. This should be something I inform my stakeholders about, as it is a test limitation they may not assume exists.
  • The model helped me not start testing too soon. It helped me realize that there was a lot of learning that I needed to do before I jumped in. I could have started testing the GUI, and maybe been somewhat effective, but I think if I do research and investigation before I actually test, then I will test in a much more efficient way than that addresses my stakeholders’ concerns more completely, than if I had just started testing right out of the gates.


We realized about halfway through that we took on too much. We should have picked a specific feature or module, so that we could be much more focused and make great progress in one area rather than mediocre progress on the whole. In other words, don’t stretch yourself thin as a tester. Also, doing features/modules in smaller bite-sized chunks, then allows you to put them together later like a puzzle into a much larger and more complete mind map, allowing you to create a more valuable test strategy.

We hope this exploration exercise has helped, and look forward to posting many more of these episodes in the future. Please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

This blog post was coauthored with Brian Kurtz.

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