03 December, 2009

Claims Testing

What is a Claim?
A claim can be anything that someone in the company says about the product. It could be requirements, online help, sales/marketing material, Advertisements on different media or even word of mouth blabbering along the hallway by a project manager to the stakeholder.

Claims can be classified into two categories. ‘Explicit’ claims are the claims that are explicitly stated. ‘Implicit’ claims are not stated explicitly, but imply something. It is important to analyze all the individual claims and clarify vague claims. Every claim about the product needs to be verified. In reality, most of the time goes in testing the product that there is hardly any time left to test the claims. I am forced to think that most projects do not see the light of the day when it comes to claims testing, usability testing and performance testing. If the context does not demand these, so be it. Is the customer Ok with this is the question?

Application to Test
Tux Paint is a free, award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 (for example, preschool and K-6). It combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program. Kids are presented with a blank canvas and a variety of drawing tools to help them be creative.

Test the claims made in Tux Paint application

In my experience so far, the Sales/Marketing professionals handling product demos make a few fake promises to the customers about some features and then rush back to the engineering team to create that feature from scratch. So these folks claimed that the feature that the customer is interested in is indeed present in the product while it is not! Wow. What a Claim! I have seen this happen in a few projects where the sales guys come running to the Product Management team t(y)elling ‘I have told the customer that this is supported. You develop it now’ kind of a statement. What if the customer sues the organization on this basis?

There are hardly any projects where claims made by the product/people are tested. Moreover, it is hard to track what each and every person in the project is claiming about the product. Hence, there is a strong need to educate the entire project team to the pitfalls of false claims within and outside the organization. If the organization does not educate you, you educate yourself! Claim the Truth.

Click HERE for the SBMT Report on Tux Paint.

Happy Claiming,
Parimala Shankaraiah

Addendum on 18th November 2011
Mindmap for Claims Testing is found HERE