This content is part of the Essential Guide: Gathering and managing software project requirements
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Test software with persona-based requirements

Do persona-based requirements make it easier to test software? Learn if there are tools designed to make testing software easier.

Do persona-based requirements make it easier to test software? Are there tools out there designed specifically for managing persona-based requirements?

Persona-based requirements most definitely make it easier, not only in designing, but also in testing software. A persona is a detailed demographic developed about a typical user and it usually represents one specific type of user. You can have several different personas for an application under test. Personas are different from actors in use cases. Actors are descriptions of roles; personas are descriptions of users who might play the roles. More than one persona might play the same role, albeit in a different way.  

As you can imagine, the multiple personas written for an application can yield lots of test scenarios. In fact, personas provide far more test scenarios than those developed from use cases.  When test cases are built through use cases, actors portray how various roles negotiate the main and alternate paths of the application. Test cases built from personas provide ideas for non-standard uses of the application, and often uncover defects in the category of "the user would never do that."

When personas are combined with scenarios -- sometimes called user value stories -- they can be even more effective for testing. User value stories focus on the interaction between the user and the application, and detail the value the user expects from the system. Test scenarios developed from user stories are invaluable for usability and human experience testing. And these test scenarios are critical for testing wearables, because the closer a device is to a user, the more important it is to test the user's interaction and collaboration with it.

Several tools are specifically designed for managing persona-based requirements. CompuCom recently released a new product, Persona Service Management, geared specifically to persona-based requirements.  Rally provides strong user story functionality, and VMware provides View Persona Management, which you can use to develop personas of current users.

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I believe that Personas can in fact help inform testing.  I've always thought that knowing more about the types of people who may use your software, and the ways in which they inform it will in fact, not only inform testing, but it can inform teams on how to better grow their products to better meet those needs.