Next Steps after Surprising Test Results

During product development, we're consistently looking for ways to learn more about the product in order to make design decisions. Some of that comes from test.

What do we do when our test results are...surprising?

We talk about some next steps I typically take when tasked with surprises.

Some steps to get us started after surprising test results: what did we learn?

  1. Revisiting the purpose. Did we answer the question we originally started with, or no?
  2. Understanding failure modes at test vs. what we expected. We can go back to our definition of a failure mode from requirements and our FMEAs (failure mode and effects analyses). How do our test results compare to those? What have we learned?
  3. Finding a root cause by following a process, with the help of FMEA causes - things we thought could cause the failure mode. Does it match? What has changed?
  4. Deciding what to do next, depending on where we are in the development process. We also refer back to the FMEA with an update to it based on our test results. Has our risk analysis changed? Has our concluding risk statement changed? We may find that it has, in which case we need to assess what to do about that with our team. If we've identified a new risk, we can work to eliminate or control it.

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