How to document an edge case

In my recent blog post, I talk about the importance of edge cases. I also talk about the importance of

  • Having an edge-cases backlog
  • Keeping it updated
  • Documenting which edge cases you've addressed, and priority of those outstanding

But what if you don't know how to document an edge case? Don't worry, it's easy.

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Follow these simple steps.

  1. Write down all of the current edge cases you can think of. If you have a project management tool you work with, do it there. If you use JIRA, you can create an edge case epic or board, and enter each use case as an individual user story, or as an edge case, if you have that ticket type in your system. This doesn't have to be a long list, just a few to get you going.
  2. To define an edge case: 
    1. State and document the problem. Example: If there is a hail storm, the self-driving car does not know how to react.
    2. Identify any possible product solutions, with your ideal solution highlighted. Some of these may be obvious, but document them anyway. 
      1. Example: 1 - car continues to drive safely despite inclement weather. 2 - car knows to pull over and stop driving if inclement weather is detected.  3 - human driver is alerted to take over driving when inclement weather is detected.
    3. Set up a meeting with your technical team to talk through possible solutions. You'll need to regroup with your engineering team to gather ideas.
    4. Once the edge case is ready to be addressed, choose the best solution, and scope it out. Finding the 'best solution' is both a science and an art. Your engineering team(s) will have strong opinions about what should be done. As a product manager, you need to weigh engineering effort, management needs and opinions, and cost. And don't forget - you're advocating for the best possible solution for the user.


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