Caveat – this is not a list of exactly what happens in a Rapid Test Management class, nor is it a list of exercises and course material. You won’t become good at Rapid Test Management by reading this post. Sometimes I forget things. If you really want to know about Rapid Test Management then you need to sign up for the class. It will be money well spent and this post will tell you a little about what might happen if you do take the class.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend one of the first Rapid Test Management classes, and certainly the first one to have been run in the UK. It was a great experience and the beginning of a lot more learning. There were attendees from a number of different areas of software testing and together I think we formed a very effective group, learning from each other and sharing experiences.
Rapid Test Management follows on from the Rapid Software Testing class that James Bach and Michael Bolton teach. I’d attended James’ class in Cambridge at the beginning of March and so, with the class material and my ideas rolling around in my head, I pitched up at the Hilton hotel in leafy Kensington (well almost Shepherds Bush actually) for two days of intensive learning from Michael.
Rapid Software Testing is a context driven technique, intended to enable testers to excel at our chosen craft. Since it focuses on testing as a craft itself, instead of merely on the production of test cases and then their use for testing (or it could be argued merely for checking) then this does put some questions in mind when considering how best to manage it. By way of some preparation, I noted down some of the questions that I had:
- How can I best manage each testers time when adopting a Rapid Testing based strategy.
- How does estimation fit in with the Rapid Software Testing ethos?
- How can I sell the idea of Rapid Software Testing not only to those within my team who may be sceptical, but more importantly to those who manage me, who are most likely not only sceptical but also less knowledgeable about software testing in general?
The class was split into two days, the first morning focused mostly on refreshing understanding of Rapid Software Testing and ensuring that, as a group, we had effectively collected our own desired outcomes from the class. It was good to spend some time going back over the methodology itself even though I had learnt it very recently. It was great that Michael seemed happy to tailor the class to the audience in any way that was necessary, taking a lot of time to ensure that everyone’s opinion could be heard.
What I found great about this class, and the RST course, are the little nuggets of information, stories and quotes that James and Michael pass on. Looking back through my notes from this class I find that’s what I mostly write down, quotes like:
“Quality is value to someone who matters”
“Testers tell stories about products”
We also spoke in depth about the testers Elevator Pitch, that two minutes where you have to explain what testing is all about. Being able to explain and justify the role of testers and test teams is a critical skill and Rapid Software Testing gives you that skill.
When implementing any changes, such as introducing Rapid Test Management for example, then it’s critical to take into account the existing knowledge and processes that are already in use. Michael stressed the importance of ensuring that it’s not only the documented processes that are considered; in fact it’s the informal processes that are far more important to understand. He spoke about tacit vs explicit knowledge and how it is important for managers to be aware of the tacit knowledge in a test team and not merely the explicit knowledge.
We then took a look at how to put together a good team and how to train a new tester who was coming onto the team, through guidance and suitable heuristics. It was great to discuss with the others in the class about the issues they had faced when coming into a new team or bringing new team members in and also what had gone well. Ensuring that people are trained in a fault tolerant environment and gradually introduced to new tasks may seem fairly obvious stuff but it’s often over-looked, as is the need to ensure that feedback is both given and asked for from new team members.
Day 1 concluded with a look at metrics and how important they really are, v.s. how important most organisations seem to think they are. Michael pointed us towards Cem Kaner and Walter Bond’s paper Software Engineering Metrics: What Do They Measure and How Do We Know which I would definitely recommend reading.
Find out what happened on day 2 soon…