Applying the Lessons of Rapid Testing Intensive

Recently, I was provided the opportunity to attend Rapid Testing Intensive workshop online hosted by James Bach. The workshop consisted of intermixed morning and afternoon lecture session followed immediately by hands on sessions. Over the five days of RTI2012, James led us on a journey which illustrated the Rapid Software Testing approach to an end-to-end evaluation of an actual production website. Thankfully, my company allowed me a week of 'training' hours so that I could pay full attention to the workshop and I think it paid off.

I had previously read many of the blogs online, including those of both James Bach and Michael Bolton. I have never had the opportunity to attend the RST classes, but I have read through the RST slides multiple times. As a result, I felt I was "book prepared" but the reality of the workshop was unbelievable. The understanding of how the various components fit together to provide a focused, structured analysis of applications just seemed to click.

Our development team is relatively small - a group of three outstanding developers, a team of experience support personnel, and myself as the testing coordinator and primary black box tester. Recently, we hired a new IT support person and part of his job is to learn the application, from installation, usage, and from a testing perspective. I was put in charge of overseeing the learning process. Prior to this, he had some IT support experience, no software testing experience, but a willingness to learn.

I organized the training based on the lessons learned from RTI: the training was session-based with a short lead-in lecture or discussion, an independent hands-on period, and a short debrief at the end. The focus of the training was not simply to train the new employee in the application, but also to develop important skills: questioning, exploring, note taking, and structured analysis.

After a week, we were making good progress covering installation, basic application usage, and a session with our lead content developer in an understanding of how the customer uses the application. Finally, we came to the sessions on testing.

I decided that it was time to hold nothing back and I immediately worked with the trainee to develop a testing focus based on the RTI workshop model. I had him create a Test Coverage Outline with four focus areas for a specific function that we were in currently developing:

* Oracles - This was discussed based on the FEW HICCUPPS heuristics with a discussion of each to provide a basis for what would constitute a defect.

* Surfaces - We performed a surface analysis of the function, identifying the interfaces/functions, platforms/operating systems, user roles, and some other internal application functions.

* Risks - We created a list of the primary risks based on the fact that it was a new function in an early development build.

* Test Environment - We discussed what documentation he needed, the need for dual screens, and a tutorial session on the use of Jira (including search techniques for identifying duplicate issues)

It is currently two weeks into the training and we are already working on evaluating a functional area that I had finished testing last week. His session goal this week: use a deep analysis session to find a major defect that I overlooked. When that happens, we will go through the Jira process of what makes a good defect, from creating a good summary to what is needed for a good reproduction description. With experience, we will eventually go into more advanced testing techniques to help hone his skills.

With the session-based test/training approach we are able to slow down or review areas where needed. Within a few weeks, I was able to take a person who knew nothing about testing and give him the tools to become a very dangerous tester - maybe even better than me. And this is given the session restriction of two hours a day, where he spends the rest of the day doing the IT support functions.

Wish him luck!

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