Jessie Alford told me something that astounded me… he’s at Pivotal, working on Cloud Foundry… hey wait a minute, that means he’s in my neck of the woods now! Mind you, that has nothing whatsoever to do with his talk which is “Driving Adoption of Chartered Exploratory Testing In An Agile Organization”, but it made me smile because I have talked with a n umber of people over the last couple of years about what Cloud Foundry does and how they approach testing… and now I can see it for real :).
Pivotal believes in exploratory testing, even if they don’t have a dedicated test team. They have dedicated explorers that work in shifts along with their other development responsibilities. they create a variety of charters to help describe areas that might be risky.
I am impressed that a programming team would spent the time to develop charters for exploratory testing, but Pivotal has surprised me many times over the years (at my previous job I was a daily user of Pivotal Tracker). Jessie shared his backlog with listed charters, and it’s cool to see how targeted they are.
Also what’s cool is that everyone is encouraged to write charters, and each team develops their own norms as to how they are written. Each of the questions they ask are able to point back to the charters for targeted testing. As Jessie explained, charters are a general purpose scaffold. When Dev teams started looking at charters, they used them for testing, but they also started using them for lots of other things, like how to interact with other components, and use it to make sure that they are working effectively.
Another key aspect they learned was that pairing is not enough to communicate skills across an organization, but charters can allow teams to codify those abilities. Additionally, it’s not enough to just teach exploratory skills, but to be able to confirm that those skills are transferred. In Pivotal, the term “test” doesn’t get used very often in Pivotal, but “Explore” is an every day word. When you say test in a TDD, CI, CD environment, test has become so diffuse that it’s lost its meaning, but exploring is easy to communicate, so it gets used. Automated checks are of course used and are important, but the ability to look at exploring makes clear the ways it is used in Pivotal, which is pretty cool.
Quick message to Natalie Bennett, Elisabeth Hendrickson and Dave Liebreich… Jessie done good, y’all should be proud of him. Jessie, if you find yourself down in the Pivotal Palo Alto office, let me know so we can get together for lunch or something :).