Monday, 15 February 2010

Exploratory Testing and Scrums

I was having a conversation with Michael Bolton ( and we started to discuss how ET can be incorporated effectively within agile scrums. After a few minutes of chatting Michael suggested that I blog my thoughts on this since it appeared to be a good idea.

So here we have a short article on how we could use ET within a scrum.

The structure of a scrum in my experience is

What you have done?
What you intend to do?
What is stopping you?

In most cases a scrum normally turns into a technical debate – this may not always be the case but it is something that I have experienced. My thoughts are why not use the time in the scrum to the benefit of testers?

Instead of just saying what you have done, tell the story of what charters you have followed and what you have found interesting. Talk about the test ideas you followed and what other test ideas (test coverage?) you have thought about while testing.

The crucial difference is the next part:

Instead of just saying what charters or testing ideas you intend to carry out for the next days work why not start a discussion on what test areas they feel you could be missing – this would involve the programmer, the product owner and any others in attendance at the scrum. Imagine the benefit in using the experience and knowledge of other people on the project to help with your test coverage.

I am sure people could say why not just go and talk to them individually for their ideas? My view is that people are more than likely to bounce ideas off each other and trigger responses in others when they are together as a team rather than as individuals.

I have attempted to do this in my own scrums with mixed success. Sometimes people within the team have pointed out huge areas of coverage that the test team had not even thought about whilst in other cases there has been a muted silence. I feel for this to work depends on the dynamics of the team and how they interact.

The next stage for this experiment would be to try and take the user stories during the planning sessions and open a discussion on test coverage/ideas. I really would like to try to use something like HICCUPPS ( ) or SFDPOT ( with all the development team to see if we as a team could improve test coverage.

I know I promised an article on my experience of being coached by Michael Bolton on Exploratory Testing and my discussions with Jon Bach ( on managing ET. However I thought I should blog this while it is still in my mind. The article will happen I promise. I just want to wait until I have finished the coaching sessions.

Plus shrinik – I have not forgotten that I will blog an article measuring management with a story. – I hope to put this together sometime in March.

1 comment:

  1. Hi John,

    Nice post, you are quite right we can have more productive session in scrum meetings, as you mentioned.