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Eight days, 80 testers: Exploratory testing case study at CAST 2009

Software consultant Henrik Andersson implemented an exploratory testing training project in an 80-tester group in only eight days, and he lived to talk about it. Next week, he’ll outline the steps he took to quickly set up a pilot program and train testers in exploratory testing theory and practice during the Conference for the Association for Software Testing (CAST), which takes place July 13-16 in Colorado Springs. In his session, he’ll also cover how he made responsibilities and expectations clear.

I recently interviewed Andersson about his session, titled “Implementing Exploratory Testing at a Large Organization.” He said his first reaction upon receiving the assignment in question was that it was impossible to implement exploratory testing on this scale in that time frame. To reach out to 80 testers is a challenging thing to do, he said, and it takes time to implement such a different way of testing. Yet, he decided to rise to the challenge. “If I turned it down I would not likely get another chance,” said Andersson, a consultant and founder of House of Test, headquartered in Sweden and China.

Once he accepted the project, he had to figure out how to do the impossible.

“I came up with a little twist on the initial request. I suggested that we should pick one tester from each test team and tutor them to become Exploratory Testing Champions. This gave me an initial group of nine people. This is what we achieved during the 8 days. The Champions would then have the responsibilities to tutor the rest of the testers in their teams. The Champions are now continuously working with this in their test teams, and we have established this new role formally.

Andersson’s case will show what the exploratory testing champions approach achieved. He also will explain in detail how the project was implemented. He’ll describe the workshops on theory and practical exploratory testing that he conducted during theproject. He’ll share observations about tutoring a group of people used to working in a completely different way, the positive feelings and feedback he receive, what surprised him and what approaches did not succeed.

Just so you know that Andersson is no newbie to testing metholodies, here’s some information about his background. As a software tester and consultant, he has worked in a variety of fields, including telecom, medical devices, defense, insurance, SAP and supply chain systems.

For the past 10 years, Andersson has focused on working in a context-driven fashion, mixing exploratory testing with more traditional methods, such as RUP, V-model, TMap and others. However, he has never followed any method by the letter. “I always only took the part that has been useful and invented the parts I was lacking,” said Andersson. “I definitely didn’t do the parts that felt were obstacles or not useful.” Indeed, Andersson enjoys helping organizations transform from the “old school” practices.

For more on the upcoming show, check out the CAST conference website. You can learn more about Henrik Andersson and his company House of Test on their website. You can also follow Henrik on Twitter.

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