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For the last four years myself and my colleagues at RainStor have been evolving a process for testing a structure data archiving system in an Agile development environment. In this talk I will discuss the evolution of a team from a rudimentary Agile implementation on an unreleased product, to our current process which uses the fundamental elements of Specification By Example to successfully deliver software functionality across 30 different platform/backend configurations to a series of high profile and demanding customers. Last year our company was used as a case study for successful implementation in Gojko Adzic's book on Specification By Example.
My report will discuss the lessons learned during the early implementation and the challenges faced in moving away from a compressed waterfall approach. Through a process of incremental change we have identified and tackled the fundamental issues that undermined the development effort as a team. I’ll describe some of the mistakes made in attempting to implement a more formal process of requirements documentation into an Agile implementation and the benefits we uncovered on moving to a more flexible user story based approach. I’ll also discuss some of the issues around trying to implement user stories in a server system with no GUI and very technical and performance based requirements.
Raising the importance of quality and the status of testing both within the development team and the organisation as a whole has allowed the challenges facing the team to be recognised and respected. The result has been a more collaborative approach taken between developers and testers both through “collaborative specification” of user stories and tackling the problems that impact the delivery of value to the customers. I also plan to discuss how we’ve expanded from documenting acceptance criteria for each user story such that we now document Criteria, Assumptions and Risks for each feature and, rather than a ‘Done/Not Done’ approach how we identify the confidence in each of these categories to measure the confidence we have in each new feature being implemented.
Having the test team as an involved and influential team through the entire development process has also allowed us to implement a number of testability features to help to make the product more testable. I will discuss the benefits of having development understand and prioritise testability issues with some illustrative examples.
I will discuss the challenges and benefits of developing our own metadata driven test harnesses as opposed to an off the shelf solution. I’ll detail how having control over these harnesses has allowed us to work towards a self documenting test system using realistic customer examples as “Automated Specifications” of the RainStor system allowing us to explain current behaviour to Product Management in terms of well understood customer scenarios.
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