Scrum and Testing

Adopting the scrum process for software development can have some unwanted
side effects. As we pick up in each sprint small stories, testing
becomes too narrow focused. The tester is often testing the internal
workings of the application. The reason is that we need more than one
sprint to complete stories that converts input to output.

We are currently developing a middleware application. Because of the
small size of the team we keep the stories necessarily small to digest
them in sprints of three weeks. The drawback is that some of these
small stories do not fulfill a complete requirement. The story does not deliver an end product, but an intermediate one. The tester directs his efforts to test the result of the sprint, which in the case of a partially ready requirement, is on this intermediate product. This causes that the internals of the application are tested, tying acceptance tests and internal workings of the application together.

The danger is that in the upcoming sprints the developers may refactor the interal solution for a better one. Moreover, in the next sprint the tester uses his old testscenarios with new testscenarios in a sprint that could  finish the requirement with a follow-up story. But by finally finishing the requirement with the follow-up story, the testscenario for the old story is useless.

Therefore,  a tester must always be focused on the whole and be critical about his testscenarios. Ask a member from the development team to review the testscenarios so no useless work is done. Likewise, communicate as team that a story is partially completing a requirement. Communication is key. The question remains if you should deliver partially ready requirements as a potentially shippable item.

 

The power of the Scrum taskboard

At my job we are using Scrum developing projects. After each sprint-planning we fill the task board with stories and tasks. Recently, I noticed the team gets really focused on these tasks. As a side-effect tasks which are important to the project, but are not on the board because they were so obvious, receive less attention. This behaviour had some serious implications for the sprint goal.

To counter this behaviour, I have asked each team member to explicitly name their tasks for the sprint goal and put it on the board, even if the task was little or obvious. This seems to work.

Miami and Florida

Four weeks ago me and my girlfriend were on a crusade for some
sunshine. After a cloudy winter and spring in the Netherlands we
decided to fly to Miami and soak up some sun. Our first stay was in the
nice hotel Circa 39 on North Miami Beach, close to the beach.

beach at North Miami Beach across the street from Circa 39

After 4 days in Miami, visiting Little Havana and some windsurfing at the Rickenbacker causeway, we headed north along the beautifull A1A highway in a rented Dodge
Charger to Kennedy Space Center. First stop was Fort Lauderdale were we
slept one night in the Alhambra Beach Resort.
In the evening we drove with the car through the million dollar homes
build along the many canals in Fort Lauderdale. The houses were big and
nice, but also very lonely. After getting a bit lost there we ended up
in some private residence area where a security guard told us we should
go back.

The next day we drove to Cocoa Beach which is a
village next to Kennedy Space Center.The motels there were not very
good, so we decided to stay in one of the big hotels there. Big
mistake. The hotel was massive and felt like a prison and breakfast was
even worse. Breakfast was fat, served on plastic plates, cups and
cutlery. On the wall was a big screen with an episode of ‘Who wants to
be a Millionare’ which everybody was watching instead of sitting
outside in the sun with a view on the ocean.

rocket garden Kennedy Space Center

For the ‘I dream of Jeannie’ fans among us, we visited the ‘I dream of
Jeannie’ lane in Cocoa beach and then went to the Kennedy Space Center.
It was a mix of a rocket launch base and an infotainement park. We did
a bus tour along facility’s for the shuttle and from a watchtower saw
two shuttles ready for launch. It appears there is always a backup
shuttle for each planned launch. Then the tour brought us to the
command center were amongst other missions the mars mission was
monitored. Between the big, ancient computers we saw chairs and
consoles and a couple of them were reserved for the IBM guys for
probably on the spot support. I wonder what they have could done in the
case of a bug in a program. Resetting the computer was probably not an
option. After visiting the rocket garden and the highly recommendable
Shuttle Launch experecience the Space center close and we headed for a
hotel called Casa Coquina in Titusville. This hotel was thankfully very nice and had a remarkable interior. The rooms were beautifull.

hallway of Casa Coquina

The next day we visited Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to spot
some manatees in the morning. It was beautifull to see these seagrass
eating creatures swim gracefully to the water.

After that we returned to Miami for the last days of our vacation. We ended up in hotel Circa 39 again, the hotels on South Miami Beach where too hip for me and too expensive for my girlfriend. We visited Coconut Groves and Key Biscayne to see Miami and went to the beach to relax and get some more sun to brace ourselves for the cloudy weather in The Netherlands. Fortunately, on our return the weather was also beautifull in Amsterdam. We flew back with a transfer in Memphis were people spoke with the nice southern accent. A friendly airport security guard promised us to post some postcards we had given him, we had such a busy vacation that we were not able to post them earlier.

On our flight back to Amsterdam i thought about the pros and cons of the USA. The people are lovely, the weather is nice and the nature is awesome. Drawbacks are the lousy food and money is the measure. Good place to visit, but to live there ?