Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Testing (teasing) your Product Owner

It so much fun (ok, it is about being a bit of nasty..) :)

Anyway, here's a story about what I did just recently when I was invited to join a "scrum" team that had some difficulties to deliver.

I was told that the team has been developing fancy system for 2+ years. The development was not too much guided (= missing leadership) so the team just did what was "wished" by "stakeholders" and now they were on their way to "put it out".

I tried to understand the system with help of some of the developers that had been part of the team. We went trough some of the functionalities together and after a while I got the impression that the system was way too complicated for any "non-techie" to use (yes, it was meant to be used by non-techies). I wondered who had requested such a features and yet approved the features in the demos.

I took few screenshots and went to the Product Owner (PO) to have a chat. I asked him to describe what the screens are about and in few seconds he admitted that he had no idea. Encouraged by that I requested if any of the stakeholders would know if I would visit them with the screenshots. Not surprising the answer was "I don't think so". I wondered what would be the cost of building such complex features.

When a "scrum" team delivers something that nobody has requested nor approved the demos must suck. I went off back to the team and asked how have they conducted their demos.

The team told that their demos were "practiced" beforehand (good? maybe..) so that the tester who will go trough the implemented stories knows all the "traps" that should not be touched. In another words demos were about looking good (~lying that it is done) and not letting the customer to trial. No wonder that they were not ready to put it out when the time had come.

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