RSTM - Rapid Software Testing for Managers



...developed by Michael Bolton (CA) and James Bach (US)

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This class is based on


See also



Rapid Software Testing for Managers (RSTM) is a course about a mission-focused, credible, and accountable approach to test management that is very fast, very inexpensive, and that delivers excellent results.


Are you a new test manager?

  • Are you an experienced test manager, being pressured to make testing faster and less expensive?
  • Are you finding that traditional, "best-practice" approaches to testing are making testing slower and more expensive than your clients demand?
  • Are you being asked to manage a test group for an organization that's moving to Scrum or other Agile methodologies?
  • Are you a project manager with responsibility for managing or directing an offshore outsource testing group?
  • Are you managing an offshore or outsource testing group, and trying to provide the best value for your clients?
  • Are you struggling with measuring and managing the performance of your test team?
  • Are you finding it difficult to report the status of testing on your project?
  • Are you having trouble setting the right balance between planning, documentation, and testing?
  • Are you trying to figure out how to recruit, select, or train a skilled and diversified test team?
  • Do you want to get very good at managing the software testing effort?


Rapid Software Testing for Managers is designed to help you solve these problems. Based on the Rapid Software Testing course and methodology, and on the practices developed by James Bach, Dr. Cem Kaner, and Michael Bolton, this class answers key questions about how to staff, plan, and run testing projects more quickly, less expensively, and entirely accountably.


The skills presented in this class are applicable in any kind of test project, from agile to traditional, but will be especially valuable in those projects where time and resources are scarce.


How Is This Course Different?

Rapid Software Testing for Managers is a one- or two-day class, available for individuals or small groups, in which we will explore test management, your organization's context and how to respond to it. We'll do the work through experiential exercises, puzzles, and scenarios, along with short presentations, conversation, and some actual testing and reporting. The goal of the course is to teach you how to respond with the management action appropriate to your context while recognizing the near-universal situation: testing is almost always done under extreme time pressure and conditions of uncertainty.


While the target audience for this course is primarily test managers and test leads, we welcome peers of test managers such as development managers and project or program managers, and higher managers interested in testing.


While we offer Rapid Software Testing for Managers on its own, we strongly recommend that you preface it with Rapid Software Testing for you and your test team.


What Will I Learn?

Whether you're experienced or new to test management, we'll explore the challenges of the role and how to work around them:

  • How to plan and prepare a test project when product information is incomplete or unreliable
  • How to estimate and negotiate for the resources you need
  • How to design and defend a rapid, risk-based test strategy
  • How to plan incrementally and apply exploratory testing approaches
  • How to establish a productive relationship with programmers
  • How to be an effective advocate for testability, testing, and quality
  • How to supervise testers and be accountable for their work
  • How to create a diversified team and guide its members toward building skill
  • How to report project status to indicate progress and prompt the right questions


Course Outline

The course is designed to be modular, responding to the issues you're facing in your organizational context.

Classes are typically structured as follows:

  • Rapid Software Testing Basics
  • Project realities that necessitate rapid testing
  • The Rapid Software Testing mindset
  • Thinking like a tester and thinking like a test manager
  • Using heuristics to guide testing
  • Using risk to focus testing
  • Exploratory vs. scripted testing
  • Evolving a Test Plan
  • Using the Context Model to analyze a test situation
  • Negotiating the mission, process, and resources
  • Analyzing risk with heuristics
  • Test cycle dynamics
  • Testing throughout the lifecyle
  • Managing testers every day
  • Key Challenges in Rapid Software Testing Management
  • Accountability: how an exploratory approach is accountable
  • Repeatability: nine reasons to repeat, one big reason not to repeat
  • Documentation: concise documentation is more rapid
  • Status: using a dashboard
  • Staffing: recruiting and developing rapid testers
  • Automation: an agile and diversified approach
  • Developer Relations: how to be the good guy, not the bad guy
  • Metrics: the value of inquiry metrics; the dangers of control metrics
  • Estimation: how to deal with an understandable request to predict the future.
  • Enoughness: how you know when you've done enough testing and have enough quality
  • Outsourcing: how to work in environments where you are offering or obtaining outsourced testing services

What People Are Saying About Rapid Software Testing (RST)


Many thanks to my clients who are willing to share their experiences. For understandable reasons, some of them have asked that I use discretion in identifying them.


"I attended the Rapid Software Testing course with Michael Bolton some time ago (July 2010), in Amsterdam, NL. And attending doesn't mean 'sit back, shut up and listen'. There are challenges, puzzles and a lot—a lot—of interaction. Those three days passed by in a second; not a single dull moment. But most importantly, to this date it has had a profound impact on how I relate and look at the art and craft of testing! Oh.. and the lifetime support is fantastic."

Ray Oei - June, 2012


"The Rapid Software Testing course that I attended in June definitely surpassed my expectations. As an experienced tester I was becoming rather disillusioned of the so called "Tried and True" methods of software testing and was really looking for something that resembled, well, reality. So now, instead of spending my time writing test cases, writing reports that no one reads and chasing down Product Specs and Feature Specs I test. What an amazing concept—have the tester do testing!


It has freed up an enormous amount of time and, therefore, the testing is far more productive. Potential "show stoppers" are being found earlier on in the test schedule and test coverage has also improved greatly. More time is spent on important matters and less time trying to hit a number target (i.e. 90% testing complete, 95% pass rate, etc.)


The focus has returned to the task at hand (testing) and there is less focus on reporting (counting). That also allows for the tester to move into a more co-development role to assist with the implementation of new features and functionality. I'm happy, the Devs are happy, the customer is happy and the boss is happy—Thanks Michael!"


Blair Burke, B.Sc., Software Tester, Print Audit, Inc. - September, 2010.


"Recently I finished a three day training course on Rapid Software Testing with Michael Bolton in London UK. This course was very effective and had elements related to learning, questioning and thinking all along. It reinforced my belief that testing is not a 'phase' performed towards the end or a '100% automated suite' as claimed by many Agile shops. Software testing is much more than that and it is extremely important for the successful delivery of any project... Overall this training and all the discussions we had during the course was an amazing experience. I would highly recommend this training to anyone interested in learning rapid software testing.

Anand Ramdeo, London, UK



"You'll be happy to know that my team has been actively meeting to implement changes for improvement, especially with the dashboard concept and that many of my folks are more engaged with their assignments because of their new outlook on the value they can add."

Leslie Berth, Milwaukee, WI



"Last week I took Rapid Software Testing from Michael Bolton. The three days of stuffing my brain in the beautiful downtown campus of the University of Toronto was loads of fun...If you don't go to play each day, or you don't think you can break the rules, or you simply want to become a better tester, give Rapid Software Testing a try. I think you will find, as I did, that it is three days well spent!"

Michael Hunter (The Braidy Tester), Microsoft , "This is your Brain on RST"



"I thoroughly enjoyed your class on Rapid Software Testing. The more time I have to think about the class the more I find value in it. It has really changed my approach and ideologies around testing. The only thing left now is to get everyone in my office on the same page... Before I thought testing was just a stepping stone to move into development but now that I have more of an appreciation for testers, I think I'm going to stick with it and try to get others to realize how important testers are to software development."

James Swanson, Minneapolis, MN



"We are already starting to put into practice what you taught us—here is a mini case study. Four of the group sat down last Friday and tested another product. Dan (name changed for confidentiality --MB) guided and made suggestions. None of the 4 knew the product under test. The product test lead spent half the day being a live oracle. Results: Another 50 defects. Several were crashes (buffer overrun—thanks Perlclip!). Many UI and usability defects. By the afternoon the team was starting to find more specific defects in what the product should do, but wasn't doing. However, by this time they were getting very baked. This sort of testing is really hard work! However, the product lead was amazed by what was found, and the defects found per hour invested was—once again—orders of magnitude more effective than the testing that was currently going on with the product. We are going to cycle this much more frequently, and the same four are going to dig deeper on the same product later this week as well."

A test manager at a commercial utility software company, somewhere in Canada



"The training was a great exposure to a lot of different concepts and methods of attacking problems, and the rapid testing strategy looks to be very useful. On Thursday a support issue came into the group that fell in one of my feature areas, so I replied. I did a little work before lunch, and while out at lunch I thought that this would be a time to try some of the rapid testing methods. Took about 10 minutes, noted steps and thoughts as I was going, and arrived at a cause and possible solution much quicker than I would have in the past."

A recent student

Personal Endorsements - Michael Bolton


"I've known Michael for over 10 years, from his days at Quarterdeck forward. I've designed courseware with him, written documents with him, designed tests, worked through management issues and technical issues, done difficult ethical analyses with him--I would trust Michael with my Social Security Number and my mother's maiden name. And if I was too sick to meet a consulting or teaching obligation, I would feel confident that if Michael agreed to go in my place, he'd handle it so well that the client would be happy they hired me (and got him)."


Cem Kaner, Author of Testing Computer Software and Lessons Learned in Software Testing



"I met Michael in person for the first time at the EuroStar conference 2007. Before that I have been in contact with him through continuously emails e.g. asking him for advice or guidance in tricky test situations. At EuroStar I asked him if it would be possible to have him perform the RST course for our test team at our site, UIQ Technology in Ronneby, Sweden. Michael was visiting us in April this year (2008) and his visit was definitely a success if you ask me and our test team. Michael is one of the best lecturers I ever met. He's knowledgeable, funny, witty and very interesting. Whether you need a great test strategist, someone to teach you everything there is to know about the different sides about testing, a great test oracle or just a friend I will always recommend Michael. I also highly recommend Michael if your company is ready to take it to the next level and e.g. raise visibility of the required need for a balance between scripted tests and the exploratory testing approach."


Petter Mattsson, Ronneby, Sweden



"Michael is a born teacher. He is a very engaging and an effective speaker who knows his topic inside and out—a rare combination!"


QA Manager, Boulder, CO



"This course was highly informative and Michael was excellent in providing examples from real life."


Quality Assurance Analyst, Nashville TN



"Michael is an exceptional teacher with extreme knowledge and commitment to this topic."


Network Specialist, Toronto, ON

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