Pairing for Manual Configuration Tasks

During her talk last week at CAST, Natalie Bennett dropped a random tip that seems so straightforward, yet it’s not common practice anywhere I’ve worked.

The backstory: while we try to script and automate as many repetitive tasks as possible, there are any number of manual configuration tasks that are part of software development. Perhaps it’s the initial configuration of a server, or the creation of an account. The fact these tasks are done manually leaves them prone to human error, and sometimes these errors aren’t easily detected.

The other backstory: we know of pair programming, where two developers sit together to work on a bit of code, putting two brains into the design and hopefully catching errors as they occur rather than later in the process.

The solution: combine the two ideas, and when there’s manual configuration work to be done, pair for the work.

Duh. So simple, yet so smart.

CAST Vancouver, BC: Coming Soon

I’m looking forward to attending CAST next month in Vancouver, BC, which will be my first time at this particular conference. I’ve heard lots of good things from past attendees, and I look forward to what seems like a very practical lineup of folks talking bout real-world testing issues in an interactive environment.

I’ll be arriving on Sunday and attending James Bach and Fiona Charles’ tutorials on Monday.

I may try to organize some sort of Sunday evening gathering for craft beer lovers – keep an eye on Twitter.