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A Tester’s Observations in an Agile Environment

Following are my comments on ‘A Tester’s Observations in an Agile Environment’ in Software Testing & Quality Assurance group in Linkedin

I have seen successful and failed agile environments. Problems occur when fundamentals are compromised.

Agile approach has put focus back on individuals, rather than process/documentation; quite rightly so.

Therefore, success in agile approach depends on motivation (very critical) and skill levels of individuals involved, team synergy and agility, and very short feedback/correction cycles. Quite ironically though, I have seen in many such projects go on downward spiral with process (I do not mean documentation here) getting ritualistic and viscosity setting in the team (may be, a human tendency). This happens over time, as project complexity increases, defeating the very foundation on which agile approach is built. Given the above, I consider effect on testing is natural and incidental, though disastrous; meaning, root of the problem lies elsewhere. I consider this tendency fatal, unless immediate remedial steps are taken.

I had been asking a stock question to many agile teams that I have come across. Question is, does you testers ACTIVELY participate in the meetings. On probing (and, only on probing), it comes out that testers participate but participation is rather ritualistic. They do not dare to ask uncomfortable questions. It is important to ask uncomfortable questions, even if sugarcoated, and get answers to those questions. After all, no one else but only testers can claim to know the software as it is (rather than, what it should be/have been), its shortcomings/pitfalls, testability issues

It does not matter to me, as a tester, whether answers (to the uncomfortable questions that I ask) come to me as documents or it comes from discussions but if answers not coming from project team, irrespective of methodologies, project is running on dangerous track.

Then, it is time for a serious jolt; a jolt from above. If jolt does not occur naturally, it needs to be made to happen. In my experience, I find that someone, somewhere is always listening. But we need to set alarm bell ringing!

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January 8, 2009 - Posted by | Agile, Agile testing, Functional testing, software engineering, Software Testing, Testing

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