The Agile/Scrum methodology is increasingly being applied in the development and management of systems. The objective is to make new or modified software available to the business more frequently. This is done in scrum teams with short cycles (these are called "sprints"). It is an important task for the scrum teams to test the changes properly. Compared to a classic waterfall method, the Agile/Scrum method delivers added value to the business much more quickly. That is a major advantage. Are you considering starting agile in which testing will play an important role? But you do not know what to think of? No problem at all. Based on our experiences and insights, we have put together three focus points that are important to keep in mind when testing in an Agile environment. There will be a series of 3 blogs discussing these three focus points. In this blog: the importance of all-round testers.
Within a scrum team, testing is very important, but unfortunately testing is usually under great pressure. Experience shows that there is often still a lot of testing to be done at the end of a sprint. It is experienced that the emphasis is on meeting the planned results (commitment of the team). It is then often an obvious choice to keep the testing to a minimum by, for example, only testing the "happy flows". The moment these tests are successful, the "Definition of Done" will be met and the sprint can be delivered. Customer happy, team happy, everybody happy.
But no, it is not like that. Appearances are deceiving. From experience, we can say that most scrum teams do not maintain this way of testing for long. This may sound familiar to you. The result is that the team itself ends up paying the price for insufficient testing. Production problems follow and need to be solved. And as you might have guessed, this is where a large part of the time is spent.
And that is not the intention, because the main focus should be on developing solutions that the business is waiting for.
This is exactly the reason why a thorough test approach within the scrum team is a rock-solid necessity, led by an all-round tester. This tester has a lot of knowledge of and experience with testing, Agile work, business processes and test tools.
Of course, the all-round tester must be able to test well himself, but even more important is the fact that he helps others within the team with testing. The organisation of testing is often overlooked within scrum teams. Little time is spent on preparing and working out scripts. It must be clear that sufficient testing has been done within each test type. Regression testing is typically a test that is important, but for which little attention is paid within a small team. The experienced tester can set this up and coordinate with testers within other teams.
The ultimate goal of Agile working is to deliver added value for the business. And added value almost always means that the business can do its work better: more efficiently and/or more effectively. It is a great advantage if the tester knows the business processes and has a helicopter view. In this way, the tester has an overview and can make adjustments where necessary to ensure that all tests fit together properly. This will ultimately produce a better result. A tester who knows the business processes well also supports the business better when performing acceptance tests.
Testing within an Agile environment cannot be compared to testing within the traditional waterfall method. We are mainly talking about the phasing of testing. If you choose to work Agile, it means that you need to be able to respond quickly to what is happening in the team or the environment. This also affects testing. Testing follows the dynamic environment closely, which must result in thorough testing (documented or not). A task for the all-round tester within the team to constantly draw attention to this.
Finally, it is good to know that soft skills are of great importance when we talk about the all-round tester. Of course, knowledge and experience is important, but the tester must also be able to communicate well and be accountable to the Product Owner and the business. He or she must constantly demand attention for testing, help the team members with testing and motivate the team. Soft skills in combination with a great sense of responsibility are important, because when production issues come up, the conclusion is quickly drawn: poor testing. Our experience shows that it is a smart move to have an all-round tester within the team.
Good testing within a scrum team is impossible without support from tools. Both in terms of managing the testing and automating the execution. In the next blog "Testing First Aid in Agile: robust test automation" this will be discussed in more detail.
This is the first tip of the 3-series "First Aid for Testing in Agile Environment".
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