Wednesday, March 16, 2005

On Wednesday morning Elisabeth Hendrickson of Quality Tree (www.qualitytree.com) is giving a talk entitled Agile QA? which describes how QA teams can work effectively with agile development teams. Not only is this possible, it's absolutely critical to your success (IMHO). Should be an interesting talk, and I'll add comments as the talk progresses.

8:15 AM

39 comments:

at 8:47 AM Scott W, Ambler said...

Interesting points made:
1. Agile isn't a buzzword, it's a way of working which focuses on business value.
2. There is a relentless focus on high-value activities.
3. If you want to go fast, you need to do things well. If you're not doing things well, you'll go slow.
4. Calling something agile doesn't make it so.
5. There is rarely a code freeze on traditional projects, it's really a "code slush".
6. Agile says "let's collaborate". Traditional ideas such as quality gates, strict entrance and exit criteria, protecting users from the "depredations of those evil programmers" are the exact opposite. The traditional techniques evolved to deal with the realities of serial development approaches where the QA/test time gets squeezed at the end of the lifecycle.
7. Everyone tests on an agile team, you'll actually do more testing as a result.
8. Agile practices don't provide the CYA paper trails that managers have to have in high-blame, high-fear environments.

at 9:04 AM Scott W, Ambler said...

More interesting points:
1. The QA role is shifting from "we're here to protect the hapless user" to "we're here to support the team."
2. Change is going to happen, accept this fact and facilitate it instead of trying to manage/prevent it.
3. Plan as you go (see www.ambysoft.com/essays/agileProjectPlanning.html for some thoughts)
4. If an artifact is not an end product which your stakeholders don't see, it should be considered waste. Focus on minimizing documentat (see www.agilemodeling.com/essays/agileDocumentation.htm)
5. Design your test artifacts for maintainability. If a feature was to be changed, how many test artifacts would you need. See the concept single sourcing information (www.agilemodeling.com/essays/singleSourceInformation.htm).
6. You need to adopt tools designed for change.
7. Don't use test planning templates if you don't understand what the templates include. You'll only create a complex, hard-to-maintain, and relatively useless plan.
8. A little planning is good, more is not better. Plan in detail for the current iteration, in breadth for the future.
9. Keep an up-to-date, prioritized risks list.
10. Have a strategy that fits on one page. If it's still relevant in 6 months, it's probably at the right level of detail.
11. Informal documentation tools, such as whiteboards, post it notes, index cards, and wikis are preferable to formal documentation tools such as databases and polished documents. The more formal you get, the harder it is to work with the tools, the slower you'll go, and the less effective you'll be. See www.agilemodeling.com/essays/inclusiveModels.htm

at 9:25 AM Scott W, Ambler said...

Even more interesting points:
1. Capture the essence in your documents, not the details.
2. Point to other project documents, don't repeat the information (e.g. single source information).
3. Centralize generic tests in a checklist. Describing a test more than once is two much. Someone in the audience calls them "Did I remember to?" lists.
4. The signoff process is often more about blame that producing good software. IMHO, signoffs/handoffs are a process smell.
5. Testing is not a phase, it's a way of life.
6. You need to co-locate testers and programmers.
7. Sitting two feet from someone doesn't guarantee communication, you still need to work at it.
8. Track your testing status as well as your programming status (e.g. features delivered) together.
9. On agile teams the developers have their head around the emerging design, the testers have their heads around the emerging risks.

at 9:44 AM Scott W, Ambler said...

Yet more interesting points:
1. Automated system tests cover end-to-end sequences. Unit tests detect unintended change, don't substitute one for the other.
2. Automate everything you can, but invest wisely.
3. If activities you are performing are no longer providing information, e.g. your tests are always passing, then find new ways to provide information.
4. Agile testers also write code, they can set up the conditions that they need to write their own test harnesses. IMHO, effective agilists are generalizing specialists with a wide range of skills. See www.agilemodeling.com/essays/generalizingSpecialists.htm
5. Agile QA is all about communication and collaboration. You need to work closely with developers and customoers.
6. You need whole team thinking.
7. Testers/QA are involved in the project early. If the project has started, you should be there.
8. The focus is on providing rapid feedback to key stakeholders.
9. If feedback comes too fast it can sometimes force you to go slower. Early feedback can prevent feedback.
10. You want to collaborate with programmers to improve testability and leverage test efforts.

at 8:34 AM Devans00 said...

Very nice overview. I think 90% of what you wrote can apply to most team members.

Thanks,
Debra

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