Which Role does Testing Play in an Agile Development Organisation?

Last Thursday, I had a session on Agile Testing at the QualityConf in Munich. It was a first-time event, intended ...

2 April 2011
Scrum, Scrum & XP, agile
agile, quality, scrum, tester, testing

Last Thursday, I had a session on Agile Testing at the QualityConf in Munich. It was a first-time event, intended for intensive exchange of the HP QualityCenter user community. My talk was a bit off-topic, as I was not talking about software tools, but about organisational change.

Not knowing what level of experience with Agile to expect from that audience was a bit of a challenge for my talk preparation. I chose to create a presentation with a strong focus on two topics: Why is Agile a good solution for 21st century software projects? How does “Agile Build Quality In” and what do I have to expect to change as a Tester?

I filled the first part with sufficient level of detail and nice pictures so that I could easily adapt the pace depending on the level of experience and interest. For the second part, I reckoned, that those with experience in Agile would come up with good questions to discuss...

Set the Stage

But how to assess the level of experience of an audience quickly enough to fit into a 45min session and detailed enough to give me relevant information about what the people were actually interested in?

I went for a Myths & Facts exercise we use to kick-off trainings. I brought a lot of post-its (which gave me a good opener: “You’ve heard that Agile guys are those plastering the walls with stickies—now you’ll see how that works!”) and let them gather statements they had heard or learned on the walls in four groups. As the rest of the conference was full-frontal presentations, and my session was shortly after lunch, this was a good move to raise interest and keep them awake:-)

In roughly 15min, we got an amazing list of statements and some interesting topics to explain and discuss later. That made the actual presentation more lively and relevant to me as well as the participants!


These are the slides I used:


Having only five minutes left for the closing discussion, the track chair opted for a 10 minute extension. Nobody left, so I knew I had hit something... Questions we discussed: How and when to create the acceptance criteria for the user storys Which and how much documentation to write Does every developer need to become a tester and vice versa? Who’s responsible for the Definition of Done and what can be done when the team (devs only) decided not to test? * Do we still need an integration and/or testing phase before releasing the product?

Results of these discussions might turn up as topics of later posts, so stay tuned. Thanks to all participants for their input and enthusiasm, I’ll be glad to be invited again next year!

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