Agile Impacts To Testers

Agile Impacts To Testers

Many companies are adopting Agile Methodology. Implementing Agile methods will enable you to deliver software faster in smaller and more manageable increments. Agile is a big shift from traditional Waterfall. In a Waterfall process, tasks are done sequentially and tasks cannot be completed until the prior task is done. In a Waterfall process, some form of requirements are obtained, followed by analysis, followed by design work, followed by development, followed by testing, followed by a release. This process then repeats.

In an Agile methodology, development and testing are executed in parallel. In a Waterfall process, testers will typically get a lot of requirements and design documentation. Testers can read through the documentation and use the software. Testers in a Waterfall process can create test cases and scenarios using documentation that has been created (although documentation maybe outdated by the time they get it). In an Agile methodology, documentation can be scarce and testers are faced with testing non fully functional software. Testers in an Agile methodology often feel lost and are often overwhelmed by not receiving enough written information. Also testers in an Agile methodology, need to actually talk to developers and this might be uncomfortable to some testers. In a Waterfall methodology, you don’t need to talk to developers. In Agile, communication is the key to success.

What to Expect as an Agile Tester

  • Expect to be involved from the beginning: In an Agile methodology, testers are more involved upfront. Testers are part of the Development Team and they are called upon to participate in the planning and development discussions. As a tester, your ideas and comments matter. You will truly be a part of a team and your ideas and comments are essential to the success of the project. Be prepared to collaborate with developers and share your ideas and thoughts.
  • Expect how you test will change. In a Waterfall methodology, test automation was typically something you do when there is spare time (which usually there is not). In Agile, test automation is the key to success. Whatever you don’t automate will eventually slow down the team. An Agile tester can start as a manual tester but you will soon find that you will eventually need to gain some test automation skills such as Selenium, HP UFT, SikuliSpecflow, or Cucumber. Manual testing is done through exploratory testing. The more that you can automate, the more time you have to perform exploratory testing.
  • Expect greater collaboration. You will need to quell your fears in talking with developers. Testers and developers are partners. You cannot succeed unless testers and developers can talk and collaborate with each other. You may be asked to sit down with a developer and review code. In the Waterfall methodology, Block Box testing was predominately used. In Agile, more White Box testing methods are incorporated.
  • Expect less, get more. Expect that you will get less documentation but you will gain better understanding by communicating with development and other testers. Agile is about a team not about an individual. Yes, you will not get the same level of documentation as in a Waterfall process. However, with you being involved upfront and before any code is written, you will understand more.
  • Expect greater team cooperation. In an Agile team, the whole team succeeds or fails. It’s not an individual thing. Be honest with your team when you experience issues or need more time. Team members should be able to help you.

What can a tester do to cope with a new Agile process?

  1. Embrace the change. Understand that moving from waterfall to Agile requires change – not only with testers but the whole company. The more that you embrace the change and think positive about the change, the faster you can start to be happier and more productive. People do not like change because they spend too much time thinking about what they can loose rather than thinking about what they can gain. They spend too much time overvaluing what they have and do not think about what value they can gain.
  2. Focus on the positive. Moving to Agile methodology is a positive thing. I should know, I have gone through it. My company started out as a Waterfall process and I had to cope with moving me and my staff to the Agile process. I did not know what to expect. At the time, Agile was new concept. I did not have a blog like this one to help me to get through the challenges. As an Agile tester, you will get be involved early in the process. Your feedback is valued. You will feel part of team and developers will appreciate you finding defects that would end up in production. As an Agile Tester, you will have a voice as part of the team.
  3. Change your thinking. To be a good Agile tester, change your thinking to expect what you get is broken until proven to work. When you get code from a developer, expect that it is broken until you can prove it to work. Think like the customer. If you are the customer, what would they say about the product? How will they use the product? What features are important to them? You will become the “last line of defense” for the customer.
  4. Ask. If you don’t know something, ask. Get your questions answered.
Alden Mallare

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