The QA process in agile differs greatly from QA in traditional testing, such as in Waterfall. Agile has changed the way we think of software quality. In fact, I have read rumblings in the blogosphere that Agile has killed QA. I promise you Quality Assurance is alive and well on agile teams. It just looks different than what most of us are used to. I think people who have promoted the “death” of QA in agile are not looking closely enough at what is really happening. Traditionally, testing was the only task people associated with measuring quality.
The Hare and the Tortoise (or The Tortoise and the Hare, since that is what people told me it was called when I was young) is a fable attributed to Aesop, an ancient Greek storyteller. For those of you who are not familiar with it, a hare challenges a tortoise to a race. The hare, in his overconfidence, decides to take a nap when he gets close to the finish line. The tortoise plods along, eventually passing the hare, and wins the race. The moral of the story is: slow and steady wins the race.
Once upon a time, in the land of Waterfall, the business analysts wrote the requirements, the developers coded the requirements and the Testers tested the requirements. Each of these people sat in his/her ivory tower, um, silo and did that which they had always done since the beginning of time. Quality was thought to be synonymous with testing, and therefore was considered to exist solely in the Tester’s realm.
Are you an experienced tester who has recently joined an agile team? Maybe you have testing experience but until now it has only been on traditional waterfall projects. Are you going through the motions with this new way of doing things but don’t feel like you’re completely invested? Do you even feel like you’re adding value to your team?
My friend and colleague, Shaun Bradshaw, and I were coaching recently at a client. We started to have a conversation about velocity, not directly driven by the clients’ context, but in general.
Shaun was focused on velocity as a relevant metric within agile teams to drive conversations between teams and upper management, and I was struggling to get there.
Part of his focus was to create visibility around the difference between average velocity and current sprint velocity. Furthermore, the teams and management would be able to see:
I’ve been doing more pairing lately. Much more. But, more specifically pair-coaching.
I’ve been pairing in my conference workshops and talks, quite a bit, with Mary Thorn on the agile quality and testing side of things. I’m also pairing with Josh Anderson on our Meta-cast and I’ve done a few presentations with him. Very enjoyable.
I’ve also been pairing more in my writing. For years, I’ve been a lone wolf writer. Nobody but myself saw my writing before it entered the light of day. Now, I’m learning the value of having reviewers and editors. Second opinions matter. A second set of eyes matter. Having a partner in your endeavors can be quite a bit of fun.
In my agile coaching and training journey, I spend a lot of time discussing a wide variety of topics. But certain themes form a Top 10 topics list everyone seems interested in.
One of those items is how to handle bugs. I get questions like:
Do you estimate bugs (planning poker – points)?
Are bugs equivalent to stories?
When do you file a bug while sprinting?
Do you count bugs as part of your velocity?
Can you deliver a story in a sprint with bugs still open?
A few years back I was coaching a large group of Scrum teams at an email marketing SaaS firm. The group had been practicing Scrum for over four years and had become a high-performance agile organization. Most of my efforts focused on fine-tuning from the perspective of an external set of eyes. Working with this organization and its development teams was a privilege.
I remember the threatening email as if I had received it yesterday. I was in my home office on a Saturday when it showed up in my inbox, a message from one of the world’s leading scrum trainers and coaches. Basically, he threatened my certifications in the email unless I “ceased and desisted” talking about hardening sprints.