Agile Test Strategy: When Scrumming, People Do Testing Wrong

Posted by Danny Crone on 19/04/2016
Danny Crone
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So I get to see lots of different organisations all trying to implement Scrum to varying levels, several themes come out:

Firstly, testers are sometimes excluded from certain activities/events or aren’t given an equal voice in the team. Sometimes they don’t understand that they have an equal voice that needs to be heard. The “Development Team” is supposed to be cross-functional which means that it should have testing or testers in it, don’t get me started on why we decided to call it the “Development” team.

For the Development Team there is training in the form of “Professional Scrum Developer Courses” in various different development language flavours and as suggested by Scrum.orAgile Test Strategy: When Scrumming, People Do Testing Wrongg, the subject areas include Quality Domain, of which one sub area is testing. There are 3 books recommended, and only one of those is truly about testing, there are approximately 14 books recommended that map onto coding, this speaks volumes. My concern here is that while there is emphasis on Quality Assurance through testing in the small like unit, TDD and BDD, little emphasis is placed on testing in the large like functional system, system integration and End to End testing to mention just a few. We need to engage our experience of testing into the Development team and expand the teams horizon as far as testing is concerned.

I have even come across development teams with testers in them where the testers are told not to document any tests as that would slow up the teams velocity, really?! At this point, I bring into play the reason why a sprint is a maximum of 4 weeks or 1 calendar month; it is because you can remember what you had for Sunday lunch last weekend, possibly the week before that but about 4 weeks is the max you can remember in terms of Sunday lunches. Regression testing becomes ultra-important when you have a product that is being used/paid for by the customer, and if they are not documented and you are 40 sprints into the product, how does anyone recall how to test stuff from sprint 1?

Secondly, quality gates in Scrum are not talked about, so do they exist or not? The answer is of course that they do exist, it is just that we call it something different, we now call it the Definition of Done(DOD). Testers should have confidence in extending the DOD to include all of those things we used to call exit criteria. The thing to note here is that the DOD goes across all sprints but should evolve over time. There are also times in sprints when specific features are being implemented that require special treatment, and that might involve a specialised type of testing not relevant to future sprints. The best place to put this type of exit criteria is in the definition of Product Backlog Item (PBI) or User Story and can be added to the acceptance criteria. So the exit criteria for the sprint is the DOD plus the acceptance criteria from all of the PBI’s in the sprint.

In the absence of a “Professional Scrum Developer – Tester Specialism” course testers need to bring all of their test experience to the team and have the confidence that their opinion matters.

nFocus have helped a wide range of organisations deliver successful Agile Test Strategy and Agile projects. We can help with an Agile Health Check, or provide testing professionals to augment your current Agile teams. Our team come equipped with the necessary skills and tools to ensure a successful project delivery. This can be particularly helpful when trying to overcome a peak in requirements, or simply to help improve testing maturity within the Agile team. 

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Topics: Agile,, Scrum, Testing, Agile Test Strategy

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