Agile methods.jpg
The use of agile methods is growing and is delivering better results

More and more organisations are implementing agile methodologies in order to increase their rate and success of delivery on IT projects. Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and DSDM, focus on delivering to fixed time, cost and quality. This is achieved, in part, by varying the volume of delivered features through prioritisation and negotiation. As a result organisations deliver more on time and budget. A recent publication from McKinsey & Company highlights the benefits that the application of agile methodologies can bring.

“When comparing application-development methodologies, we found that agile practices help control costs as well as delivery time. Banks that apply agile methodologies to less than a quarter of their projects deliver 70 percent of projects on budget and 55 percent on time. In contrast, banks that use agile in more than half of their projects deliver 96 percent of projects on budget and 79 percent on time.”
How winning banks refocus their IT budgets for digital

Testers need to adapt to new challenges

Testers in agile have to move away from more familiar waterfall based approaches and adapt to the flavour of agile on the project. Testing can no longer be expected to progress according to designated levels, predefined in a set of documents and delivered by a hierarchy of test managers, test leads and test analysts. To be successful on agile projects, testers must be able to focus their effort according to priority, work collaboratively within development teams and align to methodologies that value “working software over comprehensive documentation”. This is a challenge that not all testers can meet.

When involved in key activities like product backlog refinement, sprint planning, defining done and story estimation the tester will not have a complete view of the entire solution. It is more likely that they have a detailed view of only the current and subsequent sprint. This means that understanding of dependencies and interfaces within the solution grows in line with the development of the solution itself. Previously delivered increments may have to be revisited and retested as both the solution and tester’s understanding develops

The objective of delivering working product increments at the end of each sprint can mean that the tester has to scale down several test approaches, that in waterfall would be spread across multiple test levels, and apply them within a single time bound sprint. Testers need to have a broader experience of the testing process encompassing, component testing, systems testing, integration testing and UAT rather than being a specialist in one area.

And focus on contribution and collaboration rather than process and documentation

Agile teams are collaborative, self-organising and cross functional. Testers need to work closely with other team members of differing roles, backgrounds and skills to agree what and how to deliver in each sprint. They also have to be flexible as not all the tasks they will undertake within a sprint may be confined to just testing. Some testing may also be done by people who do not consider themselves testers and so your tester has to be able to share their expertise to benefit the whole team. Within a self-contained, self-organising team the tester is test manager, lead and analyst as well as anything else they are asked to be.

Within agile, it is what the individual can contribute to the delivery process that is important rather than the process being the thing that defines the contribution that the individual will make.

Contact acutest