Are Your Agile Testers Fish Out of Water?

Paul Carvalho is dedicated to helping development teams deliver high levels of quality with confidence. He inspires collaborative, agile, test-infected teams with a holistic approach to quality. Paul launched the company, Quality Driven Inc, to bring his quality development experience and knowledge to individuals and organizations through consulting, training, coaching, writing and speaking internationally. Paul is passionate about understanding human ecosystems for delivering great products that satisfy and delight customers, which he finds to be a natural fit with the agile community. Connect with him through Quality-Driven.com and say hello on Twitter @can_test.

One question I am asked most often is: “How do we use our traditional testers on an agile team?” There are many levels to this question. If we skip the political niceties, the short answer is: You don’t. The problem isn’t with the individuals; rather, it’s with the pre-agile organization environment you hired these people into that has now radically changed. Impact: Their current skills may not be valuable—and even prove to be counter-productive—in an agile context.

For example, let’s say you run a catering business and you hire a good pastry chef. Let’s say that an event comes up and you need someone to provide a fantastic barbecue meal. Well, you have a chef, and a chef is a chef, so they should be able to do a great job, right? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s be fair to the pastry chef—you changed the expectations and environment, so their expertise is not the expertise you need now.

Do you know what expertise you need now, as you enter into an agile development environment? Unfortunately, we use the same word (“testing”) in agile, but it means something different from what you have seen and managed in prior non-agile projects. If your testers are writing test cases, tracking testing progress and recording bugs in a separate defect tracking system, stop now; you are using the wrong people to do the …

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