Project Management

Finding Agile Testers: Dos and Don’ts

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 and say hello on Twitter @can_test.

One common failure pattern in creating agile development teams is taking a regular software tester, assigning them to the new team and expecting them to perform in new ways that elevate the team to high performance.

This is a false hope. Under pressure, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” [1] Your average tester will fall back on their waterfall processes, tools and artifacts, and introduce inertia that will inevitably slow the team’s progress.

Where do regular testers start from?
The Manifesto for Agile Software Development [2] states that we value:

Individuals and interactions


Processes and tools

Working software


Comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration


Contract negotiation

Responding to change


Following a plan

So, we expect an agile team to spend more time doing activities on the left. Testers, however, have their training and mindset clearly rooted in activities on the right. That is, testers have established testing processes and specific tools (“this is the way we’ve always done it”) to help them be efficient in their functional/…

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"Nearly every great advance in science arises from a crisis in the old theory, through an endeavor to find a way out of the difficulties created. We must examine old ideas, old theories, although they belong to the past, for this is the only way to understand the importance of the new ones and the extent of their validity."

- Albert Einstein