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Agile Testing Days 2014 Keynote - Helping Testers Add Value on Agile Projects

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Every Agile project is different, we know this, we don’t do things ‘by the book’ on Agile projects. We learn, we interact, we change, we write the book we go along. Throughout all of this, testing needs to remain viable, and it needs to add value. Remaining viable in this kind of environment can be hard.

Fortunately, we can learn to add value. In this keynote, Alan will describe some of the approaches and models he has used to help testing remain viable. Helping testers analyze the ‘system of development’ so the test approach can target process risks. Helping testers harness their own unique skills and approaches. The attitudes that the testing process often needs to have driving it, and the skill sets that teams need to ensure are applied to their testing.

At a simple level, this is just Systems Thinking and Modeling. In practice this can prove highly subversive and deliberately provocative. Because we’re not talking about ‘fitting in’, we’re talking about survival.

Published in: Software

Agile Testing Days 2014 Keynote - Helping Testers Add Value on Agile Projects

  1. 1. 1 Helping Testers Add Value to Agile Projects Alan Richardson EvilTester.com @eviltester SeleniumSimplified.com JavaForTesters.com CompendiumDev.co.uk
  2. 2. 2 Warren Zevon (1947 - 2003) “Ain't that pretty at all”, The Envoy, 1982
  3. 3. 3 We can get Jaded & Disillusioned Well, I've seen all there is to see And I've heard all they have to say I've done everything I wanted to do . . . I've done that too Warren Zevon, “Ain't that pretty at all”, 1982 “ ”
  4. 4. 4 Reality doesn't match our wants And it ain't that pretty at all. Ain't that pretty at all. “ ” Warren Zevon, “Ain't that pretty at all”, 1982
  5. 5. 5 We may not have strategies to cope So I'm going to hurl myself against the wall 'Cause I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all “ ” Warren Zevon, “Ain't that pretty at all”, 1982
  6. 6. 6 Sometimes my job... I've been to Paris And it ain't that pretty at all I've been to Rome Guess what? “ ” Warren Zevon, “Ain't that pretty at all”, 1982
  7. 7. 7 … the real world is what it is And sometimes it ain't that pretty at all
  8. 8. 8 I help testers survive in Agile Projects ● …by working with 'reality' rather than an ideal ● ...by adding 'value' ● ...by becoming a viable part of the project The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, Volume 1, IDW Publishing
  9. 9. 9 Thank you for everything, Westley, good night now, I'll probably kill you in the morning. The Dread Pirate Roberts, as quoted by S. Morgenstern, in “The Princess Bride”, abridged by William Goldman for text and screen page 165, 1976, Pan Books Ltd ” “
  10. 10. 10 “I'm here to make you look good”
  11. 11. 11 “I'm here to make you look good” not
  12. 12. 12 “I'm here to make you look good” not side-effect
  13. 13. 13 If you do this automatically, then keep doing it, because you do it, but don't start thinking it adds value, or helps you fit in. Survival != Fitting In ● Lunching ● Raconteur ● Buying Doughnuts ● <insert fluffy people stuff> ● ...etc.
  14. 14. 14 Survival == Adding Value by Doing Testing Stuff ● Finding problems ● Checking Acceptance Criteria ● Testing ● Making your Test Coverage Visible ● Pairing on ATDD ● …etc.
  15. 15. 15 We survive when we learn to adapt to the System Of Development ...we already know how to work with the System Under Development The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, Volume 1, IDW Publishing
  16. 16. 16 “I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall” Annie Edson Taylor, after surviving her Niagra Falls Waterfall Barrel Drop http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036008/1901-10-25/ed-1/seq-1/
  17. 17. 17 I Survived Waterfall ● By removing waste ● By responding to need, not want ● By exploring more ● By taking responsibility for my testing rather than conforming to 'the process'
  18. 18. 18 I must create a system. or be enslav'd by another Mans; I will not reason & compare: my business is to create William Blake, 1820 Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/object.xq?objectid=jerusalem.e.illbk.10&java=no “ ”
  19. 19. 19 I remember a time before I worked on an Agile Project ● Based on reading the hype: the books, the articles, etc. I sooooo wanted out of Waterfall. – … the utopia – … the ideal ● Building the 'beliefs' about how Agile works ● Building 'models' of the ideal process
  20. 20. 20 I remember the first time I worked on an 'Agile' Project
  21. 21. 21 I remember the first time I worked on an 'Agile' Project And it ain't that pretty at all. Ain't that pretty at all. ” “
  22. 22. 22 I Got Stuck
  23. 23. 23 Stuck on... ● Being asked to write a test strategy ● 'Poor' Stories and Acceptance Criteria ● Pairing badly on TDD ● Not knowing how to add value around the automated tests ● Knowing that no-one else knew what to do with a 'tester' on the team – I thought there was something 'special' about Agile – I thought “they'd” know
  24. 24. 24 So I did what I always do...
  25. 25. 25 So I did what I always do... ...try to take over the world! “ ” Pinky and 'The Brain' http://www.warnervideo.com/pinkyandthebrain/downloads/pinkydvd2_2_1280x1024.jpg
  26. 26. 26 So I did what I always do... ...think about it as a system...
  27. 27. 27 I think, I work with systems... e.g. ● Software Systems ● People Systems – Individuals, Teams, Departments, etc. ● Tools & Support Systems ● Processes Input, Output, Process, Relationships, Feedback, Fitness for Survival, etc.
  28. 28. 28 What I did ● My Java knowledge wasn't good enough to add value when pairing with devs, so I improved my Java knowledge ● My TDD knowledge wasn't very good, so I built some code using TDD ● I didn't understand the technology we were using, so I researched the technology I made myself comfortable pairing, working on, and reading the code base
  29. 29. 29 What I did ● I looked close – at the existing TDD code to look for gaps. Then manually tested gap or added more JUnit code ● I looked far – What does the system do? How do we know it does? – What do the requirements want? Do they get it? – What do we think we had 'Done'? Had we? – How does this thing connect? Together. With Others. – Added automation with wider scope
  30. 30. 30 What I did ● Made my 'thinking' visible in the wiki ● Made my 'testing' visible by adding work and notes in the tracking system ● Looked for new tools to help me 'see' the System working No-one else knew what testing was supposed to look like, or do, so I made it visible.
  31. 31. 31 What I did ● Considered 'risks' that the stories didn't cover – Performance – Multiple Users – Extreme Data ● Then targeted those 'risks' with 'testing'
  32. 32. 32 So I did what I always did... ● map 'test process' around existing processes ● I improved my specific skills for the project ● I filled in gaps – asked questions about requirements – automation coverage ...I decided what to do.
  33. 33. 33 I got hung up on 'Agile'. And I got stuck. When I viewed it as a System, I got free.
  34. 34. 34 I decided what to do ● Ignoring the expectations I had from 'Agile' ● I worked with what was currently happening ● 'Beliefs', 'Ideals', 'Research', 'Discussion' all help decide what to do next, and how to improve, but not what to do 'now' ● To work with 'now' I modelled the process as a 'system', with 'relationships', expectations, aims etc.
  35. 35. 35 With Experience I learned... ● “Every Agile project is different, we know this, we don't do things 'by the book' on Agile projects. ● We learn, we interact, we change. ● We write the book we go along. ● Throughout all of this, testing needs to remain viable, and it needs to add value. ● Remaining viable in this kind of environment can be hard.”
  36. 36. 36 With Experience I learned... That, while I value on the items on the right, I value the items on the left more. ● Systems Thinking ● Cybernetics ● General Semantics ● Hypnosis ● Brief Therapy ● Chinese Strategy Philosophy ● Agile Books ● Agile Blogs ● Agile Webinars & Lectures ● Agile Articles ● Lean Software Books, Blogs, etc.
  37. 37. 37 With Experience I learned... That, while I value on the items on the right, I value the items on the left more. ● Systems Thinking ● Cybernetics ● General Semantics ● Hypnosis ● Brief Therapy ● Chinese Strategy Philosophy ● Agile Books ● Agile Blogs ● Agile Webinars & Lectures ● Agile Articles ● Lean Software Books, Blogs, etc. Loot, Pillage, Raid and Steal from other disciplines
  38. 38. 38 I still have “beliefs” about Agile ● Flexible ● More Open to Suggestion ● More Free to Experiment ● Etc.
  39. 39. 39 But do not call me a QA I do not like that name QA, I do not like it, not at all, QA we do not say. “Tester!”, I do say, “It describes me bester, and how I play” So its far bester, to say tester, And do not call me a QA http://seuss.wikia.com/wiki/File:GREEN-EGGS.jpg QA
  40. 40. 40 “I've Helped Testers Survive on Agile Projects” ● New Testers (inexperienced) ● Experienced Testers New To Agile ● Experienced Agile Testers ● Mostly by: dealing with their beliefs and expectations, adapting their techniques
  41. 41. 41 To the creative mind there is no right or wrong. Every action is an experiment, and every experiment yields its fruit in knowledge. The Illuminatus Trilogy Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson “ ”
  42. 42. 42 I try to foster an attitude of... ● Ownership for the tester's 'testing' ● Exploration beyond Acceptance Criteria ● Thinking about systems of 'behaviour', 'needs and wants' ● Improvement of self and test process ● Improvement of team and project process ● Speaking from individual experience ● Survival – assume that if you're not adding value, you're gone
  43. 43. 43 only variety can absorb variety ● Stafford Beer restating Ross Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety – “Designing Freedom” published by John Wiley & Sons, 1974, on page 30 “ ”
  44. 44. 44 “only variety can absorb variety” ● Team's absorb behaviour and respond – “Designing Freedom” by Stafford Beer, published by John Wiley & Sons, 1974, diagram from page 31
  45. 45. 45 The real world... ● is messy, and may not map to the books “And it ain't that pretty at all”
  46. 46. 46 Helping Testers Survive, and Add Value to Agile Projects Alan Richardson EvilTester.com @eviltester SeleniumSimplified.com JavaForTesters.com CompendiumDev.co.uk

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