Project Management

Agile Methodology: Testing within an Agile Environment

Writing for PM Hut, John Nelson reminisces about days of Waterfall development, with testers running scripts against piles and piles of requirements, sometimes resulting in a halted development process. It was inefficient, to say the least. These days, with Agile, testing isn’t a mere follow-up procedure; it is the procedure! Agile testers work directly with both the customer and the business end. They are subject matter experts (SMEs) and they are advisors.

Agile Automatons

Agile relies upon iterative testing so that its tools and testing methodologies must be highly automated. This is essential if one considers the high degree of complexity inherent in layered coding. As the code base is built up, unit testing forces developers to reconfirm the integrity of the code. If you’re utilizing automated builds, the code builder should come with automated tests. Otherwise, changes must be continually integrated into the master code base by each developer. This will ensure that the code is being tested holistically, at multiple levels.

The User Story

More than an automation advocate, the agile tester is directly engaged with the user’s expectations. Agile testers are charged (along with business analysts) with delivering subject matter expertise to management and business operations. This means being aficionados and creators of user stories, segregating and decomposing them, and giving estimates for development and testing efforts:

A good user story is complete, accurate, detailed, and from the standpoint of QA, it is testable! Though this may sound nonsensical because after all, don’t we already know that? We should know that, but it is important to explicitly make the statement. A good user story is testable.

Sweet Synergy

Agile has, in effect, transformed the “bottleneck” tester of Waterfall software development into a driver of development. Because deployment of code is continual and in manageable amounts, the iterative result is that testers can deliver near instant feedback about potential defects and errors. In the end, synergy is the result of developers and testers working together in the agile environment.

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Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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