Most of the testers and managers I meet seem to have a
similar perception of Agile testing. They think it's
“doing QA work on an Agile project”.
What do they mean by that? Usually, it's:
- formulating and executing test plans for stories
- having to test code with no backing reqs / specs
- being forced into very frequent regression testing
- logging bugs just as they've always done
The level of disinformation, misunderstanding and
angst I observe at this point truly worries me. It's a
very large risk for their project's success.
And then I get asked this question:
“What's the best tool for Agile testing?”
Pause here. Take a few seconds to think about it. What
do you think is the best tool for Agile testing?
Ready for my answer? Most testers (and their managers)
aren't ready for it. It's not Selenium, Fitnesse, QTP or
My answer: It's between your ears.
The best tool for Agile testing is a critical mind.
Here is a picture of my phone on the morning after
Daylight Savings Time kicked in.
Look at it for a few seconds. Really look! Don't just
skip to the rest of this article.
What did you notice?
If you're good at testing, chances are you noticed
that on the bottom the hour is 06:49, and on the status
line the hour is 07:49 (which is the correct one).
If you're a tester, you probably think at this point:
... How can I devise a test to expose this problem?
... When could we have missed that?
... Can I reproduce it?
If you're an Agile tester, you might also ask this
question: How come the phone is showing two clocks?
Notice something about this question? You've graduated
from problem-thinking to critical thinking. You're
critiquing the phone's design: Why is the user looking
at two clocks? Wouldn't one do just fine?
No test case, steps-to-reproduce, fancy tool, req doc,
traceability matrix, or spec involved. Just a human mind
observing a product and asking... Why. How come. What if.
You still look for problems, of course. And some areas
of the product still merit comprehensive checking and
detailed analysis. AND you apply your critical thinking
skills in order to increase extrinsic quality.
Too often, testers are locked into the reactive mode
of checking the product for conformance to someone's
requirements, of giving a compliance stamp. The best
Agile testers I know go beyond verification and truly
add value to great products by validating the thinking
that went into them.
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