The Emperor’s View1 Agile Testing

I am not trying to say that those promoting agile are simply twenty-first-century snake oil salespeople,but neither shall I conclude that it’s a bandwagon of requirements nirvana on which businesses should jump wholeheartedly without a second thought. In my experience of over thirty years in IT, agile could be the bees’knees(you see how old I am), the best thing since sliced bread, or the software testing equivalent of the Betamax or Sinclair C5.

Will agile be the answer to all our software testing and quality assurance issues? As a consultant I can honesty say, “It depends.”

My agile story is based on a collection of anecdotes and observations from the testing departments of corporate U.K.,with the company’s real names and identities disguised,mainly because by the time the ink is dry on this book,they will all have learned from the process and moved on.

I started my own consulting company in 2002 and initially delivered training courses and strategic consultancy based on traditional methods and standards such as ISEB (the Information Systems Examination Board) ISTQB(International Software Testing Qualifications Board)and IEEE 829. After a few years we’d realized the world was changing–getting more complex and faster in every sense of the word. Our articles and seminars on rate of change over time were developed and we published our FAST(Funded, Autonomous, Supported,Technical) methodology and started to follow the agile developments.

In my recent experience as an independent consultant in software testing and quality assurance I have found agile to be both a blessing and a curse: a blessing when it has delivered real business value, a curse if it is used simply as an excuse to ignore commonsense testing approaches. The agile approach has transformed some development shops and significantly enhanced their relationship with the business. Have they been lucky not to have a major systems failure or pragmatic about the way they integrate the iterative testing with the traditional end-to-end approaches? Me thinks the jury is still out and we have a long way to go to understand, let alone solve, all of the problems.



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