Testing, the big agile misunderstanding

Navigating social media I bumped into the Capgemini Word Quality Report 2014-15. After sharing my personal data with Capgemini, I downloaded it and started reading. First of all, it is a very well written document, second the findings are interesting, I will talk about some of its puzzling conclusions some other time.

What I am going to comment on here is one small part in the chapter “Agile Testing: Growing in Acceptance, Still to Fully Mature” and in particular to the finding that the biggest challenge in agile testing according to the report is:

“Lack of a good testing approach that fits with the agile development method”

According to the report 61% of the 1432 respondents (among 1543 CIOs and IT testing leaders) claim this is an issue for their organization and among the issues this is the most widespread.

Can you see the real problem?

The problem is that 61% of the interviewed don’t know what agile testing is about, and that’s the real issue.

Agile testing is an inseparable part of agile software development how can it not fit with itself?

Do you want to know when it will not fit? It will not fit when you try to shoehorn traditional centralized independent testing approaches into an agile development team. Yes in that case it won’t fit at all, in fact, forget it, if you do that you will fail.

Do you really want to be agile? Really? Then forget about Test departments and change the culture in your organization. Software quality is everybody’s responsibility in an agile organization, embrace the change and YOU WILL FIT.




10 thoughts on “Testing, the big agile misunderstanding

  1. I must agree with you Augusto. Agile testing is really about collaborating and integrating with the delivery teams. I struggle when I hear “lack of a good testing approach that fits with the agile development method”. There are many organizations (and yours is one of them), that are successful.

    There are some challenges that are harder than others, but many have figured out how to overcome them using agile techniques. It is one of the reasons that @LisaCrispin and I have included so many stories from practitioners in our new book “More Agile Testing”. Culture is such an important part of any change, and that is the hardest. Teams and organizations do have to change the way they think to be successful.

  2. Thanks for your feedback Janet. I really hope that “More Agile Testing” will bring more clarity on this topic, it is extremely frustrating having to read that 61% of industry leaders still don’t get it. I can’t wait to get my copy, and beware of my book review that’ll be coming soon after 🙂

  3. I look forward to your review. As I skim through the report, I noticed that DSDM and TMap are highly used as guiding principles. This tells me that the majority of respondents are probably from Europe since neither of those ‘methods’ are well used in North America. And, it does look like people are looking for a separate testing methodology rather than looking at their testing differently. There is no magic.

    • Janet, Capgemini is a French multinational with offices in 40 nations including a dozen US states, but you might be right on your observation, the focus might be Europe, I will try to find out more about this.

      On Tmap I believe might be a bit of self promotion as Tmap was invented and trademarked by Capgemini in the late 90s and was very big in Europe. I am quite familiar with it as I studied and implemented it when working in a waterfall regulated environment.

      If I wanted to use Tmap today in my agile teams it would feel like driving a Tractor to go to work. It would get me there, but it burns 10 times more fuel, hurts the other cars with it’s slowness and size in the small Dublin roads and pollutes the environment. Why not buy a city car and fit with the environment?

  4. Hello Augusto.

    I usually pick up on details, for example asking what you mean with “it is a very well written document”. Because I don’t know you, I feel like I need to ask those questions to understand your thinking.

    Having that said, I think your article feels to me to be about unskilled testing. I’m not picking up on the point that the respondents weren’t testers. I’m saying that the “full team responsibility” is (from my point of view) a useless statement and often harmful.

    Forgetting testing departments is a path to shallow testing. It’s a path where deeper understanding of testing is not appreciated. I know it doesn’t mean that, but I have never seen or heard of a company which was able to do it.

    Some people say “testing is not just about pushing buttons” and they have a point, but I think they are not conveying the idea that testing is not your actions. Testing, the kind I talk about, happens inside your brain. Testing, the kind I talk about, is extremely challenging and I prefer testers to focus on that so programmers and managers and other people can focus on their domain.

    I think there is a lot of stuff we still need to figure out to make Agile work. Currently, it seems to be mostly about programming and “delivering”. If you know of something that is not the same, I’d appreciate to know about it. Especially if it’s about testing skills.

    Best regards,

    • Jari, thanks for your feedback.

      When I said very well written, I meant, I found it clear, easy to read and well formatted, I didn’t intend to imply any other positive attribute to it, in fact I also mention “puzzling conclusions”.

      You talk about unskilled testing; I test in those teams, if I was touchy I might be offended but I won’t. You say that full team responsibility is a harmful and useless; it is a pillar of what I believe and preach, again, I won’t be offended because people are free to have opinions and I respect all the people in the world no matter their beliefs.

      Forgetting test departments is not a path to shallow testing. How do I know it? I have been in both places. I was even THAT test manager that decided the test department wasn’t fitting the new agile organization anymore and went back to test in an agile team. Can you see? I lived it.
      I lived the full team responsibility, I lived it and I find it so much empowering and effective than the siloed test department.

      On what do you base your statement of shallow testing?

      BTW, I never mentioned that testing is an unskilled job, I take pride in my testing skills, I fully understand what being a tester means, I have been I am and will always be one. Programming and delivering is not what agile is. You ask for resources, you are in the right blog, there are around 30 articles about agile software development and testing.

      There is certainly a lot we can figure out to get agile working better, but rest assured that there are many of us for which agile works a treat and it is not about shallow testing.

  5. Hey Gus! Thats an interesting stat… To me, it looks like the survey has been specifically aimed at a certain demographic and hasn’t included people from different “schools of testing”. I wonder what the stat would be they had actively approached and opened up to everyone.

    I can understand what Jari is saying in his comment. I’ve been pushing the fact that everyone is responsible for testing and that everyone should be part of one team without sub departments, but it’s crazy to see some of the misconceptions that it can stem without further context (I once had someone senior respond saying “well, we don’t need testers anymore then?”). These misconceptions and attitudes might lead to very shallow testing…

    The point that we need to be making is that testing is multiple activities and everyone on the team has their own responsibility for different testing activities. Everyone is responsible for testing and as a whole, but there are still T-shaped skilled team members (exploratory testing expertise, programming expertise, automation expertise, etc), and everyone on that team should be considered equal.

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