Having worked in various organizations for many years in the area of Software Testing, I could firmly say that an Agile based testing approach is becoming critical factor in bringing superior quality to today’s web and mobile applications. Though there are several testing approaches available, it is high time to come out of traditional approaches and adopt more rigorous and iterative testing practices that make testing more real and bring more effective results.
Agile methodology is becoming very crucial while delivering quality results to customer. I thought I will share with you some basic principles, if followed that can bring drastic value additions to your test approach and make your client happy.
- Deliver value to the customer: Ensure that each prototype delivered to customer meet their expectation. Example: Is the layout of website as expected by customer, are the messages meaningful and user friendly, does the click on button work, are there any broken pages etc.
- Enable face-to-face communication: Direct communication with the client is very important to get clear picture of the requirements. There might not be proper documents for the change requests as change occurs in a rapid manner in agile environment, however, if a representative from each team (developer, tester, program manager) meet together on a regular basis to discuss the amount of work done, it can help measure the work progress, determine bug status (how many severe bugs still exists, how many were re-opened etc.) and where we stand when compared to customer needs.
- Keep it simple: Make a note of changes happening. Organized documents might not be available for every change that comes from the customer, but if you have record of all changes (with date and comments) preserved at a common place, it will help you refer in future in case any confusions arise. Also, when you report issues to the developer via bug tracking tool (or any other means like simple spreadsheet), give precise description of the issue that gives clear idea about the issue, if possible always attach a screenshot as the saying goes “A picture is better than 1000 words”.
- Keep big picture in mind: Although in agile methodology, prototypes are delivered in short intervals, testers must not get distracted from the big picture of the overall product. Continuous change in code and implementation can actually sidetrack you from original requirement of the client. Ensure that rigorous code change does not alter output from original agenda.
- Provide continuous feedback: Testers must be proactive enough to provide timely feedback to developers and program managers about the quality (bugs founds, requirement missing etc.) of each prototype being delivered to client as each prototype is developed in short time spans and the early the feedback, the sooner the developers can fix those bugs, thus, ensuring delivery of quality product to the client. Focus more on people – make sure all teams (including developers, program managers, and testers) and customer has the same understanding about a requirement.
- Have courage: Sometimes customer might not have an exact idea what fits best for his/her requirement, asking questions and offering ideas can help them choose best fit for their requirement, also it gives you better insight about customer expectations. Also, sometimes implementation has to be questioned as it might not be the exact way customer is expecting. So, dare to question implementation and the way in which system is behaving as developer who has developed that piece of product might not have enough understanding about the requirement and your question can help them build the right piece of product. It might create friction among teams as you cross question their code; however, a friendly approach and the right attitude can lead to fruitful discussion to build a product that fulfills customer needs. Ensure that your team is not intimidated by developers.
- Practice continuous improvement: Always strive to improve your testing skills. Evaluate your testing skills at each delivery. How closely you tested customer requirements, were any of the areas left out while testing? Did customer raise issues that you missed while testing? Learn from your past experience, make a note of mistakes happened, list out how testing could have been improved at your side and try to implement new steps in your next project.
- Respond to change: Change is constant part of agile testing. Requirements change continuously, code change continuously. If you are having difficulty in keeping track of changes, make a practice of writing down each change (with date and comments that will help you remember why the changes were made etc.). Sometimes this kind of documentation is also helpful to other teams while re-visiting requirements or you can also show it to customer when they say your product does not match their requirements.
- Self-organize: Plan beforehand how your day is going to be. Be prepared to handle unexpected situation. In agile environment, there will be constant changes; so, keep a note of what tasks are to be tested on daily basis and on what priority. Keeping your work organized and a planned approach to handle your testing tasks can help you to test better and finish tasks in more efficient and productive way.
- Enjoy your work: Knowingly or unknowingly you are doing a very responsible part of bringing the world to a better place, so take this responsibility with great enthusiasm and passion. It gives a great sense of satisfaction to see the product you tested is built in right way that makes your customer happy, thus, bringing joyous results to your hard work.