Agile Testing FAQs: What makes testing agile?

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The following article is a guest post to Zephyr from Chelsey Lang, Clearvision. Clearvision is a partner of Zephyr that helps software teams and IT programs implement tools and processes that bring high quality software to the market.

Agile testing exists in the wider context of an agile development organisation, where customer requirements are at the centre of the development lifecycle. Because customer needs can change frequently and quickly, testers need to be able to adapt.

In order to adapt in this way, the testing team will generally get code from the development team in regular increments. This incremental, iterative, rapid way of working is one of the major defining factors of agile development. It brings the development and testing teams closer; they work collaboratively, united in meeting customer needs.

In an agile environment, testers don’t “just test”. They shape the whole QA process and influence the success of a product.

What qualities does a good agile tester need?

While technical skills are obviously important in a testing role, the biggest impact is often around the interpersonal skills of a tester.

This is because of the collaborative nature of agile software development and testing. As we touched upon earlier, the development and testing teams need to work very closely together. More than this, in an agile environment a tester will also work closely with product owners and stakeholders, and will in fact engage in all stages across the application lifecycle thanks the continuous nature of development.

To flourish, a good agile tester should be open-minded, communicative, and proactive in engaging with other team members. An analytical eye and the ability to prioritize tasks according to changing requirements will also take you a long way.

Where should I start?

Firstly, it’s important to familiarise yourself and your team with the principles of agile working and culture. If you’re advocating working in a more agile manner, you’re probably already familiar, but your team might not be approaching agile from the same perspective as you, and unifying your approach makes it a lot stronger.

If you’re working in a more traditional, “waterfall” style environment, it’s often best to start small. People can be resistant to change, and the best way to combat this is to show them the benefits of agile working.

By introducing agile to a willing team or specific project first, the rest of the organisation will see the benefits in action and be much more willing to adopt something new to them. Testing can be a great place to start this change, as agile principles lend themselves so well to the needs of testers.

Finally, are you using the right tools? JIRA Software, for example, is the number one software development tool used by agile teams. Tools alone won’t make you agile, but they’ll boost speed and efficiency, encourage the adoption of agile, and help teams work to best practice principles moving forward.

What should I look out for moving forward with agile testing?

We’ve seen agile start to gain traction outside of the world of software development, and this looks set to continue. It’s a great bonus for software teams, as when a whole organization begins to embrace agile it cuts down on waste, which for the dev team can mean no more projects that should really have been cancelled before development started.

Within development, you should expect collaboration will continue to be a major theme. We’re likely to see agile “pods” prevail - that is, we’ll see more and more self-organizing, autonomous teams who are equipped with the skills and talent needed to deliver a product. The presence of multiple competing perspectives will push the team - and therefore the product - in the best overall direction, and so it’s well worth investing in agile training for the whole team as an investment for the future.

As you, your teams and your overall organization moves forward with agile, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that your ability to adapt is essential, not only within your projects but within the industry itself.


Author Chelsey Lang: Chelsey is a Marketing and Social Media Executive for Clearvision; a partner of Zephyr. She writes about agile methodologies, software development, and collaboration and culture in the tech industry. Chelsey is passionate about literature, the intersection of fashion and tech, and the Oxford comma. Thankfully, Chelsey writes better blog posts than she does bios.You can read more of her writings https