Role as an Agile Tester

In Agile development, efficient collaboration and defining roles and responsibilities are key to delivering top-notch software.

Role as an Agile Tester

This article will delve into the diverse roles present in an Agile testing team, emphasizing the significance of communication and teamwork among these roles. By comprehending and embracing these responsibilities, agile teams can enhance their testing endeavors and attain superior quality standards in test automation.

Agile testers assume a versatile and collaborative role that involves adaptability and close interaction. They actively engage with the development team, product owner, and other stakeholders to ensure that the software meets quality standards and fulfills customer expectations.

In an iterative and agile development environment, testers must collaborate closely with developers, working alongside them throughout development.

Why is Agile used?

Software enterprises navigate dynamic and fast-paced environments in today’s rapidly evolving tech landscape. Gathering exhaustive software requirements in such a swiftly changing scenario becomes impractical. Traditional models like the Waterfall Model, relying on detailed requirement specifications, system design, and testing, struggle in rapid software development scenarios.

As a result, conventional software development models often fail to deliver the expected product. Agile software development is custom-tailored to tackle these challenges by embracing incremental development, allowing the final product to evolve in sync with the changing environment.

Traditional methods entail establishing all requirements upfront, with results only visible once the system is fully constructed. Consequently, issues may remain undiscovered until well into the development process, and alterations in requirements during development can lead to significant delays.

Contrarily, agile software development excels across diverse project types, offering enhanced adaptability and transparency to customers by providing insights into ongoing development. This approach optimizes workforce potential and ensures efficient project management from initiation to completion. Its continuous planning and feedback loops effectively address specific requirements.

Agile directly addresses the challenges companies and developers encounter when employing traditional methodologies in software projects. Moreover, it fosters a collaborative environment, effortlessly streamlining project management.

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Agile tester

In an Agile project, each team member holds responsibility for ensuring product quality and contributes to executing test-related tasks. While every member is involved in maintaining quality, certain aspects are more important to dedicated quality professionals. Testers in an Agile team have specific responsibilities that include generating and offering feedback on test status, monitoring test progress, and evaluating product quality. Additionally, they need to scrutinize the quality of the test process itself, a critical aspect often overlooked.

Their duties encompass various activities such as understanding, implementing, and updating the test strategy, measuring and reporting test coverage, and ensuring optimal utilization of testing tools. Testers actively engage in reporting, prioritizing, and resolving defects, as well as providing training or guidance on testing and quality to other team members. 

Collaboration with developers and business stakeholders to clarify requirements remains a focal point, emphasizing testability, consistency, and completeness. Furthermore, they actively contribute to team retrospectives, suggesting and implementing improvements.

Agile organizations might face specific test-related risks due to their close collaboration with developers. There is a possibility that testers could shift away from their “tester mindset,” possibly overlooking or failing to report ineffective or inefficient testing practices. Additionally, under time constraints, testers might struggle to keep pace with rapid changes during an iteration.

To mitigate these risks, organizations should explore options to maintain some level of independence, although achieving this balance is challenging. One effective approach involves establishing strong leadership from the test organization to oversee governance across teams while allowing testers to function independently within their respective teams. This strategy ensures a departure from the “us versus them” mindset prevalent in the past, fostering a more cohesive and collaborative environment.

Exploratory Testing:

Speed is crucial in agile development, making testing speed and short feedback loops essential.

Exploratory testing, also known as ad hoc testing, uncovers issues beyond automated testing’s scope. For instance, it can identify user interface and user experience problems that automated testing often misses, as human intuition plays a crucial role.

Unlike structured testing, exploratory testing doesn’t rely on a test plan, hastening the process as it doesn’t require extensive team discussions. Testers can immediately highlight any bugs they uncover during exploratory testing to the responsible developers.

Why can’t developers conduct exploratory testing themselves? Similar to how writers can’t fully edit their own work due to familiarity, developers may overlook certain issues due to their in-depth knowledge of the interface. Testers, approaching the software with fresh eyes, bring a unique advantage to this aspect of testing.

Creation of Automated Tests:

Developers practicing test-driven development (TDD) often create their automated tests, mainly unit tests, and perform frequent test suite runs to detect regressions. While some developers may lack the expertise to create tests that demand extensive setup and tooling, many testers possess these competencies.

In a continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) process, testers’ input is crucial in determining which tests run in the pipeline. For instance, after developers perform a code check-in, the CI system conducts a suite of smoke and unit tests (mostly created by developers) before accepting the new code. 

Subsequently, end-to-end integration tests (largely written by testers) are executed by the QA staff or the CI system. If these tests are time-consuming, they can run nightly, outside the CI/CD pipeline, to avoid delaying builds.

Leveraging the functionalities provided by a cloud-based tool like LambdaTest yields significant advantages. LambdaTest, powered by AI, serves as a test orchestration and execution platform, enabling developers and testers to perform automated and manual tests across more than 3000 browsers, devices, and operating system versions for web applications.

This resource also offers quality assurance teams the ability to perform comprehensive testing on real mobile devices, guaranteeing the functionality of their mobile apps across an extensive range of genuine devices with assured confidence and reliability.

Early and Frequent Testing:

Automated testing integrated with TDD and/or CI/CD facilitates the shift-left testing strategy, where testing’s position shifts earlier in the software development lifecycle. Rather than forming a large phase at the project’s end, testing occurs consistently throughout the development process.

Testers play a part in the Agile development process even before developers begin coding. They collect information, assist in requirements management, and contribute to defining acceptance criteria, signifying that Agile testing starts from day one or even earlier.

In an ideally co-located Agile team, informal interactions are frequent. However, when testers and developers work in different locations, the lack of physical proximity hinders quick interactions, making it harder to address issues promptly.

Role as an agile tester

For an Agile team, it’s beneficial to have testers physically embedded with developers, attending the same meetings, and working closely. While virtual team co-location is feasible with modern tools, it introduces barriers and delays, undermining smooth interaction. Therefore, ideally, Agile testers work alongside developers, enhancing communication and collaboration.

Understand the product’s vision

As an agile tester, it’s vital to comprehend the vision, goals, and user requirements of the product. Actively engaging in product-centric sessions such as user story mapping, backlog refinement, and release planning is pivotal. This participation enables you to contribute significantly by defining acceptance criteria, identifying potential risks and dependencies, and providing valuable feedback and suggestions from a testing perspective.

Collaboration within the team

Consistent and transparent communication, sharing test results and ideas, and offering support within the team are essential. Adopting a holistic approach to quality assurance, where all team members are responsible for both building and testing the software, is key. This means active involvement in testing and assisting developers with unit tests, code reviews, and test automation.

Flexibility and adaptation

Adaptability is fundamental for an agile tester. Being open to changes, uncertainties, and varied requirements is crucial. Flexibility in handling shifting priorities, user feedback, and evolving business needs is essential. Embracing the complexities of the software, utilizing exploratory testing methods, and effectively reporting discovered bugs and issues are necessary skills. Continuous learning, updating new tools and methodologies, and enhancing testing practices are integral to adaptation.

Value-driven approach

The primary goal of an agile tester is to deliver value to both users and the business. Focusing on testing the most critical features for users and providing prompt, constructive feedback is essential. Monitoring and assessing software quality and performance using metrics and data are crucial. Automating routine tests to allocate time for more creative, exploratory testing is equally important.

Advocacy for quality

Advocating for quality and user satisfaction is a core responsibility of an agile tester. Upholding high standards of quality, addressing concerns affecting software quality or user experience, and championing the significance of agile testing within the team and the organization is essential. 

Sharing best practices, providing guidance, seeking feedback, and acknowledging accomplishments contribute to sustaining quality standards and driving improvements.

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In Agile testing, roles and duties are interconnected, underscoring the significance of teamwork and transparent communication within the team. When Agile testers, Scrum Masters, Product Owners, and developers comprehend and embrace their respective responsibilities, it enables teams to enhance testing endeavors, ensure robust quality assurance, and produce valuable software products that align with stakeholders’ demands.

Through a focus on collaboration and recognizing the pivotal nature of each role, Agile testing teams can elevate their effectiveness, enhance their testing methodologies, and attain excellence in quality within the ever-evolving landscape of Agile development.

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