Summing it all up

I was fortunate enough to be invited to talk about the evolution of our development process at Agile Testing Days in Berlin and the Next Generation Testing Conference in London recently. The slides from those talks are online on slideshare (although it’s nothing new… merely this and this; just me being a broken record, in fact).

Both conferences were aimed at and attended by testers, and on some reflection I think I focused on the benefits of our evolved process rather than portraying the part the tester played in the evolution. So testers, to summarise, if you have a ‘QA’ column on your task wall, you’re doing it wrong. Go pair with a developer, now. Don’t just wait to bat back a list of bugs to them, go help them avoid having to work on the same thing twice. Give your devs those test cases you have in your head, you’re good at coming up with those. Teach your team how to come up with them too, make a cheat sheet. Discuss them with the team, learn about the business’ appetite for risk and surface those assumptions that everyone on the team is making but not sharing. Help everyone nail the domain. Ask which scenarios are important and forget about the ridiculous edge cases for now. Now build it and get real feedback. Start by writing your developer a failing test*. Remove yourself from your comfort zone one step at a time by doing this stuff; your team will thank you for it.

*I appreciate this is probably where some folks draw the line. Fair play, although I think your days are numbered..

During this whole phase I’ve gone from quality police tester, to back-seat developer tester, to integrated and valuable member of team helping bake quality in tester to… well, developer. It involved throwing myself out of my comfort zone; however, everyone else on the team had to too. It meant we can focus on delivering to our customers, the people that use our applications, rather than faffing around ping-ponging work between split dev and test teams.

We pulled off what we did because of everyone on the team. I’ve learnt an incredible amount from an incredible group of people, all of whom were willing to muck in: Jason Neylon, Mike Wagg, Jon Neale, Zubair Khan, Tony To, Mark Holdsworth, Damon Morgan, Baris Balic, Mark Barrett, Tim Ross, Nick Kostelik, Michael Baldry, James Williamson, Justin Ware, Elliot Ritchie, Stephen Lloyd, Paul Harrington, Mark Durrand, and Andrew MacQuarrie.

I work in an organisation that provides us, as developers, trust and autonomy, and I’m alongside some very, very smart people. As such, I shall stop banging on about this testing role stuff, and hone my skills as a dev. Cheers 🙂

2 Responses to “Summing it all up”

  1. 1 John Hunter 7 November, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Nice post. I think it is especially important to focus on finding ways to avoid bugs. Finding bugs that make it through the development process is important. But it is more important to change the process to one that creates fewer bugs to find.

  2. 2 Daniel Would 5 September, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I found this post as I was looking around for ways to describe the kind of testers I want to join my team. I’ve mostly been frustrated that most people with ‘tester’ on their CV are at the ‘write test case documents, wait for code, raise bugs when things don’t look right’ when what I really want is a developer to develop our code quality, through writing robust automated test case code, building tools to help us measure quality metrics, and if necessary fix product defects and argue about how good the APIs are.

    But where to find people with this mentality that don’t run a mile at a job title that says ‘test’ in it?

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