Authors in Testing Q&A With Agile Testing Champion Lisa Crispin

Lisa Crispin was voted the Most Influential Agile Testing Professional Person at Agile Testing Days 2012 by her peers, and enjoys working asCrispinDonkey a tester with an awesome agile team. She shares her experiences via writing, presenting, teaching and participating in agile testing communities around the world.

She is also the author and contributor of numerous software testing books, including her latest, released in October and co-authored with Janet Gregory, More Agile Testing: Learning Journeys for the Whole Team. You can learn more about Lisa’s work on her site, and follow her on Twitter @lisacrispin.

In this uTest interview, Lisa explains the reality of agile adoption and suggests ways teams can succeed with agile.

uTest: Where have companies or teams gone most wrong when rolling out agile in their organizations?

Lisa Crispin: Many organizations don’t understand that to succeed at software development, we have to focus on delivering the best possible quality, rather than focusing on speed. Too many think that “agile” means “fast.” You need a big investment in time and training so that teams learn important practices such as TDD, CI, specification by example/behavior-driven development, helping business stakeholders identify the most valuable features, and so on. Teams that don’t nurture a learning culture where failure is tolerated, experiments are supported, and the team has diversity, accumulate too much technical debt and fail.

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What is Exploratory Testing? Find Out with a New Course and Webinar

Exploratory testing (ET) is a hot topic within the testing world. Testers who are not familiar with exploratory testing are looking for resources to understand what it is and how to get started testing in this way. binocular_man-300x273

We recently debuted a new course in uTest University called “What is Exploratory Testing?” penned by Lucas Dargis and Allyson Burk. In it, we look at the “traditional” approach to testing, and review what ET is and how it differs from scripted testing.

We also look at why you should use exploratory testing and wrap up by showing testers how to get started. In the course excerpt below, we answer the question: what is exploratory testing?
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How Sesame Street Can Help You Become a Better Software Tester

indexAll I really need to know, I learned in Kindergarten.

STARWEST presenter Robert Sabourin – a 30+ year veteran and well-respected member of the software development community – took that nugget of conventional wisdom and put his own unique tech spin on it in his course on Testing Lessons Learned from Sesame Street.

While the topic was fun and lighthearted, Rob took his subject matter seriously and impressed on attendees just how important it is to learn and master the basics. But what are “the basics”?

Let’s take a closer look at what you really need to know to build a solid software testing foundation.

Rob’s presentation focused on two main areas of professional – and personal! – development: cognitive skills and social skills. Developing your cognitive skills allows you to think more analytically, to develop efficient models and lay out precise explanations for your processes and reasoning. Strong social skills elevate your ability to collaborate to a whole new level of effectiveness and can help grow your reputation as a thought-leader.

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How We Really Need to Stop ISO 29119

After some real consideration, I have decided to sign the Stop 29119 petition, and along the way also signed the Professional Tester’s Manifesto.stop-29119

The main reason that really resonates with me is that companies, who would normally not use the standard, would be compelled to comply with it just to win business. If there are even a few companies that conform to the standard which are successful, and it doesn’t have to be because they comply with the standard, others will try to follow their path.

At some point, almost every company complies with the standard, and no one knows the reason, only just that the paperwork is unbearable, there isn’t any room for actual testing, and they are afraid to step out of this vicious circle. I do not wish for the testing field to go through this, and that is why I have signed the petition.

But here is where it gets tricky: I think the people who started this opposition to stop the ISO should have thought more about their actions before jumping the gun. One of the few problems I have with this course of opposition is that it gives too much power to the body behind the standard. After some time, all this opposition will turn into just information. People searching for testing-related information may come across all these countless blogs against 29119, and the only thing they will do is research the standard and tell themselves that so many people wrote about it, they should try it, and maybe convince their companies to comply with it.

Even negative advertising is still advertising — it is always of some value to the product being advertised — and gives it some kind of power in the form of public awareness. The proof can be, for example, the ISTQB. As a new tester few years ago, I wanted to get certified (I didn’t) because everybody was talking about it. It was not in a good light, but I still thought it would help me land a good job. There weren’t any other options, so what should a new tester do in this case?

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Incorporating User Feedback in Development Leads to Better Software Releases

Note: The following is a guest submission to the uTest Blog from Sanjay Zalavadia.voice_of_user2

By considering the performance of in-development software from the perspective of the end user, QA teams can better address disruptive issues.

Software testing can often be an arduous and stressful process. Even in traditional waterfall production methods, quality assurance teams are typically faced with a months-long period colloquially known as the “death march” as developments near release. During these moments, QA management and teams hunker down and toil away, attempting to address as many remaining coding flaws as possible before the software goes into production. The proliferation of agile development principles has only escalated this trend as QA members are constantly working to identify areas of improvement during the entire course of development.

It’s understandable if QA objectives become a little shortsighted under these conditions and testers place all of their focus on finding bugs and coding errors. However, testing managers need to remain cognizant of the ultimate goal of any successful development process: optimizing the end user experience.

QA performance cannot be measured by the number of bug reports generated, but by the satisfaction of software users following a product’s release. To that end, it is advantageous to consider the viewpoint of the consumer and incorporate user feedback into the development process.

Usability critical to software performance

In a truly agile software development project, user feedback is a critical component of the production cycle, helping to guide tester and developer efforts to improve the performance of the application.

By considering how individuals engage with a piece of software and what problems may commonly occur or will be most disruptive to the user experience, developers and QA teams can better focus on addressing those issues. That fact is that despite the best efforts of software testers, coding flaws are essentially an inevitability. No software is 100 percent perfectly written, but the most successful programs are often those that perform at an optimal level with a bare minimum of usability issues.

In a Software Testing Help post, quality assurance expert Santhosh Kumar Ponnusamy outlined several of the traits characterizing a successful tester. In particular, he highlighted the openness to consider the end user viewpoint and the staunch commitment to improving consumer satisfaction.

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ISO 29119: Why it is Dangerous to the Software Testing Community

stop-29119Two weeks ago, I gave a talk at CAST 2014 (the conference of the Association for Software Testing) in New York, titled “Standards: Promoting quality or restricting competition?”

It was mainly about the new ISO 29119 software testing standard (according to ISO, “an internationally agreed set of standards for software testing that can be used within any software development life cycle or organization”), though I also wove in arguments about ISTQB certification.

My argument was based on an economic analysis of how ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) has gone about developing and promoting the standard. ISO’s behavior is consistent with the economic concept of rent seeking. This is where factions use power and influence to acquire wealth by taking it from others — rigging the market — rather than by creating new wealth.

I argued that ISO has not achieved consensus, or has even attempted to gain consensus, from the whole testing profession. Those who disagree with the need for ISO 29119 and its underlying approach have been ignored. The opponents have been defined as irrelevant.

If ISO 29119 were expanding the market, and if it merely provided another alternative — a fresh option for testers, their employers and the buyers of testing services — then there could be little objection to it. However, it is being pushed as the responsible, professional way to test — it is an ISO standard, and therefore, by implication, the only responsible and professional way.

What is Wrong With ISO 29119?

Well, it embodies a dated, flawed and discredited approach to testing. It requires a commitment to heavy, advanced documentation. In practice, this documentation effort is largely wasted and serves as a distraction from useful preparation for testing.

Such an approach blithely ignores developments in both testing and management thinking over the last couple of decades. ISO 29119 attempts to update a mid-20th century worldview by smothering it in a veneer of 21st century terminology. It pays lip service to iteration, context and Agile, but the beast beneath is unchanged.

The danger is that buyers and lawyers will insist on compliance as a contractual requirement. Companies that would otherwise have ignored the standard will feel compelled to comply in order to win business. If the contract requires compliance, then the whole development process could be shaped by a damaging testing standard. ISO 29119 could affect anyone involved in software development, and not just testers.

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Testers Aren’t Psychic: Six Ways Developers Can Be More Transparent With Testers

Dear Developers:resized_business-cat-meme-generator-i-m-good-but-i-m-not-psychic-d50a02

Testers aren’t mind readers.  We’re not psychic or telepathic, either.  Please write your test cases and review our bug reports accordingly.

With Love,
Your QA Testers

Many testers dislike seeing the dreaded “Working as Designed” rejection reason on our bug reports because, in many cases, we had no idea it was designed to work that way.  To us, it just seemed like something wasn’t quite right, and it’s our job to tell you these things.

In fact, if a tester who has the perspective of a new user (someone who has no prior experience with what they’re testing and sees the environment in a way a brand-new user would) writes up a bug report on a feature that seems to be broken or working poorly, there’s a good chance new users will also think the same thing. Perhaps you should review the design and user experience to see if there’s a flaw there.

After all, quality assurance is not just about telling developers when a page errors or when a link is broken. It’s also about telling you when your software does not work in such a way that a user will find it to be a useful, quality, worthwhile experience.

It might seem like a pain in the butt, but we’re really just trying to do our jobs and help make your project a complete success.  Really! We’re on the same team, I promise.

When you ask us to test something for you, try and do the following things. They will help us help you and, in turn, your projects:

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Using Software Testing Metrics in an Agile Environment

Note: The following is a guest submission to the uTest Blog from Sanjay Zalavadia.software-testing-company-1234

Agile QA teams should use specialized software testing metrics to make sure they’re on the right track.

Software testing metrics are a vital component of the quality assurance process, providing team leaders with the data needed to make informed decisions. Agile teams require their own set of specialized metrics to better track progress and ensure that they are getting the most value out of the testing methodology. One of the largest issues that organizations run into when leveraging agile is botching the implementation, typically by misusing a tactic or strategy. With the right testing metrics, QA teams making their first foray into agile can gain the oversight needed to deploy the practice in an effective manner.

Writing for Agile Atlas, veteran software engineer and lean development expert David Koontz offered several metrics that could benefit agile teams. Many of these measurements centered around sprints, giving QA leaders insight into the effectiveness of these testing processes.

For instance, test teams can use software testing metrics to track both the projected capacity and capability of upcoming sprints. Such insight will help businesses address one of the most common problems associated with agile methods: sprint mismanagement. Teams that are still getting acquainted with agile may wind up underestimating how long forthcoming sprints will last, resulting in longer-than-anticipated production schedules. By gathering data and laying out an accurate timeframe for test sprints, QA leaders can avoid running into costly release delays.

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Testers Are Spending a Whole Lot of Time…Not Testing

Before you get completely riled up by that statement and wasting_time_by_lawlieta-d3dc84ythink we’re calling testers slackers…we’re not! In fact, testers are quite up in arms about this un-productivity.

Based on a recent joint study by uTest, IBM and TechWell, testers are certainly spending a whole lot of time on non-testing-related activities, and testing activities that they simply feel are just a big, plain ol’ waste of time.

The study, conducted in April 2014 by TechWell, was made up of 250 software testing pros from six continents, and found that:

  • 36% of testers surveyed spend over half of their week not testing
  • 58% cite ad hoc requests as the biggest disruptor of their work weeks
  • In regard to activities where testers spend more time than they’d like, almost 60% responded with waiting for test assets, while over 50% responded with ‘non-testing’ activities
  • Some of the top activities testers wished they’d spend more time in include: creating and executing automated tests, performing exploratory testing, and designing and planning tests
  • Testers want greater organizational improvements, including increasing automation, in order to free up their time to focus on testing and improving quality

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Focus on Automated Testing, Discount for uTesters at UCAAT

Automation is a sector of software testing that has experienced explosive growth and enterprise investment in recent years. The knowledge necessary to learn about and specialize in automated testing is found at industry events like the upcoming 2nd annual User Conference on Advanced Automated Testing (UCAAT) in Munich, Germany from September 16-18, 2014. ucaat

The European conference, jointly organized by the “Methods for Testing and Specification” (TC MTS) ETSI Technical Committee, QualityMinds, and German Testing Day, will focus exclusively on use cases and best practices for software and embedded testing automation.

The 2014 program will cover topics like agile test automation, model-based tests, test languages and methodologies, as well as web of service and use of test automation in various industries like automotive, medical technology, and security, to name a few. Noted participants in the opening session include Dr. Andrej Pietschker (Giesecke & Devrient), Professor Ina Schieferdecker (Free University of Berlin), Markus Becher (BMW), Dr. Heiko Englert (Siemens), and Dr. Alexander Pretschner (Technical University of Munich).

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