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None of this is Real! (Testy Testy)

On April 1, 2011, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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When in a small web company, Agile releases are real. By real, I mean they SHIP, and then you get feedback. In situations where you don’t actually release the software at iteration end, done means different things, but until it is released and people are USING it, it isn’t done. Even then, it isn’t truly “done”, but that isn’t my point. My point is, we set up these arbitrary iterations to help us meet our goals, yet it is just a structure if we aren’t actually releasing at the end of a sprint. There are many business reasons why it isn’t always possible to release that often, as well as testing considerations! It isn’t always best for the customer to get the latest code every few weeks even if we like the short feedback cycle. My point is, when you aren’t really releasing, there is an awareness that the iterations are a fake framework slapped on top of a real release schedule. This has some pros and cons. Also, I’ve learned in the last month that business size has little correlation to agility. I’m working with a very agile team at a large company, and a team which isn’t following any process I’ve experienced before at a very tiny company. Overall, I’m glad to be experiencing both!

Pros
-Ability to work in testing that spans features. There is a huge gap in the general “Agile Testing” strategy used right now. That is the basic fact that many teams using Agile aren’t on the first release anymore. There is a huge debt swamp of regression, building changes, and outside risk to be slogged through, sifted, and planned for. If we prioritize these, they can be great to automate, manually test, as exploratory charters, or even as end to end collaborative test exercises.

-Flexibility in validating bug fixes. We aren’t REALLY releasing. This means even if others try to impose an emergency, we testers can be wise and stay calm. Emotions can be useful in testing, but they are deadly and dangerous to making good decisions. We can keep things in perspective.

-Partial stories don’t have to make sense to the user. We just have to demonstrate them internally.

-Retrospective, burndown, & backlog all regularly get done, so we can incrementally improve.

Cons

-No feedback from users!

-Not really getting the full advantages including actual practice of a full release every iteration.

-Testing is still going to be different before a real release than it is for iteration end.

-Little to no incremental insight into how to adjust our testing to improve it.

Personal Life Stuff
Much of my daily life has changed! Long time no post, and mostly that is
because of all that has been happening behind the scenes. First, I’ve
gone independent! Yep. I am now the sole owner of Spark Quality, LLC. In
a few months a business website with all sorts of info should be ready.
For now I’m focused on my work. My main work is happening in South
Bend, Indiana where I’m working as a testing coach and consulting
tester. The team I’m working with is amazing! They are not only the most
“agile” team I’ve worked with, but they have the most functional and
best FitNesse automation that I’ve seen in practice. The testers pair
with the developers and each other. They are warm, welcoming, friendly,
and just a killer team to work with.

I’m also working as a test practitioner at starting a test team from
scratch. We’ve gone from no testing, to one fulltime tester, one part
time lead (me), and one intern I’m coaching to become a tester, which is
a huge challenge to do on a remote part time basis. In fact, it may be
the very biggest challenge I’m facing, and I’m facing many.

So, overall, I LOVE IT! I mean it. I have never been happier as a tester
and human with my career. Not every part of it. I HATE doing the bills.
I HATE being away from Craig so much. The time zones are difficult. The
worst thing so far is the increased pain & loneliness of not having
my support system, and also the food in Indiana is yucky to me. Pretty
flavorless. When I think of Seattle I think of fresh seafood, variety,
produce, & spices from around the globe. I think about Indiana and
it’s fried stuff, bland grey beef, and more french fries. Kind of makes
it easier to not overeat, except for the few exceptions. There’s an
Italian Bakery–WOW. I could eat all meals there. Heh. The best things
about Indiana are the people I work with. They are true good people.
Just all heart, humor, and hard work. They are the kind of team to
welcome you in and help you overcome all obstacles in order to be
productive. Then there is Matt, who is the only reason I was able to
work out a way to try this job! Thank you so much to Matt Barcomb, who
is an inspiring agile coach. The opportunity to work with him is a true
blessing. I feel like I won the lottery here with this job.

 

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