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Testing in Agile – Let’s talk shop

One of the key differences between Traditional Testing and Agile is communication. Learn how Agile can build and support a solid QA team that can tackle even the most demanding tasks.

Esther Llyod

We don’t need an accurate document, we need a shared understanding’ – Jeff Patton

If one word could summarize a key difference between traditional testing methods and Agile, it would be communication. You may be a superstar at writing up every developer’s specifications with spelling and grammar to a standard that would make any literary professor proud, but how long does it take you? How often then do you need to follow up with said developer as they have misunderstood and changed an unrelated piece of code?  Then the Business Analyst (BA) comes along and informs everyone to refer to their initial specifications which clearly outlines that everyone is wrong. Sigh.

Here at giffgaff, our product teams live in an Agile Scrum world. One such team is the Mobile Network Propositions (MNP) team; or more fondly known as the Shop Team. This team handles key features for the business including acquisition, ecommerce transactions, A/B testing, analytics and more. The team consists of developers, testers, UX, a BA, Scrum Master and Product Owner.

Instead of providing complete, detailed descriptions of how everything is to be done on any of these features, much of it is left up to the self-organizing cross functional MNP scrum team. Empowering the team ensures the work will be completed is because the team will know best how to solve the problem they are presented.

Agile TeamTrust is the keyword here.  Without it, the system starts to fail. The business put faith in that we as a team have the expertise to deliver a product that meets their needs. In turn, we trust that they will allow us to iteratively deliver a product in such a way that we can show incremental value. But please don’t think this means we just develop and don’t document anything. Quite the opposite, we document what we need. However long winded documents that never get looked at are left at the door. Instead we rely heavily on communication throughout all aspects of development. Being co-located we are able to talk freely among the team. We encourage conversations with the business and regularly gather feedback. We operate honestly and transparently, building trust by delivering features quickly and reliably.

The testers in the MNP team embody this process and thrive under its philosophy. From standups, stakeholder demos, backlog refinement and story breakdown, we are constantly improving software quality. We don’t wait for the answers; we ask the questions first.