SmartBear was one of the event sponsors, so luckily we were able to sit in on some of the amazing speakers, and we learned a few things along the way about Agile testing. Here are just a few of the top takeaways from Agile Testing Days USA.
How Agile Are You?
If you’re at Agile TD, your team is probably working in an Agile fashion or looking to become more Agile. But Selena Delesie noticed something in her time working with different companies — many were saying they were Agile without actually working in an Agile manner.
Many times she found that people wanted to control everything and strictly plan out their sprints, which didn’t lead to the flexibility that Agile demands. Additionally, she found that many people were no longer engaged in their work and were not present with themselves and their coworkers.
“Stop doing Agile; stop treating it as a process,” said Selena. “Start being Agile. Doing and being are very different things”
Selena challenged the audience to reconsider what Agile means to them and think about whether their work processes were actually Agile.
Going back to the Agile Manifesto — specifically thinking about individuals and interactions, customer collaboration, working software, and responding to change — and even the definition of “agile” are good places to start. Agile is supposed to mean that you’re able to think on your feet, be active, and lively but many companies have lost that, and agile has become a heavier process than Waterfall.
Selena says that having more process and control does not help them do their best work, it makes them mediocre. She especially emphasized connecting with people and building relationships. Making the effort to have conversations with people, listen to them, and show compassion can make all the difference.
It’s especially important for management to instill these values and be transparent in order for an Agile organization to work effectively. Selena suggested to stop having meetings behind closed doors and instead, show trust in your team. Let go of feeling the need to control things and make more of an effort to discover and learn.
— lisacrispin (@lisacrispin) June 26, 2018
— Alexandra McPeak (@almcpeak) June 26, 2018
Look Beyond the Tool
Test automation is has proven essential for Agile teams, which means you need certain test automation tools. But when implementing automation into your workflow, it’s important to consider a few factors besides just which tools you’re using. In “Automation for the People”, Christin Wiedemann suggested that you additionally think about the “what, why, and who” of automation.
Before even starting with automation, you should first determine why you’re automating and how it’s benefitting the rest of your team.
Christin notes that automation is much more than running script using a tool — you should expand the scope of what you define as automation to understand what you want to automate. This is the best way to avoid waste, whether it’s waste of time, waste of effort, waste of money, or waste of trust in automation.
Oftentimes, automation is used to take over repetitive tasks to eliminate human error that comes with doing things over and over, but a lot of people start automating without specific intention.
Saving time isn’t always the answer because you might end up replacing the time it takes to execute a test with coding and maintenance. The most important thing is to have a reason for automation and set goals.
You also want to think about who will be automating. This isn’t limited to thinking about who will be writing the scripts and running them. Testing is a team effort, and everyone has different skills and ways to add value, which means those people should be contributing to automation efforts. “At the end of the day, we all want to contribute to the same objective,” says Christin.
Additionally, Christin emphasizes the importance of seeing automated and manual testing as supporting practices rather than contrasting them against each other. Meeting your objectives will require a mix of both manual and automated testing, and she says that it’s important to remember that the results are more telling than the method of achieving them.
By broadening our definition of automation to think beyond tools, we can get a better understand of test automation to further the success of testing in our teams.
— Claire Moss (@aclairefication) June 26, 2018
Musicians and Testers Aren’t so Different
Have you ever thought about how much test automation has in common with music history? If not, Angie Jones’ talk “Owning Our Narrative” gives a lot to think about.
Angie took us through the evolution of music, starting with Thomas Edison’s phonograph in 1877 and explaining how that idea developed to lead way to new recording instruments like the player piano and jukebox, then more recently to the cassettes, CDs, and MP3s that we know today.
As these changes took place, people began to develop new preferences when it came to music. Rather than being the social aspect it once was, music was now being sorted in genres. Record labels were recording electronically to get better sound, and automated machines were able to play one song instead of making people buy a whole album.
With all this innovation, musicians were forced to make adjustments and change the way they made music to meet the requirements of the different ways it was recorded and played. However, while the role of the musician changed in many ways, the skills remained the same.
If we think about the timeline of test automation, it’s very similar. We’ve found new ways to write and record tests, which has required testers to learn new skills as we embrace agility and shift left, but at the core, the role of the tester also remains the same.
Angie advocates that testers need to find a way to stay true to this role no matter the changes that are going on around us. Musicians were upset about automated machines taking jobs while everyone else was excited, and it was only by adapting to the new environment of music they were able to be successful.
She encourages us not to make the same mistakes as musicians. Embracing industry changes and making it work to your advantage will be far more productive than resisting it.
Angie notes that sometimes it can be difficult to convince others the value of our role in the changing landscape, but the more conscious testers are to those changes, the more prepared they are to own their narrative.
— AgileTestingDays USA (@AgileTDUSA) June 26, 2018
BONUS: Strategize Test Automation
We love Angie Jones so much, we wanted to make sure we invited her to SmartBear while she was in Boston. Luckily Angie accepted our invitation and taught our attendees about “Which Tests Should I Automate” at our Ministry of Testing meetup.
In this interactive session, Angie gave us a look at how she would perform a risk analysis of different test cases at Twitter to decide which tests should be automated, which tests you might want to automate, and which you would skip.
Many times we make the decision of automation off a gut reaction without considering the different aspects of each test — which are the most user critical? Which break the most often? Which would take the longest to fix?
By evaluating these factors against each other, we can make better decisions when it comes to test automation.
See the video below to watch the lesson for yourself.
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