Agile testers must develop new mindset: Janet Gregory

Johannesburg, 01 Jul 2014
Read time 3min 40sec
Janet Gregory
Janet Gregory

Testers have a vital role to play in theagileworld, but in order to do so, they need to develop a distinct mindset. Speaking at a workshop hosted by IndigoCube, Janet Gregory, a leading international expert in agile testing, outlined the characteristics of an agile tester.

"The agile tester no longer sees herself as someone whose main purpose is to identify bugs or ensure that specific requirements are met. Agile testers are thinkers and take a much broader view, asking: 'What can I do to help deliver the software successfully?' says Gregory. "The ideal agile tester is analytical, curious, observant and critical- and combines a wide cross-functional knowledge with deep skills in the discipline of testing."

In Gregory's view, the agile (or thinking) tester is also characterised by a thorough commitment to collaboration.

"Agile has transformed software development by prioritising the creation of self-organising, cross-functional teams, in which individual roles have value only within the context of the overall goal of the team," she explains. "The agile tester thus works together with the whole team to find solutions, and does not see her role in isolation.Acceptance Test-Driven Developmentplaces testing at the centre of a widening circle of collaboration that includes the business, customers, developers and testers."

As part of their broader, collaborative role to the overall success of the project, Gregory believes agile testers need to move beyond simply "checking"- a largely automated verification of expected behaviours- to include "testing", which requires human sapience and involves deeper probing, exploration and learning.

"Testing is not just about code, we need to uncover hidden assumptions and test them in order to build a common understanding of what the project as a whole is trying to achieve, and to prevent defects from occurring," says Gregory.

To help her discharge her multifaceted role, the agile tester must have a variety of appropriate tools at hand. Gregory believes simple tools are often the most effective, particularly as they can be easily adapted to meet the needs of a specific project. Among these tools are mind maps, deep thinking and predict-check techniques, which involve testing before coding even begins.

Summing up, Gregory says in the agile environment, testers share responsibility for quality with the whole team, just as the whole team helps programmers understand what they need to code. "Agile is all about getting the entire team to perform as a unit, and the agile tester's set of skills is geared towards that," she concludes.

To view the presentation by Janet Gregory, clickhere.

Janet Gregory is co-author with Lisa Crispin of "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" (Addison-Wesley, 2009).

About Janet Gregory

Based in Calgary, Janet Gregory is a passionate advocate of agile quality processes in software development. Her focus is on helping business users and testers understand their roles in agile projects, and helping other team members understand the role of testing.

Gregory practicesLeanprinciples,Extreme Programming, andSCRUM, and she has extensive experience as a quality assurance manager in both traditional and agile environments. This range of experience gives her a rare understanding of the issues faced by most teams, and has helped her to introduce lasting change into organisations around the world.

In 2009, she co-authored "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams" with Lisa Crispin. She is also a regular contributor to industry publications such as Better Software, Software Test & Performance and Agile, and enjoys sharing her experiences at conferences and user group meetings around the world. She was named one of the 13 Women of Influence in testing by Software Test & Performance magazine in its January 2010 issue.

Gregory has a degree in Computing Science from the University of Alberta, an Information Management Certificate from the University of Calgary, SCRUM Master Certification, and took her Quality Management Certification from the American Society for Quality.


IndigoCube enables and improves the productivity of key business processes. It specialises in the areas of business analysis, software development, software testing and application security. The application of best practices and the development of requisite skills is core to all its solutions and it partners with some of the world's leading vendors. IndigoCube is ideally positioned to boost productivity and long-term return on investment in its focus areas.

Editorial contacts
Communikay Karen Heydenrych (083) 302 9494
IndigoCube Ziaan Hattingh (011) 759 5950
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