Software Testing: how to keep Agile projects on track

Is Agile software development good for a tester’s mental health? Depends, doesn’t it?

So, how can we keep software testing projects on track when the Developers are using Agile to create sprints?

What do we need to ask our developers?

Ask Dev to confirm THEIR understanding of UAT

It’s not enough to ask, ‘do you understand what’s expected of you as an Agile software developer and helping me with the user acceptance testing…’, instead ask them to explain back to you how they understand their task.

This highlights if there is a gap in their understanding, which you can clarify and avoid any future misunderstandings.

Agree the due date

Ensure that this is stated clearly and reminders are sent frequently.

Review progress frequently

Don’t wait until the end of the project to check progress reports. Instead, perform spot checks as frequently as possible. This ensures that minor deviations don’t become major ones.

So, what will make you miss your target date?

Watch out the following:

Shortcuts

New recruits who decide there is a simpler way to perform some task, or improve some process without understanding its impacts on other people, systems, and projects.

Alarm bells should go off when you hear someone new mention an ‘obvious shortcut.’ They probably have not thought it through.

Great ideas

New ideas to make something simpler, usually means that it makes things easier for one person but a nightmare for others.

Watch for powerful personalities who try to bully other team members into following their guidelines often using ‘must do this now or else…’ type tactics to frighten others into following their lead.

Innovation

Another variation on the great idea, innovation is when someone decides to change an existing process without telling others. ‘I didn’t think you needed to know,’ ‘Do I have to tell you everything’ and ‘I thought you wanted us to be innovative’ will all be thrown back at you.

Being innovative is often an excuse to avoid doing the work that needs to be done. It’s more interesting to do and, if positioned correctly by the innovator, can be hard to criticize.

Changing priorities

This can happen if other projects arise which have to be managed in parallel with the first project. Instead of completing the first project, they deviate and start on the second.

This often happens when boredom, fatigue, or burnout affect a team. Looks for these signs and find ways to balance their work load to avoid these issues undermining their productivity.

Over confidence

This often affects newer recruits who, due to lack of experience, may under-estimate the amount of work involved or be unaware of issues that lurk around the corner.

This colours their thinking as they assume the project will go forward smoothly without the interruptions, impediments, and conflicts you’ve seen in the past.

Gremlins

Obviously not a technical term, but allow for issues that may arise which significantly impact project delivery. For example, if you are working with a remote team, allow for bandwidth and access issues.

Your technical configuration may be very different than theirs. In addition, they may be facing technical impediments that you are unaware of, for example, access to software, releases, or testing tools.

Multiple Spreadsheets for Tracking

If you’re using a web-based system to track and record your progress, for example, in Excel on the intranet, there may be access issues.

For example, someone opens the Excel but doesn’t close it, so everyone else is locked out. In this case, people may start to make their own local copies with the intention of copying and pasting into the master copy.

In theory, this is fine. In reality, it will corrupt the data in the Excel.

What usually happens is that someone makes a change to the master Excel, say adding new rows. This changes the numbering in the Excel.

Another person comes in, turns some or all of the filters off, and paste into the Excel over-writing some of the data in the process. Of course, you may not notice this until you filter your own entries and see that the values have changed.

Known Unknowns in Software Testing

Expect the unexpected.

Give yourself some wiggle room so that if something occurs outside of the usual range of issues, for example, a severe storm closes down the office, that you have some lee-way in your project plan.

Download these templates to start

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan