Must have skills for Agile Testers – a key to the entire team’s agility

Software test professionals have shouldered the responsibility of ensuring a quality software delivery. With the advent of agile, testers in agile teams have had a lot more in their plate. Instead of being a quality ‘gateway’ or checkpoint at the end of the software development life cycle, they have become an integral part of each and every phase of creation.

As I like to say, testers are key to the team’s agility and have a crucial part to play in the success of the project as well the team’s agile journey.

Here let us discuss the skills and thoughts that every agile tester must focus on to stay abreast with their project’s needs as well as the industry’s pace:

Be the User’s Amigo

Agile talks about the ‘3 amigos’ – the Business Analyst, the developer and the tester – all working together to bring a user story to life. To understand the user’s perspective on each and every requirement, a tester can play a crucial role by thinking ahead, asking the right questions during story grooming and design discussions and testing the most probable and useful paths while execution.

QA professionals are also required to think from the user’s chair and provide constant feedback during continuous involvement in usability testing, cognitive walkthroughs, focus groups and surveys etc.

Overall, an agile tester needs to think of the customers as their amigos, have a taste of their experiences, keep note of their problems and bring out the best in the software to keep their buddy happy!

Learning Areas: Requirement Analysis, Use Cases and User Stories, Usability study, End-to-end testing, exploratory testing and test techniques

Keep a check on the ‘Behavior’

The requirements from the market need quick gathering, distillation and development which require collaboration between the entire set of stakeholders in short time scales.

Behavior Driven Development (BDD) uses the concept of ubiquitous language or a semi-formal language which is shared by all team members including developers, testers, business analysts and other non-technical stakeholders. It makes use of simple domain specific language to convert natural requirements into executable tests.

BDD is definitely catching up in the market because of its outside-in, multiple stakeholder and high automation approach suitable to agile projects. So, all my tester buddies, get your hands into BDD and related tools!

Learning Areas: Basics of TDD, BDD, Cucumber, ATDD, Fitnesse, building a Test automation framework

Spin the wheels of ‘Continuous Testing’

Software delivery timelines have reduced tremendously and to meet the expectations of quick delivery and deployments, software testing has to become a part of the delivery pipeline. The advent of DevOps has brought with it various tools to support CT as a part of CD which makes testers an integral part of the devops system. Software testers are required to participate in setting up and maintenance of sustainable test setups and environments, automate tests rapidly, set up and maintain the continuous testing pipeline.

Learning Areas: DevOps fundamentals, Configuration Management Tools, Build automation, Test automation tools and integration into devops pipeline

It is all black and white!

Testers focussing solely on ‘black’ box testing and only business level tests would need to think more ‘white’ now. The need of continuous testing can be met only by ensuring API level tests, and moving towards micro services testing which ensures easy test and deployment of new independent pieces of functionality in the code.

With faster delivery cycles, huge interdependencies of systems in real-time and regression overloads, functional tests are insufficient and impossible to run in isolation. For comprehensive tests, API testing will be the foremost requirement to verify dependencies on and with other applications and systems. Adding white box testing skills to their profile will not only be a value add to the resume, but also add an essential key piece to complete the ‘black and white’ picture.

Learning Areas: White Box testing basics, REST APIs, Unit test framework like JUnit, TestNG etc.

A tester’s role in an agile team is to provide assistance and support in all areas, so they may need to switch hats frequently, depending on the team’s needs. The success of this endeavor, though, also depends on an open, communicative, and receptive environment fostered within the team. Adding these new skills to your hat can help any agile tester bring more value to their team.

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