A mechanical guide to testing on agile projects

Testers keep telling me that testing is not just about breaking things.  They also tell me that they are there to help the team think rather than just point out the dumb things they have done in the last sprint.

That’s probably all true.  But I have been asked by someone to give them a mechanical set of steps to do when you are an agile tester.  That way they have a starting point when they join an agile project.

So here are the 8 steps to follow:

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What do testers do on agile projects?

I was just talking to someone who is on the journey towards the good life in agile.   But in their early projects they have hit a snag.

It seems that the testers want to record lots of bugs in their log so they can show them to their friends. They also want to talk to the developers about all those bugs.

But the developers don’t want to talk to the testers about bugs.  They want to write new code and create new bugs – not get interrupted to hear about the bugs that already exist.

This is not actually ideal on an agile project. So I decided to sit back and ponder why you might want a tester on an agile project.

Before I continue though, stop and think about how you would answer the question in this “agile testing exam”.  Testers are allowed three hours but it should take you a bit less:


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A good video on Jobs to Be Done

We all want to be more customer focused and closer to the customer.  All that sounds great, but it assumes that we have some idea of who the customer is and what they want.

So maybe we should list our customers by customer segment.  Let’s see – I am James and I am a customer of your product.  I live in Sydney and I am Australian.  But unlike most Australians I am a bit short and not very good at sport.

Now you know me really well you can flog your product to me.  You can even build a persona around me (see this link).  If you are more sophisticated you might even start doing empathy maps and value proposition canvases.

But the point is not to build a detailed picture of me.  Knowing I am tall or short is nice and knowing I am Australian might tell you about what I want in a product … but just as likely it won’t tell you how to make a product relevant to me.

Rather – we want to know what things I want to do (ie my “jobs to be done”). So let’s see what that means.

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