Is Agile QA necessary?

I’ve recently discussed an Agile QA Transformation with two clients. These clients are moving to Agile development but want specific help in transforming their QA to support Agile methods. They believe there’s specific need for Agile QA and they want me to help them get there. How different this is from the days when the Agile community (mostly developers) was telling me QA wasn’t necessary because quality was built in.

I think Agile QA is necessary. Here are 6 reasons you should consider having trained Agile QA experts on your team.

  • Making things is a different skill than breaking things. Many of the best testers find problems in places other people don’t look.
  • (related) Years of testing gives experience in things to test. Tester training provides other ideas.
  • If your development is subject to regulatory oversight you will need QA to assure the compliance requirements are met.
  • Traditional testers will naturally try to find ways to do traditional QA within an Agile iteration. That won’t work. You’ll want people trained or skilled in testing in an Agile way
  • QA (assuring good code before it’s written) is separate from QC (test). Agile gives you the opportunity to practice true QA. Your traditional QA experts will need to shift their focus back to creating quality (shift left).
  • You’ll want your developers focused on their development expertise. Even in fully cross-functional teams you will want at least one QA expert as a part of the team. Just putting a traditional QA/test expert in a Scrum team isn’t good enough.

But now we have a problem – traditional QA/test experts won’t be good fits on a cross-functional team until they become Agile but you can’t become Agile without some experience on a cross-functional team.

Until your QA/test experts gain Agile experience you can give them training and coaching. You can also just toss them in and let them learn by doing following the Agile approach of inspect and adapt. Eventually they will become powerful supporters of your methodology, but that will take time.

NOTE: For those looking for training I offer a 2-day training course for QA/Test experts who want to work in Agile teams. You can find out about the next course here.

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