November 10, 2015

Four Trends Affecting Test Management Right Now

Last week we shared the news that I’ve been asked to join three other testing experts to deliver a presentation at the 20th year anniversary celebration of the Swedish Association for Software Testing (SAST), a non-profit organisation that provides a forum for testers in Sweden to share insights and stay abreast with the latest developments in their field.

As promised in the previous blog post, this week I’ll expand a bit further on four trends that are impacting agile testing teams and organisations right now.

I’ve spoken at great length about these points at the SAST event, so here I’ll offer an overview of what I said for test management trends.

Check these test management trends in detail:

#1 – Agile is the norm for testing and business sides

Agile is being used more and more on the business side.

The next step therefore is to scale agile, and this time not by letting one more team work agile, in scrum of scrums and the like, but rather to get the business side up and running.

It is not possible to work according to a project management model or maintenance model that uses tollgates, phases, milestones, when we are advocating that teams should organize themselves and decide how they should work to accomplish their tasks with the right cost and the right quality.

The next step will be agile business, agile business planning and agile budgeting.

As an example – a one year maintenance plan is not very agile. You have to think smarter and plan in shorter increments.

For a time it has been more or less okay to not have everybody work agile.

Perhaps the IT department works agile while the business side works in phases. Maybe the supplier works agile and the customer works waterfall. This is not a sound working practice. You have to shift to agile approaches now.

Transforming an organization from waterfall to agile takes a lot of time so you need to start as soon as possible.

Of course some development work will not be done agile, but the important to understand is that agile now is the norm, and other ways of working will be more marginalized. Agile will be the norm.

Can we then handle the change?

Yes, we are much readier now to implement the changes described above than we were a few years ago. We change smartphone every year and Google changes the interface every day. We are more and more open to change. This makes us more prepared to work agile.

#2 – Scrapping manual automation testing

Thanks to techniques such as test automation, and a number of modern buzzwords such as TDD, XP and CI we finally can focus on what is important here and now, namely the latest released functionality.

We no longer have to repeat manual test cases that we know worked last time we executed them.

Previously, we used to have to keep in mind that there was a bug in a part of the system a long time ago and we might to have to retest it to confirm that it still works as supposed. Since more and more testing is automated, we don’t have to remember this type of information anymore.

Thanks to test automation we can finally decrease the time for acceptance testing to a minimum.

Instead of acceptance test periods stretching over a number of weeks, we can perform acceptance testing as a sprint demo or equivalent only for one hour every week or every second week.

#3 – The emergence of T-shaped testers

It is only coincidental that the word T-shaped and testing starts with the letter T.

It used to be fairly okay to be really talented in only a single area, for example test management or programming in Microsoft C#.

Now and in the future you still have to have your number one skill, but you also need to have a broader skillset so you can work on other close related tasks.

Test leaders don’t need to be skilful programmers, but everybody working in testing should know at least the basics of requirements management, so that they can take active part in requirements discussions.

#4 – The migration of business testers into the development teams

Usability tests is a good example of an activity that traditionally has been managed by some other discipline than test management, if performed at all.

It has often been taken care of by an UX specialist or requirements management. Today and tomorrow it is expected that a test leader can plan and execute usability tests as a part of testing.

It is also not good enough to only master for instance system or acceptance testing. A very strong trend is to move business testers into the development teams. This leads to more business testing taking place on earlier test level.

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