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A story about mini-waterfall. Interview with Janet Gregory. Part 2

Sometimes teams work really well, delivering and testing stories as planned. But when the customer sees the finished product, they are not happy, or they find some major issues. What to do in this situation?
19 March 2015
Agile
Interviews
The article by a1qa
a1qa

If you missed first part of the interview, read it here.

a1qa: Why you claim “Look at the Big Picture” as one of seven success factors?

Janet Gregory: Sometimes teams work really well, delivering and testing stories as planned. All is going really well, but when the customer sees the finished product, they are not happy, or they find some major issues.

This problem often occurs when the team forgets that there is a larger feature that the stories are part of. The product backlog may be a list of stories that have lost their context. A feature is the business capability the customer really wants. That feature is broken up into many stories and unless teams are constantly looking at the real problem (the business need), they can end up delivering the wrong thing. The other part to this success factor is the system as a whole.

There are impacts to that system that a single story may not take into account. Te In this second part ftsters looking at the big picture can often see those impacts and help identify some of the issues early preventing delays later.

a1qa: Programmers as testers: why programming skills can be a plus for a tester?

Janet Gregory: This is a very controversial question these days. Many people take that to read that testers must be able to code production code. I do not. I think it is definitely a plus to be able to read and understand code so that testers can discuss risks, tests and design with the programmers.

I also think programming skills are good for helping with test automation. The term that Lisa and I use in More Agile Testing: Learning Journeys for the Whole Team, is ‘technical awareness’. It is a phrase I first heard from Lynn McKee and I took it to heart. Technical awareness might mean programming skills, it might mean database knowledge or perhaps more about embedded dev.

Technical awareness is context sensitive so what is an important skill on one team, may not have as much importance on another. Testers should strive to learn what is important to add value to the team they are working with, and yes… that might include programming skills. To end this question, I will say emphatically, I do not think testers need to be able to code production code. That does not mean they are not capable, but there is so much other value they offer to the team.

a1qa: You teach a 3-day Agile Testing Course. What is the most difficult thing about teaching Agile?

Janet Gregory: I’m not sure teaching agile is a problem. Most people get the concepts fairly easy. Putting it into practice is another matter. In my course, I try to get the attendees to really experience what that means. I teach the theory, but then work through a case study with exercises so that the participants really experience what that theory means.

Those are usually the ‘ah ha’ moments for them. The difficulty is often in letting go of what they had considered best practices for many years. When a student comes up to me after class and says “it now all falls into place”, any of the struggles during the class was worth the effort. Those ‘light bulb’ moments make it all worthwhile for me.

Janet thank you for sharing your ideas and experince. We hope to talk to you again. 

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