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A story about mini-waterfall. Interview with Janet Gregory. Part 1

Janet Gregory is an agile testing coach and process consultant with DragonFire Inc. She is the co-author with Lisa Crispin of Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams and More Agile Testing: Learning Journeys for the Whole Team.

She is also a contributor to 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know. Janet specializes in showing agile teams how testers can add value in areas beyond critiquing the product; for example, guiding development with business-facing tests. Janet works with teams to transition to agile development, and teaches agile testing courses and tutorials worldwide. She contributes articles to publications such as Better Software, Software Test & Performance Magazine and Agile Journal, and enjoys sharing her experiences at conferences and user group meetings around the world.
For more about Janet’s work and her blog, visit www.janetgregory.ca. You can also follow her on twitter @janetgregoryca.

jga1qa:You are in Agile for many years. Why you chose Agile as your specialization?

Janet Gregory: I’m not sure I chose agile as much as I fell into it .. at least at the beginning. My first introduction was to XP (eXtreme programming) was by a development manager. I was interviewing for the job of QA manager and one of his questions was “Had I heard of XP?”.

At that time it was very new to software testing outsourcing, and I had only a very limited knowledge, but we worked together trying to implement some of the practices and we were actually pretty successful, although I didn’t realize it at the time. As many other companies did at that time, we suffered layoffs and I went on to my next adventure. Probably the only QA person in Calgary at the time, I landed a tester contract with a team who was actively practicing XP.

At the end of that year, I knew I never wanted to go back to a phased and gated project as a tester. Being a tester on that agile team was so much more fulfilling than anything I had previously done, I decided to concentrate only on agile teams. For the next eight years, I worked with teams transitioning to agile – usually with a dual role of tester / coach. In 2009, Lisa Crispin and I published Agile Testing: A Practical Guide to Testers and Agile Teams to try to help as many testers and teams as we could make the transition more smoothly.

a1qa:What are the most common pitfalls that you face when engaging teams into Agile environment?

Janet Gregory: I think the most common problem I see is that testing activities are not integrated completely into the process. The team still views testing as an after-thought, and stories are not created with testability in mind. It is hard for programmers to start thinking differently about how they code so that each story can truly be ‘Done’.

I often get the call from organizations to come and help the testers keep up, and train them to understand how to do that. Most often, the problem is related to how the stories are delivered. For example, the stories may be too big and all of them are delivered at the end of the iteration at once. I call this a mini-waterfall. Teams haven’t really changed how they work; they just do it in smaller chunks.

To be continued…

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