Guest Talk @ ETMarlabs meetup for EUROSTAR 2017 #magicoftestinginindia

I was invited to present a guest talk at the meetup organised by ET Marlabs team for EUROSTAR 2017 on 9th Sep 2017- being the first of its kind in India and I gladly obliged! Presented a talk on Agile Manifesto and its learning for keen testers and answering our dilemmas in agile testing. The talk was very well received and brought out some great discussions with the participants. I was accompanied by another guest speaker Mr. Vinay Krishna who spoke about Behavior Driven Development BDD framework using Cucumber which was a very informative session too.

The team at ET Marlabs had also organised some great activities, testing relay game and quiz for the participants which brought out their testing minds and enthusiasm , which was well rewarded too! I would like to thank them for their kind invitation and would encourage them to organise and participate in more such community events!

Have a glimpse here –

Paying Off the Technical Debt in Your Agile Projects

Just as you should not take out a financial loan without having a plan to pay it back, you should also have a plan when incurring technical debt. The most important thing is to have transparency—adequate tracking and visibility of the debt. Armed with the knowledge of these pending tasks, the team can devise a strategy for when and how to “pay off” technical debt.

Learn about managing your technical debt and testing debt in agile teams and share your thoughts on my latest article published at www.stickyminds.com and also at www.agileconnection.com

***** Here are some excerpts from the article for my readers***

Technical debt initially referred to code refactoring, but in today’s fast-paced software delivery, it has a growing and changing definition. Anything that the software development team puts off for later—be it smelly code, missing unit tests, or incomplete automated tests—can be technical debt. And just like financial debt, it is a pain to pay off.

Forming a Plan to Pay Off Technical Debt

Let’s say a development team working on a new project started out following a certain programming standard. They even set up an automated tool to run on the code periodically and give reports on the adherence to these standards. But the developers got busy and stopped running this tool after a sprint or two, and when the development manager asked for a report after a couple of months, there were hundreds of errors and warnings, all of which now need to be corrected.

This scenario happens all the time with agile teams focused on providing as much customer value as possible each sprint. The problem then needs to be fixed immediately, because despite having all the functionalities in place, the team doesn’t want to release code that is not up to production standards.

The team is then faced with a few options for how to service the debt:

  • Negotiate with the product owner on the number of user stories planned for the upcoming sprint in order to have some extra time for refactoring the code
  • Dedicate an entire sprint to code refactoring
  • Divide all errors and warnings among the development team and let them handle the task of corrections within the next sprint, along with their regular development tasks, by scheduling extra hours
  • Plan to spread this activity over a number of sprints and have a deadline for this report before the end of the release
  • Estimate the size of refactoring stories and either plan them into upcoming sprints as new user stories or accommodate them as part of existing user stories

Though these are all viable options, the best approach depends on the team, the context, upcoming deadlines, the risk the team is willing to take, the highest priority for functionalities that need to be shipped, and the collaboration with the product owner.

Again, just like when you take out a financial loan, you should plan to pay off technical debt as quickly as possible using the resources you have. It’s a good idea to perform a risk analysis of the situation and reach a consensus with the team about the best approach to take.

Technical Debt in Testing

Technical debt doesn’t occur only in programming. Testing activities are also likely to incur technical debts over time due to a variety of factors, including incomplete testing of user stories, letting regression tests pile up for later sprints, not automating essential tests every sprint, not having complete test cases written or uploaded to test management tools, not cleaning up test environments before the next iterations, and not developing or testing with all test data combinations on the current features.

Sometimes debt may be incurred intentionally for a short term, such as not updating tests with new test data when testing on the last day of the sprint due to a time crunch, but planning to do it within the first couple of days in the next sprint. As long as the team has an agreement, it’s acceptable to defer some technical debt for a short while.

On occasion, debt may be incurred intentionally for a longer term by planning it in advance, such as deciding to postpone any nonfunctional tests, like performance or security-related tests, on the system until a few sprints are out and features are stable enough to carry out the tests. Again, as long as the team agrees with the risk and has a plan to address it, it is fine to defer certain activities.

Testing technical debt can get us out of tight situations when needed, but you still need to ensure that you plan carefully, remain aware of the debt, communicate it openly and frequently, and pay it off as soon as possible. Having a plan to service these debts reduces your burden over time and assures your software maintains its quality.

Debt-Solutions

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Avoiding having any technical debt is always preferable. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Every team has to devise its own strategy to prevent technical debt from accumulating, but a universal best practice is to have a definition of “done” in place for all activities, user stories, and tasks, including for completing necessary testing activities. A definition of “done” creates a shared understanding of what it means to be finished so that everybody involved on the project means the same thing when they say it’s done. It becomes an expression of the team’s quality standards, and the team will become more productive as their definition of “done” gets more stringent.

Here’s a good example of criteria for a team’s definiton of “done” for every user story they work on:

  • All acceptance criteria for the user story must be met
  • Unit tests must be written for the new code and maintain a 70 percent coverage
  • Functional tests must be performed, and exploratory tests must be performed by a peer tester other than the story owner
  • No critical or high severity issues remain open
  • All test cases for each user story must be documented and uploaded in the test management portal
  • Each major business scenario associated with the user story must be automated, added to the regression test suite, and maintain a 70 percent functional test coverage

Verifying that the activities completed meet these criteria will ensure that you are delivering features that are truly done, not only in terms of functionality, but in terms of quality as well. Adhering to this definition of “done” will ensure that you do not miss out on essential activities that define the quality of the deliverable, which will help mitigate the accumulation of debt.

Despite best practices and intentions, technical debt often will be inevitable. As long as the team is aware of it, communicates openly about it, and has a plan in place to pay it off as quickly as possible, you can avoid getting in over your head.

*************

‘INVEST’ing in good User Stories

User stories are the requirement specifications in their simplest form. Methodologies like Scrum use User story format to express the functional requirements of the software to be developed as –

As a <user persona>, I want to <do the action> so that <need of function>

This creates a deeper understanding of the behavior from a user’s perspective along with the business need and reason for the function, thus making the development of software easier.

But writing effective user stories isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are a lot of questions to be answered, like which functionality is one user story and which is too big and needs splitting up; what is the true sense of the user story; how to best express the functionality in words; which user personas are to be considered etc.

Getting the user stories right is an essential step to success of the sprints in agile, and for the teams struggling with it we have the INVEST principal as a guideline to be followed. This principal gives the attributes of a user story to be considered when writing and defining them so that they can make a robust foundation to our product backlog. Let us look at the principle in depth –

I – Independent

Means that each user story must be Independent as a functionality and be deliverable

N – Negotiable

Means that the user story be negotiable in terms of implementation, which necessarily means that the implementation details or ‘how’ to do the functionality must not be specified in the user story. User story must be business need and customer experience story.

V – Valuable

Means that the user story must create value for the customer. We should be able to see the reason and way the function will be valuable to the customer and this can be gauged by direct communication with the stakeholders, and can also be quantified in terms of ‘business value’ that we can associate with each story.

E – Estimable

Means that the User story must be clear and concise enough so that we can estimate the amount of work required to achieve it with accuracy. Any unclear parts, missing information or discrepancies must be clarified before we can finalise a user story to be taken up for development.

S – Small

Means that each user story must be a small chunk or slice of work. The development of one user story must be doable within one sprint and hence anything bigger than that would need to be further split down.

T – Testable

Means that each user story must be testable as a feature and have a unique new function get added to the product.

Letter Meaning Description
I Independent The user story should be self-contained, in a way that there is no inherent dependency on another user story.
N Negotiable User stories, up until they are part of an iteration, can always be changed and rewritten.
V Valuable A user story must deliver value to the end user.
E Estimable You must always be able to estimate the size of a user story.
S Small User stories should not be so big as to become impossible to plan/task/prioritize with a certain level of certainty.
T Testable The user story or its related description must provide the necessary information to make test development possible.

Keeping these points in mind when designing and formalising our team’s user stories will ensure that the sprint runs smoothly without unforeseen scenarios, glitches in implementation due to unclear requirements and re-work due to frequent changes.

Have more questions? How to achieve this?

Stay tuned for the next article where we will look at the steps to achieve the best user stories.

Happy Testing!
Nishi

 

ATA community growing with yet another awesome meetup hosted on 1st July @Allscripts Bangalore

I organised and hosted the ATA 14th Meetup Bangalore @Allscripts Bangalore on 1st July 2017 Saturday, which saw a great turnout of keen testers and agile enthusiasts from various companies. We had a great line-up of speakers, including Dr. Shankar Ramamoorthy who is a noted speaker and has led Keynote talks at GTR Pune 2017 too.

Below was the planned agenda and talks for the day.IMG_20170701_110713

All talks were appreciated by the audience and were followed by interesting Q&A sessions and discussions. We also felicitated some CP-MAT awardees with certificates and goodies, and speakers were also presented with token of appreciation certificates.

It is great to see the community expanding and so many passionate testers coming together for such meetups and events for knowledge sharing , learning and networking.

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Hope to continue this effort with help and support from corporates like @Allscripts.

Great thanks!

Nishi

Conducted a full-day “Applied Agile Testing” workshop @Singapore

Hey there!

The day finally arrived when I had the opportunity to conduct a full-day workshop in the beautiful Hotel Village Changi @Singapore on 16th June 2017, organised by 1.21GWs.

The workshop was titled “Applied Agile Testing” and was designed specifically to bring in practical agile knowledge to software testers looking for answers to their software testing dilemmas in agile teams. The agenda also included practical work, team exercises and a hands-on agile testing project with testing a live web application in sprints format. We focused on lean documentation and exploratory testing and each participant had a chance to bring out their keen testing skills and find the best bugs!

The audience was a good mix of people from different domains and varying skills and levels of experience. We had great questions and discussions during the day, enjoyed the networking over coffee and lunch, and an amazing response from the delegates. The team exercises and live project were a big hit! I received amazing feedback about the session, the topics and conduct and specially for the project.

Here are a few glimpses from the day –

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We also gave out hand-outs and certificates to all attendees for participation in the event issues by 1.21GWs-

Our delegate Mr. Rajesh Thomas from Semiconductor Technologies & Instruments was kind enough to share his feedback – here in his own words—

It was a wonderful workshop we had and it indeed helped me to learn on applying testing and its technique in Agile. The topics was very well arranged which helped us to sail gradually to the core subject. The techniques taught and applying sprint on real time project did help us to understand better”

More feedback by delegates –>

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It was a great experience and Singapore being the wonderful and welcoming place that it is offered us lots of love and appreciation! Hope to get there back again soon!! 🙂 🙂

Cheers

Nishi

I am speaking at the 1.21GWs Agile Testing Conference @Singapore

Hello !

Check it out — I am going to speak at the

“Agile Testing, Test Automation and Non Functional Testing Summit”

being organised by 1.21GWs @Singapore on 14-16th June 2017

Check out the details of the event at http://www.1point21gws.com/NFT_Summit/2017/Agile_Testing_Test_Automation_Non_Functional_Testing_Summit_Singapore/ 

I will present a talk on Innovation Games for Agile Teams on 15th June day of the conference.Nishi Grover Garg day2

And I will conduct a full day workshop on “Applied Agile Testing” on 16th June

Nishi Grover Garg day3

Be there! 🙂

Nishi