A look at tests in Quadrant-2 – Business-Facing tests
On an agile project, the customer team and the development team strike up a conversation based on a user story.
Business-facing tests address business requirements. They express requirements based on examples and use a language and format that both the customer and development teams can understand. Examples form the basis of learning the desired behavior of each feature and we use those examples as the basis of our story tests in Quadrant-2
Business-facing tests are also called “customer-facing”,”story”,”customer” and “acceptance” tests. The term ‘acceptance tests’ should not be confused with ‘user acceptance tests’ from Quadrant-3.
The business-facing tests in Q-2 are written for each story before coding started, because they help the team understand what code to write.
Quadrant-1 activities ensure internal quality, maximize team productivity, and minimize technical debt.
Quadrant-2 tests define and verify external quality and help us know when we are done.
The customer tests to drive coding are generally written in executable format, and automated, so that team members can run the tests as often as they like to see if functionality works as desired.
Tests need to include more than the customer’s stated requirements. We need to test for post-conditions, impact on the system as a whole, and integration with other systems. We identify risks and mitigate those with our tests. All of these factors then guide our coding.
The tests need to be written in a way that is comprehensible to a business user yet still executable by the technical team.
Getting requirements right is an area where team members in many different roles can jump in to help.
We often forget about non-functional requirements. Testing for them may be a part of Quadrants 3 and 4, but we still need to write tests to make sure they get done.
There are conditions of satisfaction for the whole team as well as for each feature or story. They generally come out of conversations with the customer about high-level acceptance criteria for each story. They also help identify risky assumptions and increases team’s confidence in writing & correctly estimating tasks needed to complete the story.
A smart incremental approach to writing customer tests that guide development is to start with a “thing-slice” that follows a happy path from one end to the other. (also called a “steel-thread” or “tracer-bullet”). This ‘steel-thread’ connects all of the components together and after it’s solid, more functionality can be added.
After the thin slice is working, we can write customer tests for the next chunk.
It’s a process of “write tests — write code— run tests — learn”
Another goal of customer tests is to identify high-risk areas and make sure code is written to solidify those.
Experiment & find ways your team can balance using up-front detail and keeping focused on the big picture.
Quadrant-2 contains a lot of different types of tests and activities. We need the right tools to facilitate gathering, discussing, and communicating examples and tests.
>>Simple tools such as Paper or Whiteboard work well for gathering examples if the team is co-located.
>>More sophisticated tools help teams write business-facing tests that guide development in an executable, automatable format.
A look at tests in Quadrant-1 – Technology Facing tests
Unit tests and component tests ensure quality by helping the programmers understand exactly what the code needs to do and providing guidance in the right design
The term ‘Test-Driven Development’ misleads practitioners who do not understand that its more about design than testing. Code developed test-first is naturally designed for Testability.
When teams practice TDD, they minimize the number of bugs that must be caught later.
The more bugs that leak out of our coding process, the slower our delivery will be, and in the end, it is the quality that will suffer. That’s why programmer tests in Quadrant-1 are so critical. A team without these core agile practices is unlikely to benefit much from agile values and principles.
Source Code Control, Configuration Management and Continuous Integration are essential to getting value from programmer tests that guide development.
CI saves time and motivates each programmer to run the tests before checking in the new code.
An advantage of driving development with tests is that code is written with the express intention of making tests pass.
A common approach in designing a testable architecture is to separate the different layers that perform different functions in the application.
Teams should take time to consider how they can take time to create an architecture that will make automated tests easier to create, inexpensive to maintain and long-lived. Don’t be afraid to revisit the architecture is automated tests don’t return value for the investment in them.
“The biggest value of unit tests is in the speed of their feedback.”
Each unit test is different and tests one dimension at a time
Learning to write Quadrant-1 tests is hard.
Because TDD is really more of a design activity, it is essential that the person writing the code also writes the tests, before writing the code.
If a delivery date is in jeopardy, push to reduce the scope, not the quality.
Give the team time to learn and provide expert, hands-on training.
Technology-facing tests cannot be done without the right tools and infrastructure
There are many processes in a typical project that don’t transition well to agile because they require heavyweight documentation or are an inherent part of the phased and gated process & require signoffs at the end of each stage.
“Metrics can be controversial”
Measurements such as cycle time that involve the whole team are more likely to drive you toward success than measures confined to isolated roles or groups.
Lean development looks for ways to delight customers, which ought to be the goal for all software development.
Metrics that measure milestones along a journey to achieve team goals are useful.
When you are trying to figure out what to measure, first understand what problem you are trying to solve. If your goals are measurable, the measurements you need to gather to track the metrics will be obvious.
Figure each metrics Return on Investment and decide whether to track or maintain it. Does the effort spent collecting it justify the value it delivers? Can it be easily communicated and understood? Do what works for your situation. Experiment with keeping a particular metric for a few sprints and evaluate whether it is paying off.
“Projects succeed when people are allowed to do their best work”
Defects tracking systems (DTS) are too often used as communication tools & entering unnecessary bugs can be wasteful. Focus on using DTS for the right reasons.
Whether your team decides to create a test plan or not, the planning should be done. Each project is different, so don’t expect that the same solution will fit all.
Regarding Audits, Processes & Models
Traditional quality processes & process improvement models like SAS 70 and CMMI standards can co-exist with agile.
Quality assurance teams in traditional development organisations are often tasked with providing information for auditors and ensuring compliance with audit requirements.
Examples include what testing has been performed on given software release or proving that different accounts reconcile.
Testers can be tasked with writing test plans to evaluate the effectiveness of control activities.
Work together with the compliance and internal audit teams to understand your team’s responsibilities.
If your organisation is using some kind of process model or quality standard, educate yourself about it and work with the appropriate specialists in your organisation.
Process improvement models and frameworks emphasize discipline and conformance to process.
“Standards simply enable you to measure your progress towards your goal”
Working with existing quality processes and models is one of the biggest cultural issues you may face as you transition to agile development. All of these changes are hard, but when your whole team gets involves, none are insurmountable.
“Several core practices used by agile teams relate to testing.”
Programmers using TDD, code integration tests being written contribute to a successful project.
“Agile Testing just doesn’t mean testing on an agile project.”
Some testing approaches like exploratory testing are inherently agile, whether done in an agile project or not.
Testers are integral members of the customer team as well as development team
The best part of this chapter is Lisa and Janet’s wonderful stories on beginning with their first agile projects, and a realization by Janet’s co-worker, a developer in a team following XP on how they saw Janet’s contribution to the project.
“Testers don’t sit & wait for work; they get up and look for ways to contribute throughout the development cycle and beyond.”
Traditional vs Agile Testing
In Traditional approach – “Testing gets “squished” because coding takes longer than expected, and because teams get into a code-and-fix cycle at the end.
In Agile – “As an agile team member, you will need to be adaptive to the team’s needs
“Participants, tests, and tools need to be adaptive.”
“An Agile team is a wonderful place to be a tester”
The Whole-Team Approach –
“Everyone on an agile team gets “test-infected.”
“An agile team must possess all the skills needed to produce quality code that delivers the features required by the organization.”
“The whole team approach involves constant collaboration”
“On an agile team, anyone can ask for and receive help”
“The fact is, it’s all about quality – and if it’s not, we question whether it’s really an ‘agile’ team.”
I used to love books, reading was a fun and satisfying hobby for the introverted teen I was. But lately I may have gotten away from it for known and unknown reasons. I want to pursue the passion again and hold myself accountable too. So, this year I am starting a ‘Read Along’ series on my blog.
I have learnt agile testing by doing it, learning it hands-on, training & running courses on agile testing for professionals. I wanted to enhance my knowledge by reading the professional work by these awesome ladies.
So, I will be reading the book and will post about learnings, things to remember & quotable quotes from each chapter as I progress. This is to hold myself accountable, as well as to help people looking for good reads or learnings. Hope this helps you. Have you read this book? Do share your thoughts & learnings too!