Understanding the Agile Testing Process

It is commonly known that the agile testing process uses a unique approach to project management and it serves as a mechanism to unite teams centered on the principles of collaboration, it incorporates flexibility and places emphasis on simplicity. This process also requires a certain degree of transparency and responsiveness received from feedback. Because it uses this unique approach it is very effective when creating a new product or developing a new program.

Where Did The Agile Approach Come From?

Interestingly enough it came through some pretty intense discussion by seventeen men at a secluded lodge in Snowbird Utah. This team of computer engineers got together to create a new future for their industry. Here they discussed their favorite and not so favorite workflow practices currently available in the industry. After several days and nights of technical discussion they formulated a new digital manifesto. This new manifesto would create a lot of interest from IT professionals and software developers worldwide. The purpose of this meeting was not to create another project management method, but rather a revolutionary new mindset that would shake the IT industry from center to circumference.

Constant Feedback Equals Constant Improvement

So what makes Agile so great? As mentioned earlier, it incorporates constant feedback from clients, end-users, product developers and engineers. This approach seems more effective than the archaic linear approach widely used from 1979 until about 1985. This style of codifying information is commonly referred to as the “waterfall” method. This method flows in a straight line from requirements to design to implementation to verification and finally to maintenance. But the “ waterfall methods has limitations in that it creates bottlenecks in the development of new software products by limiting feedback to flow only from the top down. But, this is where Agile shines. Virtually anyone involved in the process can offer valuable feedback to any department and this frees up the creative juices of software or product developers to create a high quality product.

Is There a Critic in the Audience?

Naturally, any workflow process will have its critics and Agile is no different. Even with all of its positive qualities it still has some negatives that put on the brakes. The skeptics state that the workflow process is chaotic and unorganized. They say this miscommunication or over communication creates lower quality products and as well as various problems too many to name here. They also report that this experience leaves a bad taste in the mouth of product creators and software engineers alike.

So what happens if you are part of a team that is used to using another workflow process? Should you switch over because you believe it will solve all of your development processes, scheduling and management issues? You may be surprised by the answer. The answer is maybe. A lot depends on the size of the company and whether the employees are dispersed over a wide geographic location. While it may work well for small companies it may be counter intuitive for large companies.

So as you can see it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. In fact the critics of this process are not in the minority. Back in 2012 TechWeek Europe conducted its own research on the subject. More than 200 participants completed the survey and out of that number 64% said that switching to Agile was far more difficult than they were led to believe.

Scott Barber of SmartBear.com states,

Even though the trend leans toward Agile, it’s a misguided trend. When companies develop good software, and the people involved in developing software are happy working with the existing process, and if development is sustainable, and the business is doing financially well, there’s no need to make the switch to a new workflow process. And besides it has challenges just like any other culture, but the single biggest challenge I find are companies trying to solve development, process, management, and schedule problems by changing over. Teams who have grown up in a culture that is fundamentally linear will not find it easy to make the switch.

I Can See Your Future

Although I am not a fortune teller, I believe I can see the future for Agile. The mainstream software development world has already accepted the new workflow process. Many of the principles used in the new workflow will stand the test of time for many years to come. With all of that being said the workflow process is only effective when used in appropriate situations. The good news is the process offers a fresh approach to software development while stepping away from old, outdated workflow methodologies that just leave developers, end-users, clients and management exasperated and tired. The Internet age that we live in was partially shaped by Agile’s processes that stepped up to the plate when consumers demanded digital downloads instead of physical products purchased at your local computer store.

This ability to supply consumer demand by offering instant downloads increased online software sales exponentially. This trend is only going to go up; with buyers hungry for new software and mobile phone apps they can receive as soon as payment is made. As instant as the software downloads are, the fixes to bugs and software issues better be addressed as rapidly or these tech savvy consumers will just go elsewhere for the products they need. With new computing technologies available today, such as operating in the cloud; bug, glitches, and programming errors and other software issues can be fixed daily and in the background, often without the consumer knowing it is taking place. These advances allow Agile to move to the front of the line ahead of other outdated workflow methodologies. When used properly, these new methods allow software development companies to take a quantum leap ahead of their competition while competitors still use out dated, in effective methods to develop software solutions and offer maintenance for their products using linear methods. This is why the “Agile Testing Process” is better.

Summary

The new workflow process can be very effective for creating new software due to it cultivating a high level of feedback from all departments and all individuals involved in the process. The level of communication may seem chaotic at first until your organization adapts to the new workflow process. If you are a part of a large organization you may want to talk it over with your management staff and team to make sure that it is a good fit for your company and that it does not actually hinder the workflow and software development process. After all the “Agile Testing Process does not offer a one-size-fits-all glove for every company.

 

Mark Silver
Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.
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