Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Test in Process: Agile

Before we start our standard test in process post, let's talk about "Agile". "Agile" isn't a development process any more than "Waterfall" is a development process. Instead, "Agile" is a family of processes including Extreme Programming, Crystal, etc. That being said, I walk into a lot of companies that claim to be using "Agile process".

Beware. Here be dragons.

What this usually means is that the company doesn't really have a development process. Instead, they have some ad hoc practices and maybe some home-grown methodologies that work for them.

How I got here:

Well, I work for one of these places.* Their software development process is centered around a team that's been together for several years and knows the software very very well. Everything else is luck, a good QA team, and a lot of fast bug fixes.

The role of test:

In this role, test is mostly intended to control the chaos. There aren't a lot of controls to prevent defect creation, so test is extremely busy finding defects. There are a lot of defects caused by these ad hoc changes.


There is almost no time spent in process improvement meetings (kidding!). In addition, having little to no actual process generally means that the environment is a good target for incremental improvement. You don't have to prove why the old process is bad before you can prove why the new process is good; you can just skip straight to why the new process is good.


Despite the old aphorism, order rarely comes out of chaos! This kind of process is a good way to overtax your test team, overtax your development team, and ship software that you can't say is good or bad. You will almost certainly wind up with a whole lot of firefighting.

In the End:

This isn't sustainable. If you can't help create a process, get out. Having a light process is okay; having no process is not.

Other Posts in this series:

Test in Process: A Series (

Test in Process: RUP (

Test in Process: XP (

Test in Process: SCRUM (

* I work here until October 12th. Then I'm going to work at my new job (

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