The Agile Manifesto is the basis of the agile process framework for software development. It sums up the thought process of the agile mindset over the traditional waterfall methodology, and it’s the first thing we learn about when we set out to embrace an agile transition.
The Agile Manifesto applies to all things agile: Different frameworks like Scrum, DAD (Disciplined Agile Delivery), SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), and Crystal all stem from the same principles.
Although its values are commonly associated with agile development, they apply to all people and teams following the agile mindset, including testers. Let’s examine the four main values of the Agile Manifesto and find out how they can bring agility to teams’ test efforts.
Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
Agile as a development process values the team members and their interactions more than elaborate processes and tools.
This value also applies to testers. Agile testing bases itself in testers’ continuous interaction and communication with the rest of the team throughout the software lifecycle, instead of a one-way flow of information from the developers or business analysts on specific milestones on the project. Agile testers are involved in the requirements, design, and development of the project and have constant interaction with the entire team. They are co-owners of the user stories, and their input helps build quality into the product instead of checking for quality in the end. Tools are used on a necessary basis to help support the cause and the processes.
For example, like most test teams, a team I worked on had a test management system in place, and testers added their test cases to the central repository for each user story. But it was left up to the team when in the sprint they wanted testers to do that. While some teams added and wrote their test scenarios directly on the portal, other teams found it easier to write and consolidate test cases in a shared sheet, get them reviewed, and then add them all to the repository portal all at one go.
While we did have a process and a tool in place to have all test cases in a common repository for each sprint, we relied on the team to decide what the best way for them was to do that. All processes and tools are only used to help make life easier for the agile team, rather than to complicate or overformalize the process.
Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
With this value, the Agile Manifesto states the importance of having functioning software over exhaustively thorough documents for the project.
Similarly, agile testers embrace the importance of spending more time actually testing the system and finding new ways to exercise it, rather than documenting test cases in a detailed fashion.
Different test teams will use different techniques to achieve a balance between testing and documentation, such as using one-liner scenarios, exploratory testing sessions, risk-based testing, or error checklists instead of test cases to cover testing, while creating and working with “just enough” documentation in the project, be it through requirements, designs, or testing-related documents.