Quote of the Month July 2018 – Agile Testers as Customer Advocates

Traditional testers often don’t like agile because without detailed specification documents they are suddenly unable to do their jobs. This is because they consider their job being to compare the working system to the specification, and report where there are discrepancies. If you think about this for a second, the only thing they are checking is how closely the developers followed the specification. This actually says nothing about the quality of a product, or more importantly if it is fit for purpose.

We call this work “checking”. You know what’s really good at checking? Computers! Checking that 1 + 1 = 2 is easy work for computers to do, and they will get it right every single time. They don’t get bored or tired or distracted. With agile testing simple checking should be automated so that testers can be freed up to do the kind of work computers can’t do. Things like exploratory testing or usability testing.

In agile, testers need to become customer advocates. They need to deeply understand who their users are and what they are trying to achieve with the product. They should be the representative of that customer in every design decision, ensuring that the feature meets the customers actual needs, not just the specification, or even what they asked for.

When a user asks for a feature, ask them: “How would you test that?” or “How will you know if that works?”. This can help understand the real result the customer is looking for. Translating that into acceptance criteria for the team can ensure the product does the right thing.

Source: Growing Agile: A Coach’s Guide to Agile Testing, Samantha Laing and Karen Greaves, http://leanpub.com/AgileTesting