I attended a Sydney Tester’s meetup yesterday: Help … Can you solve my testing problem?

Three attendees volunteered problems that were discussed:

  1. What is the role of a tester on an agile team?
  2. How to retain motivation in a challenging environment?
  3. How to test in a multi-tier environment?

1. what is the role of a tester on an agile team?

  • key issue: even on an agile project, management still need to be able to track (at least approximately) the percentage complete/to-go for the current sprint
  • discussed: ways of logging exploratory tests on the fly – for audit purposes, and as potential input into formal test cases
  • identified: test phase squeeze is an issue – coders overrun schedule => testers get squeezed
  • suggestions: involve testers earlier – when specifying user stories; move some testing responsibility to coders; various ways to predict effort required.
  • open issue: how much documentation is ‘sufficient’?
  • open issue: test automation should save time, but how to find the time to automate tests?

2. how to retain motivation in a challenging environment?

  • investigated: if overwork is the issue – concluded no
  • workplace specific issues: inexperienced developers
  • key issue: determined that test fail rate is very high – approx 75% of tests failing – led to discussion of ways to ‘train’ developers, also led to speculation that tester may be aiming for a higher level of quality than customer actually wants

3. how to test in a multi-tier environment?

  • key issue: tests depend on data which is pulled from/pushed to a chain of other systems which are not under projects control
  • noted the risk that available data will drive test selection instead of the other way around
  • suggestions: automated searching of data set for usable data, mocking data in database, mocking data by capture and replay at external interface.

Interestingly, at least two of these problems are people problems, not technical problems. The solution will lie in realigning someone’s expectations – perhaps everyone’s.