An agile process is not just a series of mini waterfalls

One of the common problems I encounter with teams new to agile is that they try to keep using the old over-the-wall hand-off methods they were used to in the waterfall world.

A manager I was talking wth recently lamented: “Our group is using agile techniques, but they aren’t working very well for the test effort. We are building the system in 2 week increments. Once the development team gets done with an increment, it is passed to us for system testing. The problem is that when we find bugs, we can’t get the development team to fix them because they are focused on the next increment, so either bugs build up, or the development team misses its goals for the next increment. This is causing a lot of process confusion for us. Any suggestions?”

Yes. I do have suggestions for this situation. The basic answer is that a team should not think of Agile as simply a series of short waterfalls. This automatically causes the problems described above. System testing must be integrated into an increment, not be a phase following development of the increment. During a 2 week iteration, everyone must collaborate on getting all the tasks for the increment done. This includes system testing. The increment is not done till the testing is done. If the finish date for an iteration arrives before the testing of a story is finished, then that story must be pulled from the increment and put back with the other unimplemented requirements. For a more complete and detailed answer, please listen to my webinar: How can a tester cope with a fast paced incremental delivery cycle

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