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How can Agile methodologies be used with other methods?

How can software testers best combine Agile with other development methodologies? Software QA expert Gerie Owen describes how developers at organizations that don't formally use Agile can still benefit from the methodology.

Software testers can combine Agile with other development methodologies by applying the values and principles of...

Agile to choose the most effective and efficient test methodology for the testing challenge at hand. In order to do this, software testers must not only understand that Agile is more than a software development methodology, but also that they must "be" agile.

Software testers can be agile whether or not their organizations use Agile methodologies. Being agile means choosing the test approaches and tools that will best achieve the test objective. This could mean automating test cases and using an iterative approach for one type of project -- for example, a series of upgrade phases -- while concentrating more on exploratory testing on a project where usability is most important.

How do software testers become agile? One of the best ways is to follow the Shuhari approach. Shuhari is a method of learning which came from Japanese martial arts. Alistair Cockburn, who helped propel the Agile movement, applied the Shuhari method to coaching Agile teams in 2002. There are three stages of learning in this technique.

Students begin their training in shu. In this stage, the master demonstrates and gives directions to the students. The students follow the master's approach exactly, without variation and without understanding the underlying principles. As the students become proficient, they begin to learn the underlying principles and incorporate information from other sources. When the students reach ri, they begin to learn from their own experiences and vary their approach depending on the situation.

Ahmed Sidky, principal consultant of Sidky Consulting Group, Inc., said, "Agility exists in ri." This applies to software testing as well as Agile methodologies. When software testers are so competent in their craft that they apply the right test approach at the right time and in the right way, they "exist in ri" and become agile.

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This was last published in September 2014

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How do you think software testers can best combine Agile with other development methodologies? Do you think it can be done at all?
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In the words of Scott Barber: "Testing is testing, Agile is context"

A skilled tester will be able to jump between contexts and apply their skill set to the testing project.
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Another step that makes all project participants home-run hitters is
1) becoming a team member at the get-go, and 2) continuous, synchronous communication.
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the reral question is "how many shops that espouse agile methodologies are actually practicing it? In their development and programming disciplines, possibly, but too often I see companies that embrace Agile for their programmers, but keep their testers locked in a semi-waterfall world. Those companies that really make the effort to involve the software testers tend to be smaller, and by that virtue, more nimble in the first place. I agree with Justin, a good tester will be able to adapt to any environment, Agile or otherwise.
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