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What skills do Agile testers need?

The Agile team collaborates closely and makes a lot of changes. What does the ideal Agile tester possess in technical and people skills?

Automation is an important way to maintain the rapid pace of Agile development, and therefore, all members of Agile teams need to understand the fundamentals of automated testing.

Agile testers design test cases that are easily automated and assess automation feasibility based on potential for reuse -- for example, as part of a regression suite. Agile testers need a working knowledge of automation tools to recommend the most efficient and effective tools for the application under test and for the team.

However, it is not critical that all Agile testers have these automation skills. The tester's role is broader than that of an automation engineer and requires a more comprehensive range of abilities: technical, organizational and people skills, as well as the ability to adapt to change.

Expertise of Agile testers

Agile testers organize their plans and streamline test designs quickly, yet effectively. The best Agile testers are excellent communicators and create limited but meaningful documentation. They tailor the software quality story effectively to reach each stakeholder and understand what to report to each.

Collaboration is a critical skill for Agile testers, who work as integral members of the team. They champion quality in everything the team does, alongside developers and business stakeholders.

Finally, Agile testers are comfortable with constant change. This is probably the most important skill, yet the most difficult to acquire. Welcoming change is integral to Agile, in every role.

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Where have Agile testers needed automation within your enterprise?
I believe the most important part has been overlooked. Given the acceptance tests should be defined by the people who are going to accept the product [aka business/users/stakeholders], "works as intended" is accomplished by the developers with various tests ranging from unit tests to integration tests, all "definitive" (do this, check that) tests should be automated....

The role of the tester is to do "exploratory" testing....those things which can not (at least from any practical sense) be accomplished with the items in the previous paragraph.

Unfortunately, few teams/organizations invest much in this area, even though it has been repeatedly demonstrated that this type of testing is what catches the most defects that commonly make it into production environments...the "surprises".