Agile vs Fragile: Do testing tools have a place in Agile development?

Part 16 in a series of 17. To start at the beginning, first read Agile vs Fragile: A Disciplined Approach or an Excuse for Chaos.

In the traditional development space we are all very familiar with the testing tools that are available. We know about industry leaders such as HP Quality Center, QuickTest Professional and Performance Center.  We understand the value they add to large projects and how they are essential to ensuring that the testing process is well managed and delivered.  But what about Agile?  Do these same tools have a place in the agile framework?  Does the speed of Agile even allow for the use of testing tools?  The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES!  It always surprises me that people will embrace tools when they help development go faster, but completely shun them for testing because they will “slow” them down.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Now what I will concede is that tools only rate the speed at which you get to the crap you produce.  If you produce substandard products, then technology will only help you fail faster.  Tools can’t save you, but they can enable you to move faster and more consistently. They can make the difference between success and failure in a poorly documented project.

There are a ton of purpose built tools that are available to help Agile teams with testing related activities: Agilefant, XPlanner, IceScrum, Agilo, XPStoryStudio, XPWeb, and JIRA are just a few.  Many of them address testing activities, such as automation, or defect management.  What about Quality Center and the HP suite of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) solutions?  HP has done a good job of keeping pace with what is going on in the Agile space.  In fact, they do have a Scrum-based solution for Quality Center that provides the entire development organization with a solution that supports the entire management process of Agile projects:

  • Agile template built around Scrum practices (e.g. Sprints, Epics, User Stories, etc.)
  • QC modules are automatically synchronized to ensure ease of sprint management
  • Separate Wiki interface to enable simple management of user stories and tasks
  • Out of the box integration with standard development environments
    • Eclipse,
    • Visual Studio IDE,
    • TeamForge,
    • Tasktop task-focused interface.

The key for you to take away is that you don’t have to throw out your enterprise testing tools to do Agile testing.  Find how to integrate your testing tools into your Agile methodology.  If you are looking for ways to make your testing team more efficient, then implement a set of testing tools that helps them accomplish the same level and quality of work in a more effective way.  Yes, testing tools have a place in Agile development. They can’t make bad development better, but they can make your team more efficient and ultimately more effective.

In the final installment of this blog series we are going to explore some ways that you can break down the façade of your Fragile team and start changing tomorrow.  In the meantime…Keep on testing!

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Brian Copeland

About Brian Copeland (19 articles)

With over 25 years of senior level experience in the software development industry specializing in organizational transformation and development, Brian has been instrumental in the testing of critical business systems, from mission critical applications to commercial software. Mr. Copeland’s career has included 10 years as the Test Operations Manager for the Titan II, 34D, IVA, and IVB programs, managing both flight and ground software-testing facilities for Lockheed Martin. Mr. Copeland also served as the Sr. Manager of Quality Assurance for the shared services of Deloitte & Touché, LLP. His diverse experiences range across the aerospace, medical device, title insurance, legal services software, big four accounting firm, and banking industries. Brian led the global testing organization for The Nielsen Company, overseeing the successful transformation of the testing function made up of over 750 testing associates. Mr. Copeland has been a key-note speaker at the International Business Forum, and has been a featured speaker at HP Software Universe. Brian is a past president of the greater Cincinnati International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA), and holds an ITIL v3.0 Foundations and RCV certifications.