Realizing the Power of Agile Testing

In this interview with AgWorld, a company that undertook the Agile Testing course that I present through my company About Agile, we learn about their journey to Agile Testing.

In the six months since the course they have applied the ideas and reaped massive benefits from doing so.

I presented the course in a coaching style which they responded to positively and subsequently they really picked up the ball and ran with it afterwards.

They did all the work to achieve the benefits and recognize that the journey is not complete either.

ICAgile Agile Testing Expert Gate

In this recording of a webinar I participated in on January 28th 2015, Janet Gregory who is one of the track authors and has written the immensely popular Agile Testing with Lisa Crispin and now More Agile Testing again with Lisa Crispin, tells us about the criteria for achieving Expert Status in Agile Testing.

It’s quite a jump from taking a course and we learn that demonstrated experience over a number of years is key.  No exams here we emphatically say.

We also talk about the new book, More Agile Testing, and I pose some questions as well.  Janet and Lisa bring up Organisational culture early in the book and I commend them for this rather than assuming that it takes place.  I also liked the balanced reporting of views of the testing quadrants.  It’s mental model that has been in some quarters taken down in an unkind manner.  They report on the better variations and tell us not to take a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to its application.

We also had other panelists involved bringing in their expert views.  Thanks to Aldo Rall, Devin Hedge and Agile Bill Krebs.  Elinor Slomba once again handled the facilitation brilliantly over a difficult medium at times.

Technical Debt is Risk Management


Good to have clean code for less headaches. That effort you put in pays off for you and your customers handsomely. If you struggle with quality, start on your journey to improving. Get yourself a plan to improve.

Originally posted on The IT Risk Manager:

A few years ago I was lucky enough to work with Steve Freeman. Steve is the Gordon Ramsey of Software Development. If you have a badly formed code base, expect to hear about it. Steve worked with the graduate, Mark, on the team to “refactor”* some code. They created tests that clarified the intent of the code. Most impressive to me was that they reduced the size of the code base by 80%. Imagine you are editing a 200 page book with random duplication. Steve and Mark’s work reduced that to 40 pages and removed the unnecessary duplication. Everything was where it should be, and you only had to find something once rather than find a random number of instances. (Note: Some teams print off the code they delete and put it in a “book of dead code”) This was vital work as we were about to make significant…

View original 858 more words

Managing work with ScrumDo – Part 2

Continuing on with a series on ScrumDo, a board that is not as well known but sure to still gain more users especially for those that want to evolve their Scrum implementations.  You can read first article in the series here.

In this article I’ll present some extra features that I’ve discovered over the course of running several sprints over a couple of projects.

Multiple Sprint/Iteration View

In this screen shot we see multiple sprint views.  Selecting from the drop down we can check the iterations/sprints we’d like to see visible at one time.

Can view multiple sprints

This is been useful to move incomplete stories into the next sprint and to get a view of sprints over a release.  Here’s an example:

Use Multiple Sprint View to move to new sprint and some items into the input queue

Exceeding a WIP Limit

Here we can see the Doing/Done column has had it’s Work In Process (WIP) limit exceeded with the WIP value shaded in Pink.  This means I should really be pulling into Reviewing.

Done Column exceeded - need to pull into review - found I didn't need 52 as such because I was documenting as I went

I found that a the Doing/In Progress column WIP limit, based in Story Points, was too low.

Exceeding a WIP limit - will need to adjust it's too low

I eventually increased the WIP Limit as shown here:

WIP now set to 4 SP (If I stop using SP then I would have to switch to cards)

Scrumban for more flow

I found that I could progress to a more flow based replenishment of work, still within the context of a iteration.  No it’s not Scrum, it’s ScrumBan – at least I think it is.  I’ll leave it to others to decide on what is ScrumBut or ScrumBan (please leave a comment).  Teams can work out the best process for themselves from a sound basis.  In another project with another person we find this style works a lot better for the context we are in.

Scrumbanning - pulled in from Input Queue - fastidious scrum wouldn't permit this

Tasks can be Visible on the Board

A colleague and I found that having tasks with a story visible in some columns aids in visibility.  We used the board editor to amend the doing column to have this.  You will also notice buffer columns added to more visibly display that items were ready to be pulled into the next part of the value stream.

Reorganizing for Sprint 3 - partway through

Now for some Requests

Acceptance Criteria

It would be nice to have an explicit area for Acceptance Criteria.  We utilized the comments to achieve this, however it’s easy to lose them amongst the other comments.

Would be nice to have a section for Acceptance Criteria with Checklist, using Comments for now

Story turned out to be an Epic – keep the comments

Sometimes stories are too big and you do not realise this until later.  Now this can be tackled by improved story breakdown and this does happen, however stuff happens and things slip through.  I had one such episode where I had several comments against a story.  These turned out to be more like splitting comments, so I wanted to convert the story into an Epic.

I did this but I lost the comments as a result.  There were quite a few.  The friendly support staff restored a backup but it was too late.  My changes occurred with the window between backups.

Cool Features yet to be tested

ScrumDo has extensive integration with other tools.  GitHub integration looks cool, up against other tools that do this as well like

GitHub Integration 1

In upcoming posts I’ll show some more features like the reporting capabilities.  For example Cumulative Flow Diagrams.

A colleague has told me that he is liking ScrumDo.  It has more flexibility than tools like TFS.  Still some quirks, but overall we are pretty satisfied with the experience.

Best Posts for 2014

Reflecting back on this past year of blogging I’d thought I’d summarize the best posts of the year.  Some have been controversial and some have garnered a lot of interest.  I find the act of blogging helps me think through mental models.  They may be wrong and putting them up for scrutiny helps correct them or reinforce those models if mostly correct.

There was some 80 posts created this year.  Some of them are long at 2000 words or more and take a few hours to create.  Getting started on those can be difficult but then satisfying in the end.

The Most Popular

My review of L.David Marquet’s book Turn the Ship Around was the most popular mainly because my review was heartfelt.  The book really connected with me and the author also tweeted it and refers others to it for a summary.  My series on Personal Kanban was quite popular as well.


My Favourites

Again, my review of Turn the Ship Around is a favourite. My review of a Lean Enterprise presentation by Barry O’Reilly and Gary O’Brien was more controversial but still earned a like from Barry O’Reilly.

The Controversial Ones

The review of Lean Enterprise got at least one visceral response.  I also wrote about my feeling of dysfunctional teams after seeing the Hangover Picture constantly posted on LinkedIn.  I feel this got criticized for the wrong reasons as those criticisms ignored the feeling’s of myself and others and negated them by saying that those feeling were not valid.  This is in fact poor leadership and disregards the role of dissent in correcting incorrect behaviours.  It reminds me of my policy on listening, in my Policies section, which I feel many people struggle with.

The Unloved Ones

I really enjoyed interviewing Tadhg McCarthy of Adapt By Design.  Culture eats strategy for breakfast as stated by Peter Drucker.  This interview should have received more exposure.

Honourable Mentions

There are some more reviews in the Reviews section of my blog.  Reviews of Slack by Tom DeMarco and Scrum Product Ownership by Robert Galen deserve a mention.  My blog also paid more emphasis of the human side of work.  This article at the beginning of the year is one my my personal best, admitting that we all need to be better.

Some articles on improving work practices were included this year.  I quite liked this one on the role of the Business Analyst in the Agile Team.  Being prepared to fail and recognizing that this is a valuable thing was touched on in this article on my experience with Test Driven Development.

Looking forward to a new year of blogging in 2015.

All the Best – Nick

Agile Journey Index Assessments now Available

My company, About Agile, is now offering Agile Assessments using the Agile Journey Index.  If you’re interested in starting your journey or just improving along the journey this is a great way to start and About Agile can help you along the road as well.

More information is available at the Agile Assessments page on the About Agile website.

A Cloud9 Custom Runner combining TypeScript and Mocha

The online IDE Cloud 9 is just awesome.  It is amongst a number of online IDEs out there, of which I think it is the best.  With Microsoft also making .NET opensource and available on all platforms I can also see myself doing .NET development on this as well.  Yes I know there is Monaco from Microsoft but that is still immature and yes there is Mono on linux as well but that requires fiddling about.

At the moment I’m doing node.js development with expressjs and now with typescript in the mix as well.  Typescript looks awesome as well.  I’ve ported some javascript code over to Typescript and it feels really nice.

However, Cloud9 does not have a runner setup for typescript compilation so I decided to set one up myself.  Cloud 9 provides a way to do this by adding a New Runner from the Run Menu.  I created the following script that associates the .ts file extension with the tsc compiler.  It will also then run the associated mocha test which existed when the code was just pure javascript.  It does rely on a naming convention and directory location for the test, so as long as you stick to a convention you will be Ok.  Here is the script:

“cmd” : [“bash”, “–login”, “-c”, “rm $file_base_name’.js';tsc –sourcemap –module commonjs $file; mocha test/$file_base_name’Tests.js'”],
“info” : “Compiling Typescript file $file”,
“env” : {},
“selector” : “source.ts”

It uses bash to run multiple commands, one for the Tyepscript compiler and then followed by the mocha test runner.  Prior to running these command it deletes the previous .js file and if tsc fails the old file is still there and the test runner will pick that up still and we rather not have that.

I found when I converted the javascript implementation of the main file to typescript and compiled, my tests just worked.  The tests are still in pure javascript.  I’m still entertaining the idea of using Steve Fenton’s tsUnit but I fear it may not be as mature as the javascript test ecosystem.


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