I think we can all agree that “agile” is no longer just a buzzword. There is growing enlightenment about the difference between “being” agile and “doing” agile, and agile practices are being adopted by organizations of every ilk and scaled to enterprises of every size. So, I took this opportunity to invite some agile experts and enthusiasts from the upcoming Agile Testing Days USA conference to weigh in on the agile trends they see making the biggest impact in 2018.
“It's tempting to redefine terms based on our own experience. People hear 'continuous testing' and assume they are [already doing that] because they are 'testing all the time' or they run automated tooling daily. The practice of continuous testing as we use it at Excelon requires hooking automated tooling into a delivery pipeline, running it frequently, inspecting the results, and adding other pieces to the equation to reduce risk in other areas.
"If you're getting serious about continuous testing, you are probably starting with the CI pipeline, creating virtual test environments, improving code quality before it gets to test, and reducing the regression rate. That is real, grown-up software development, and it is very different from buying an expensive GUI-based test tool and telling a tester to start using it.” ~Matthew Heusser, managing director at Excelon Development
“I have less of a prediction and more of a hope: Teams will show more understanding of value, both in the sense of 'What value are we actually bringing the customer and how can we test that it's working?' and also in recognizing the contributions of the whole team toward that value.
"We tend to focus on deliverables like code as value. I want us to realize that everyone working toward the product—be it as a developer, tester, documentation writer, product owner, ScrumMaster, or ops support—is contributing value with their skills.” ~Alexandra Schladebeck, head of software quality and test consulting at BREDEX GmbH
“Predicting the future is something I'm not good at. Still, one trend I'm pleased to see in the agile space is the lessening of the desire to try to predict the future. In its place, I'm noticing a growing focus on using rapid feedback from actual use of the application being developed to steer toward meaningful results. It's in the doing of the work that we discover the work that we must do. Doing exposes the reality.” ~Woody Zuill, developer, agile coach, and trainer
Back to Basics
“I am probably going against the trend for new, shiny bright pennies to look at when I say that I think we will see a trend back to basics. Organizations and teams will concentrate on delivering their existing products with better quality, while adding needed features to keep them competitive. Most of the questions I receive from teams are focused on how to improve their core products in an agile way.” ~Janet Gregory, agile testing consultant
“I think the biggest agile trend is the spread of mobbing beyond its roots in development into testing and every other team activity. In many ways, it feels like a logical team-oriented extension of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto. Continually working as a group with guarantees of a safe and open environment allows each person’s true skills to shine, regardless of role.
"This skills-based vision and the rapid feedback mobbing provides leads to better self-organization and an overall lower requirement for detailed processes and procedures and less churn. We end up with higher engagement and throughput, which makes stakeholders happy.” ~Brendan Connolly, software design engineer in test
Focus on the People and the Pipeline
“Even more focus on real human interaction, considering not only the team, but also other areas (as proposed in DevOps)—shift-left and shift-right testing, considering testing activities all along the development cycle, and even after the product is in the hands of the users." ~Federico Toledo, director at Abstracta
“Agile will start getting more mature in its testing practices. It’s not enough to simply run some tests and have them pass—we see more teams starting to really measure coverage and use innovative approaches to determine how much unit testing is enough and where to focus. Tools that help craft excellent unit tests and help maintain them will be the great Cabbage Patch doll of 2018.” ~Arthur Hicken, evangelist for Parasoft
SAFe Agile for Everyone
“A trend I've seen for non-tech-centric enterprise companies is the implementation of the SAFe model for their development branches of business. I think we'll see if that model holds for scaling agile. My one hope about this trend is that the folks on the business side of things seem to be more interested in being involved in the development process. That seems to be the real magic around SAFe.
Non-tech-centric companies and their business folks are going to get more tech-savvy, and agile will definitely be a factor in making that happen.” ~Melissa Eaden, software quality analyst
Distributed Agile Teams
“One trend to watch is the increasing involvement of offshore teams in agile development. Although collocation is important, as long as the developers and testers are in the same time zone, even if not in the same physical location, agile will work.” ~Gerie Owen, VP, knowledge & innovation at QualiTest Group, Inc.
“Teams already working on products in the cloud will continue to find ways to envision, code, test, and deploy even faster than they are now to edge out competitors and be as reactive as they can to trends in their customer base, especially as larger competitors move from on-premise to cloud-based solutions to keep up with the much more nimble agile shops and startups.” ~Erik Davis, test lead
“I believe we will continue to see organizations starting the agile journey and dipping their toes into agile practices. At the same time, organizations that have started this journey already will be pushing the limits and breaking the rules. Learning is becoming the currency of success, and that is true for all levels of organizations, from leadership to the most junior people. Putting that learning in practice in a low-cost and experimental way, I think, will become the differentiator of the true agile organizations (the ones that 'think agile' versus 'do agile').” ~Ardita Karaj, product and enterprise agile coach at Tango