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Improving Collaboration of Testers and Developers in Agile Teams

by Ben Linders on May 23, 2013 |

Agile teams are usually cross functional, which means that they have people with different competencies like developers and testers. Collaboration between the team members helps to make teams successful. Let’s take a look at what scrum masters can do to help testers and developers to work together in agile teams, and improve collaboration?

In the blog post when developers and testers collide, Len Lagestee takes a look at dysfunctional situations between developers and testers in teams. He starts by describing what can happen when testers become members of an agile team:

When we begin introducing agile into organizations, the impact is often strongly felt by the testing community. Testers are an easy target when bugs are released into production and are often the focus of blame. Because of this, testing groups have built heavy processes and sign-offs to protect themselves from what they know will be coming later. Trust will need to be restored before testers will fully engage and freely interact with a team.

To make agile teams work, team members have to respect each other, and value each others opinions. Len suggests that a scrum master should act on this when an agile team is formed:

Start small but start with something. If the relationship between developers and testers has a history of being toxic in your organization it will not go away on its own and the effects of the dysfunction will only be amplified on an Agile team. Quality must be a team event.

He suggests several things that can be done to "build (or rebuild) a foundation for the testers and developers to form their relationship on":

  • Learn about customers together.
  • Build stories and acceptance testing together.
  • Mature your definition of “done.”
  • Create unit tests together.
  • Emphasize conversations around quality and “done” over tools and process.

ShriKant Vashishtha describes in his blog post developer first test automation why it is important that developers and testers work together in agile teams:

People in Agile projects are moving away from “developers vs testers” (we vs they) culture and are collaborating in order to deliver the product at the end of sprint. Sprint success is major goal instead of developer or tester success.

He has tried an approach where developer and testers together develop the test cases:

Developers suggested to write the first functional test of the user-story themselves, which laid the foundation and provided all required resources to build further tests. While developing those tests, developers identified many issues which otherwise would have blocked testers. As developers eventually fix these issues, it made much more sense that they themselves discover those issues.

Based on this basic foundation, testers further elaborate the test cases and create more automation tests. The norm worked pretty well for the team and also helped developers understanding the issues testers face on daily basis.

Ole Lensmar shares his experiences from the StarEAST conference in Orlando, in testers and developers, please learn to get along. He starts by emphasizing the need for collaboration between testers and developers:

Shouldn’t we all be on the stage together talking about real-life experiences where testers and developers helped build great products – together? Shouldn’t we be sitting together running tests and debugging code to create the most beautiful software out there?

He mentions several suggestions that he heard at the StartEAST conference, which can be used to break down the walls between testers and developers:

  • Introduce pair test-programming
  • Install and learn each other’s tools
  • Go to hackathons together!  
  • Treat testers and developers as one integrated team

The blog post testers vs developers: how to make them being friend? describes what you can do to make the relationship between designers and testers friendlier:

  • Sharing. Share your thoughts, strategies with developers. Don’t leave it till it’s become a screw.
  • Be friendly and open-minded with developers so that they don’t feel wounded. Give them the opportunity to share anything with you.
  • Keep your reporting style positive. Try to be more tactful.

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