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The Scrum apocalypse: changing the way we implement Scrum

I love Scrum. There, I said it. Yes, I know I am a married man, and I should not have another love next to my wife, but it is true and I am proud of it: I love Scrum. Every time I read the Scrum guide, I get butterflies in my stomach. It is like that one hot summer back in your teens, experiencing your first summer love. I love it. I may even be addicted to it. Last year, I wrote a blog about the Zombie Scrum apocalypse. I wrote about how we all should fight it. Heal the Scrum zombies and return to the heart and soul of Scrum. And to the butterflies in your stomach.

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An internship at spriteCloud

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Recruitment

We’re hearing from spriteCloud’s Commercial team again this week. Our new Marketing Intern, Rebecca Hogg, talks about what she has learned in her first month.

Learning the value of software testing

When I joined spriteCloud a little under one month ago, I was a total beginner when it came to software testing. The concept is seemingly easy to explain, but as I’ve learned, it goes much deeper. For example, did you know how many different things you can test when it comes to software? spriteCloud provides services such as functional testing, test automation, performance and load testing and mobile testing, and it doesn’t stop there. I knew software was complicated, but this is a real specialty. I’m still only scratching the surface when it comes to fully understanding what software testing is, but what I have learned has taught me that testing is a vital step in the software development life cycle.

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Testnet Spring Event 2017

Testnet – the largest professional organization for testers in the Netherlands – hosts yearly a large number of events. This year, the Testnet Spring Event 2017 was organized on 15th May. The theme was ‘Widen your base: new skills for testers’, with a variety of workshops and presentations.

One of these workshops was ‘Storytelling for testers’ hosted by René Tuinhout and Marinus Stam. This workshop gave a short introduction to storytelling with practical examples and Do’s and Don’ts. The workshop focused on how to build up a story, and how to tell the story. How to write the story is a logical next step, but not covered in this course.

So, why Storytelling?

Storytelling in software testing is an important aspect for testers, because we do it all the time. The trick with storytelling is to make the story powerful. Telling and writing stories can be used when creating test reports. A test report is a description, explanation or justification of the status of a test project, and is set up professionally and with care to serve the clients. A report is not just a summary of facts; it is a story about the facts.

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The zombie Scrum apocalypse is upon us!

A couple of weeks ago, I met them. In real life. Scrum zombies! It was at Scrum day Europe 2016. Scrum day is not their natural habitat, they were brought in by two highly skilled Scrum zombie fighters as examples of what can happen when you are touched by the Scrum zombie virus. The zombies were examples shown in the workshop, ‘How do we survive the zombie Scrum apocalypse’ by Johannes Schartau and Christiaan Verwijs. I am going to summarize their workshop and then elaborate a bit more of what I think is the role of the tester in fighting the zombie Scrum apocalypse. For a more detailed view on zombie Scrum, please check their blog.

What exactly is the zombie Scrum apocalypse? And more important; am I already a zombie, maybe even without knowing it? The main problem with zombie Scrum is that it looks like Scrum; the team consists of a Product Owner, Scrum master and a Development Team. They follow the Scrum events; they work in sprints, do sprint plannings, have a daily scrum, sprint review and a sprint retrospective. They have the Scrum artifacts. But they are missing out on the purpose of their work; they don’t seem to deliver working software at the end of the sprint. They miss out on what is the core of Scrum.

Of course, there are other symptoms. Zombie Scrum teams desire no contact with the outside world; they don’t want to get involved with their customers, they don’t care if their poorly built application breaks the end-users machine. They did their job; delivering code. QA failed to catch the bugs, design failed to create a nice look. Not their fault! Whether or not their sprint succeeds or fails, the zombie Scrum team is not affected by it. They don’t try to improve, they just sink in the swamp they created for themselves. They become numb. In a worst case scenario, the Product Owner is absent most of the time, the Scrum master has multiple teams to take care of, developers are often being swapped between teams, so there is no stability. Zombie Scrum teams go through the motions of Scrum, but miss out on the fun in Scrum.

There are many causes of zombie Scrum. Probably the most well known cause (I guess we have seen it all) is the company that want to adapt this fancy new way of developing working software (#hype!). They rename the project manager to Scrum master, start to work in sprints, call the development team Scrum team and there you have it: the company is Scrum. The team slips in a non-productive way of acting-Scrum and starts showing above mentioned symptoms.
Another cause may be the lack of urgency zombie Scrum teams feel. They don’t feel the urgency to connect with their customers to deliver valued, working software. They don’t feel the urgency to learn from their mistakes. Every situation is different however, so take a moment to think about other possible causes of zombie Scrum.

So, having read all this and getting a little depressed by the fact you recognise some of the symptoms; what are we going to do about his? And, for me as a tester, what can I do? How can I contribute to healthy Scrum? As a tester, you are usually working in close collaboration with the developers and the product owner. Talk to them about quality and the importance of delivering working software. Help the product owner by testing his requirements beforehand. Clear requirements will help the developers build working software within the sprint.
Personally, I think the most important way of improving the way your Scrum team works is by talking about what you are building and how you are building it. Talk about your definition of ‘done’. If your team doesn’t have one, try to establish one. Make sure quality assurance is an important part of it. When you are testing, make sure to check if the definition of done is met. If not, discuss your findings with your developers; how can we make sure the software meets the definition of done and we can meet the goal of Scrum; deliver working software every sprint.

There are more ways of improving your Scrum team as a tester, but most of them come down to communication. Communicate with your team about the process and about how you contribute to the sprint goal. Raise your voice in the retrospective. Talk about the purpose of Scrum and make sure you are contributing to it.

If you think you are in a zombie Scrum team, don’t get depressed. Show your team that when you improve, there is fun in Scrum!

What is the benefit of Scrum Master certification to a Software Tester?

Recently, I passed the Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) certification on Scrum.org. Reading the Scrum guide made me wonder: What is the benefit of doing the PSM I certification to a tester? Testers do not have a specified role in a Scrum team, they are just one of the guys/girls developing. But most functional testers like me do not have a lot of development skills. So, how can I be of value to the Scrum Team, apart from just being ‘The tester’?

What have I learned about it?
Starting from the beginning; what did I actually learn about Scrum? The main thing I learned is the shared responsibility between all the team members. Everybody is responsible delivering a releasable increment at the end of the sprint. To make sure this is going to happen, the development team is in the lead in about anything affecting the sprint scope. The Scrum Master and Product owner’s sole role is to help the development team create as much value as possible, by making sure nobody interrupts the team and the requirements are crystal clear.
What did I learn about my role as a tester? I learned that I need to stop thinking in distinct roles. Software Developers, Testers, Designers; we are all in this together. Together we make sure we create a releasable increment. We are all Developers, developing the increment. What Scrum does is breaking down the walls, sometimes existing between the different groups and making them work together as one team, with one goal. Developers can have a specialism, but that does not mean they should only focus on that sole specialism.
So, as a Developer with testing as my specialism, what should I do within the Scrum Team? Testing of course, but besides that, I think my value also lies in communicating with the Product Owner, helping him to refine the requirements. And together with the designers, I can make sure their designs fit the requirements (although it is perfectly valid to call that testing 😉 ).

Is it beneficial to testers to get the PSM I certification?
It is definitely beneficial to get this certification. It is especially beneficial to testers who work in a Scrum team, an agile team or an organization which wants to shift its development process to Scrum. Getting the certification helps you to really get what Scrum is and how it works. Seeing it in action in an organization helps you to see where the major difficulties lie. Based on that, as a tester, you can start to add value to the process and help the team progressing in becoming a more effective team, working towards one goal: building a releasable increment.

What level of tester should take it?
For a tester, it would be beneficial to first have some experience in working in a Scrum team. A substantial amount of the questions in the exam deal with real-life situations. You will recognize the situation more easily if you have worked within a Scrum team. I would recommend to get this certification after +/- 1 year of experience as it will show to potential customers that you have mastered the basics of Scrum and that you will be able to work within a Scrum team.

If it would be up to me, I would say every modern tester should get the PSM I certification. More and more companies are making the switch towards working agile and/or Scrum. To stay relevant as a tester, the PSM I certificate is a must-have.

How to pass the scrum.org Professional Scrum Master I exam

I passed the scrum.org Professional Scrum Master I exam earlier this year. Here’s how you can too.

  • Read this page to understand what the PSM qualifications are.
  • Read this page to understand what the PSM 1 qualification is.

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Gonzo QA: Fear and Loathing at Scrum Day Europe 2014 (part 2)

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Gonzo QA: Fear and Loathing at Scrum Day Europe 2014

A savage journey to the heart of evidence-based management for software organizations in 1,000 words or less

Dateline: 3 July 2014, Amsterdam

(Read part 1.)

Lunch-time sandwiches behind me, Forrester’s Diego lo Giudice’s Keynote: The State of Scaling Agile In The Age of The Customer roared into life in the ‘Grote zaal’. Sporting a sharp goatee and an even sharper suit, Diego started talking at 160 words per minute. Having warmed up on his introductory slides, he passed 250 words per minute on slide 4 and was soon speaking at speeds exceeding the limit of normal human comprehension, around 500 words per minute. Facts and figures filled the air. Nobody moved for fear of getting hit. Towards the middle of the presentation, smoke was clearly visible coming from the left hand side vent of his jacket. ‘*’-uniformed roadies immediately appeared on the stage and sprayed his torso with a thick coat of fire-retardant foam, allowing him to continue to present uninterrupted. Diego’s 27,500 word presentation finished without warning to deafening silence followed by thunderous applause. There was 5 minutes left for questions but we knew we had just witnessed a tour de force and there was nothing left to say.

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Gonzo QA: Fear and Loathing at Scrum Day Europe 2014 (part 1)

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Gonzo QA: Fear and Loathing at Scrum Day Europe 2014

A savage journey to the heart of evidence-based management for software organizations in 1,000 words or less

Dateline: 3 July 2014, Amsterdam

I approached Scrum Day Europe with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Ken Schwaber was giving the opening and closing keynote speeches. Ken Schwaber! Ken co-developed the Scrum process and signed the Agile Manifesto. He founded the Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org and I was going to hear him speak. Would the first row of seats be reserved for acolytes dressed in white robes? Would the audience chant his name? Would there be fruit juice to drink at the end? The man who wrote ‘Scrum’s roles, artefacts, events, and rules are immutable and although implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum,’ does not sound tolerant of dissenters.

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Is SCRUM Agile?

Most people would agree that the answer to this question is “yes”. And I’d count myself amongst one of those people. However, I’ve witnessed and participated in a lot of projects that use SCRUM, but failed with exactly the issues that Agile wants to avoid. How is that possible?

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Reputation. Meet spriteCloud

Find out today why startups, SMBs, enterprises, brands, digital agencies, e-commerce, and mobile clients turn to spriteCloud to help improve their customer experiences. And their reputation. With complete range of QA services, we provide a full service that includes test planning, functional testing, test automation, performance testing, consultancy, mobile testing, and security testing. We even have a test lab — open to all our clients to use — with a full range of devices and platforms.

Discover how our process can boost your reputation.