QA Role in Scrum: Leveraging Agile for Defect Prevention

Update February 19, 2014...  Another great evening presenting on Agile Quality!  This time at AgilePDX in Portland.  Many thanks to Diana Larsen for the invite, and to everyone who attended for the great conversation!

Links to the white-paper and slides here (or slides with animation here.)

East coast Agile enthusiasts: Hope to see you in April at QUEST 2014 in Baltimore!

October, 2013… Recently I had the honor of presenting my paper, QA Role in Scrum: Leveraging Agile for Defect Prevention, at the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference in Portland, OR.  What fun!  Great to meet colleagues and learn the varied ways everyone is advancing software quality.


2 thoughts on “QA Role in Scrum: Leveraging Agile for Defect Prevention

  1. Hi Karen,
    I attended your talk last night and would like to reach out to you about on a couple of points:
    * Could you send me the statistics you shared regarding how effective your QM approach to scrum has been? There were three points, and I just got the first one.

    * What test management tool have you been using for visibility of issues and test results to develepers and QA? I imagine it’s Quality Center, but wanted to make sure. Especially the “dashboard” feature when an issue is passed on from a developer.

    * Who is responsible for writing unit tests in your scrums? Automated integration tests? Are these tests run in CI-mode, and how are their results visible to the developers?

    – Rauha Rahkola,
    Catalyst IT Services


    • Hi Rauha,

      Nice to hear from you and thanks for the questions.

      Here are the metrics that illustrated our quality improvements as a result of the Agile transition:
      – Transitioned from quarterly to 2-week release cycles
      – Reduced overall defect count and deploy time:
      o 5% defect reduction for each bi-weekly release
      o Deploy time reduced from 4+ hours to 30 minutes on average, with some services on rolling upgrade (zero downtime)
      – Only one P1 defect in production in 26 releases (1 year)
      – 95% reduction in production hot-fixes

      – For defect tracking and test case repository we use ALM (latest version of HP Quality Center, renamed Application Lifecycle Manager); this enables metrics generation for defects and test case coverage
      – For agile lifecycle management we use Rally. This is our repository of user stories, product increments, and facilitates all sprint planning, burndown charting, progress metrics, etc.
      – The dashboard I spoke of is a feature in Rally. It’s called the “Ready to Accept” panel – it’s in the App Catalog that Rally provides, allowing you to customize your dashboard. This panel gives a dynamic listing of stories in your team’s sprint which the engineer tags “Complete”. Using this in your personal Rally dashboard enables instant notification to QA of when stories are ready for testing.
      Ideally of course we’d prefer one tool for all, but in such a large corporation there are costs to using different tools across the organization. Additionally, each tool falls short in a key area, making them reasonably complementary: ALM doesn’t provide the Agile lifecycle management we get from Rally, and Rally isn’t robust enough in defect or test case management to support our needs there.

      Who writes scrum unit tests?
      – This varies across our scrum teams and depends somewhat on skill set, and bandwidth. Ideally developers write unit tests, with input from QA as to what the tests should contain. Sometimes QA writes the tests, or a combination of both. All tests are handed off after the sprint to our test automation team for integration into our regression suite. The regression suite is integrated with Jenkins and results are available to anyone through the Jenkins dashboard.


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