Home > agile, testing > Kanban + testing = ?

Kanban + testing = ?

September 11, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

“I have heard a little on Kanban, which somewhat could be called an evolved agile or at least something in that direction. What i now am interesting in knowing is if these ideas, that are sprung from lean very much, affect or should affect the view of testing. What I do know, is how I would like to perform testing in the agile context. So what about kanban? Does it change the agile testing even more?”

The above quote is how I started this blog post some time ago. I didnt know how to continue in a somewhat professional manner. Part of that was because I had not gotten any picture in my head about how kanban works.

Yesterday, I attended the monthly Agile Skåne meeting, and one of the topics that was brought up was kanban. Since I was not the only one that didnt have so much of knowledge in it, we got a crash course in the form of a success story. While listening, I got some kind of vision of it.

Since I have been working alot with scrum, I had to ancor this kanban thing in scrum. I will now see kanban as scrum with the shortest sprints you can have, the size of a story. Then I will take into account another thing from kanban, the value stream context, which in my perspective means having only two places on the board that are allowed to have piles of cards, that is “Wishlist” and “Value for customer”. Having only these piles, while other categories like “implemented”, “tested”, “ready for test” or “ready for deployment” are not allowed to stack cards, you will get a flow of value towards the customer without leaving stories behind as untested.

While thinking of this, I realized that one issue with agile testing that has been bothering me for some time, and still does, will be easier in kanban. Why does testing in a scrum team many times end up in the discussion on “definition of done”? This is exactly one of the bigger issues I see when testing in the agile context. With this and the value stream context of kanban in mind, I realized that the fact that you extend the number columns on the board past the “sprint demo done” will visualize the testing in a more obvious way. This has the positive effect that the agile tester does not have to advocate testing as hard as sometimes is the case within developers. In the agile context, you can always add some columns when realizing where you want done to be, but in kanban this is default, meaning that the tester does not even have to argue for getting the “To test” column on the scrum board.

By only looking at this aspect of it, and imagining a little more about the kanban context, I would say that kanban is better suited for test than agile and scrum are. But I think Ill have to get back to this later on when having more knowledge of kanban.

  1. September 11, 2009 at 19:13

    I’ve been doing Agile for 5+ years… I want to help, but I don’t know where to begin. Your post confuses me in several places.

    Check this out: http://www.crisp.se/henrik.kniberg/Kanban-vs-Scrum.pdf

    It’s a good description of Kanban vs Scrum.

  2. Sigge
    September 12, 2009 at 10:38

    Hi Kevin,

    Thank you, I am going to read up on it and discuss some more with my colleagues. This was a somewhat strange post to write since my knowledge of kanban is not as it is with scrum. That was the interesting part. I am going to continue this later on.

  3. Patrik Wikström
    September 14, 2009 at 17:09

    Hi Sigge,
    Nice blog you have here. If you haven’t seen it already I would recommend Chris McMahons blog post titled “against kanban”:
    I don’t know much about kanban myself but I found that blog post and the comments interesting. See you at Øredev!

  4. Fareesa
    September 15, 2009 at 04:58

    Hope you are doing well, I need some research input for a study based on Offshore Agile software development.

    It would be very kind of you if I may be able to get your participations for this research study

    The research form could be access at


    Your feedback will help me to conclude, which type of the software development is best suitable for offshore and Agile process model, and what kind of developmental strategies a company should adopt in a particular situation, or for a specific project type, for successful development of the offshore software project by using Agile process model.

    I will appreciate your contribution and support.

    Thank you

    Fareesa Malik

  5. Sigge
    September 15, 2009 at 07:30

    Nice to see that you have found my blog as well. Read the article and the comments, and I found them interesting as well. I will sure get back to this subject after a while of reading up on and thinking more about it. I also have a team that I can observe in this matter. See you at Öredev, of course!

    I tried to go to the form, but the link was broken. I will see to have time to look at it if you bring a working link.

  1. September 14, 2009 at 09:04

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