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Agile Testing – Project management perspective

Project managers are very different from programmers. But then again, there are also many similarities when it comes to their relationship to testing. In this post I will mention the PMI community as well as facilitation communities Innovation Games and Gamestorming. The biggest reasons for my learning within these communities relates to leadership.

Before continuing, read my previous posts in this series:
Bridging communities
Agile Testing – Traditional testing perspective
Agile Testing – Agile perspective
Agile Testing – Programmer perspective

Project managers and facilitators

Like the programmers, also project managers as a community is very diverse. Even worse, their craft extends beyond software development to all other businesses. Realizing this was a huge stepping stone for me when I started to attend PMI seminars and discussing projects and project experiences with the people there.

The same goes for discussions with my father with the background of a Civil Engineer that has done quite a lot of managing construction projects and worked with quality in the same areas. Discussions are usually interesting and fruitful up to the point where we agree to disagree about fundamentals. For example in a software project it is very much possible to change your mind regarding architecture or change the type of database used in the middle of a project. But for a construction, it is not so easy to rebuild the foundation after you have added two stories to the building.

So for the PMI community where the syllabus bible is the PMBOK, I always make sure to mention that I work on software projects. That also scares people away if they know they dont understand software. Unfortunately though, it also attracts way too many people that work with software projects but still don’t know about the fundamentals. It scares me.

Another flavour of project managers are the Agile ones, that I mentioned in a previous post. Many of them are really more of project facilitators working with Innovation games and Gamestorming as their preferred tools. I really like to how they leverage the gaming mindset with humans in situations that otherwise can be about taking tough decisions. The gamers that I have been in contact with in software mostly have technical background.

Agile testing?

The traditional project managers have just recently adopted Agile. Agile as a topic is new for this years PMI Global congress and their Agile additions to the PMBOK were added just a year or two ago, its that new. Now for the project managers involved in software development, they have had to put up with Agile for a while now. Some have succeeded while some just think they succeeded, while listening to their stories its obvious they didn’t understand yet.

Talking to them about Agile testing, you might as well just explain to them what testing is really about. Its not until you work with them that you can really get them to understand what the value of it is. There is also big challenges in trying to explain the new thing about Agile with things related to quality, since the quality bits and pieces within PMBOK does not really fit into the Agile model.

The facilitators as I said earlier stem to the more Agile crowd. The generalizations I made about the Agile wave suits this group very well. An area however that these people excel, is the underlying curiosity of de-mystifying the people parts of things. I myself like the approaches and use them myself when it comes to testing. But as I have explained my approaches to people in this crowd, there is scepticism about the needs for which I am using /their/ games. The thing I have seen is that these facilitators greatly work with a proactive mindset, clouding their judgement when it comes to reactive activities like testing.

Thoughts

If

  • Agile is not really in your vocabulary
  • You think project management is a craft that can be applied to software without knowing about software
  • Your most common focus is about being proactive

Then you don’t really care about anything called Agile testing! You might not even care about neither Agile nor testing =)

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