I want to discuss your value in this blog post. But in order to make the point and get your attention, I’ll shine the light initially elsewhere and then circle back around. We’ll see how this goes…
What I want to talk about is testing and testers…of the agile variety. I often ask new agile testers what is their value proposition? How do they earn their keep—so to speak? Quite often I get some of the following responses:
- Writing test cases
- Finding & reporting bugs
- Triaging bugs
- Running test cases
- Smiling and frowning – depending on the applications’ state
- Writing status reports
- More testing
Usually the answer aggregates toward—I need to be testing 100% of the time to earn my paycheck and prove my worth. No, make that 125% of the time.
This essentially makes me sad. Why? Because within an agile context I consider testing to be the least valuable contribution that a tester can make to their team and project context.
It’s by rote. It’s proverbially trying to “test in” quality. It’s a late binding exercise that is intended to only find faults. It normally provides feedback too late. And it’s not collaborative—with developers and testers throwing the code / bugs back and forth over their functional walls.
And it uncovers only small percentage of those faults that can be found. There are always many bugs that are quite simply never found.
So…where IS the Value?
So, if the value isn’t in testing, where is it?
I firmly believe it’s at the front of the line or the front of the process. By helping the customer define their User Stories…incredibly beautiful and well-crafted user stories. By helping define & refine acceptance tests as part of each Story. By influencing the Customer + Developer + Tester collaboration around the Story to ensure that everyone is on the same page. So that the problem they’re trying to solve is clear and the approach is on-target.
By collaborating around:
- The Story definition
- The Story acceptance
- The Story story (Conversations)
- The Story example(s)
What a wonderful approach towards providing high value and creative solutions. We work as a team and talk to each other. Instead of sending email or writing expansive documents or scheduling countless meetings. We collaborate around the software and fine-tune it until it meets the customers’ needs.
So what does this have to do with the Business Analyst and value? As a BA, I want to reinforce that your primary value proposition is not:
- Writing requirements
- Reviewing requirements
- Verifying requirements
- Eliciting requirements
- Decomposing requirements
- Aggregating requirements
- Establishing Functional vs. Non-functional requirements
In an agile context.
All of those actions or activities are perfectly fine. But I’d like to reframe your value proposition around driving collaboration in what Ken Pugh defines as the Triad and George Dinwiddie defines as the 3 Amigos.
That you view your Prime Directive as helping to establish a collaborative culture where THE CUSTOMER, THE DEVELOPER, THE TESTER AND NOW…THE BA collaborate around working software and stories and examples and conversations—
until the customer yells—By George, I Think We’ve Got It!
Now there is a value proposition that, while quite a challenge to nurture and establish, is truly worth its weight in gold!
Thanks for listening,