Agile is often used in combination with scrum, thus resulting in multidisciplinary teams and short release cycles. If we take these two points as a given, how do we adopt our test planning to be able to keep working? First I’ll describe a way to work, then I’ll give some pointers to take into account during the sprint planning.
When detailing the product backlog items, make sure the whole team has the same understanding of it. After the first detailing, developers can start creating and product owner, tester and analyst/designer can go over the specifics of the detailing. Then designer and tester can start making their corresponding designs. When done creating the specifications designer and tester review each other’s work to see if they described the same system. Any open questions after this reviewing should be resolved with the product owner.
Start executing test scripts as soon as possible. Share testing knowledge with the developers, so that they benefit from this knowledge when creating the unit tests. Make sure you stay informed about what is delivered to the test environment and then prioritize your test cases according to what was in the last delivery. Usually when the pressure on test execution starts to build, the analysts/designers in your team will be less busy. They can help you execute the script you already designed. When developers have time left, ask them to automate the tests you want to run in continuous integration or regression.
Bugs can be solved quicker and with less documentation than in non-agile projects. Discuss bugs you find within your team. In this way all members learn about the bugs found and help each other to find solutions. If the bugs get fixed directly after you find them, it might not be necessary to document them. This results in less time tracking bugs.
With the sprint planning, keep in mind that you need time for specifying, executing, automating and retesting. To fit everything in the small amount of time, use specification techniques which result in a small number of test cases with high coverage. Make sure that developers also incorporate time for unit testing and for fixing bugs. In the case you will not do the automation yourself, make sure that the responsible person (sometimes the developers) will plan this time.
Experience learns that setting some milestones for a sprint, e.g. first delivery start or code freeze, help the team to finish the sprint successfully.