Note that this post is part of a series where I am ‘live blogging’ my way through the ministry of testing’s 30 days of Agile Testing challenge.

How can you make your testing more lean?  The more of these challenges I do, the more I realize why they are called challenges.  It certainly is a challenge to figure this out. How can I make my testing process more lean?

A Theoretical Objection

I guess another way of saying this is, what waste can I cut from my testing process? My first instinct was, ‘I’m always trying to cut waste – is there more to cut?’ But then in thinking about it more, I realized that keeping a lean process is kind of like keeping a lean body – you need to work at it. If you ignore it, it will start to accumulate fat and waste. Over time, the exact same process will change from being lean to having a lot of waste. The software world is always changing and so our processes need to change as well.

What to do?

So with the theoretical objection out of the way, what fat can I cut from my testing processes as it sits right now? Hmm, I think I want to re-frame this again:  what problems have I recently faced that might be improved by changes to my testing process?

Well, the last iteration I’ve felt like I don’t have much to do. You might be jealous, but I think this represents a problem.  We’ve cycled from a high stress ‘must release now!’ work environment to one where there isn’t much too much to do while we wait for new projects to ramp up.  This is a general process problem that goes much wider than my testing process or my team’s process, but given that this is the reality I’m in, what can I change to address this issue? Much of my testing process revolves around getting builds, testing them, and giving feedback on them. That doesn’t work in the current context. For much of the work I’m involved with right now there aren’t any builds to get and test. If I want to smooth out the workload I need to figure out a process that helps me get ahead on work while there aren’t yet code artifacts.  I think this leads to two tweaks I could make.

Code Reviews

Code is still going in and getting reviewed.  By shifting a bit more of my time than usual to reading through code reviews, I will not only get a better grasp of what is going on in the project right now, but I might also be able to give some feedback at this earlier stage. I need to shift my process toward more engagement with other code artifacts like code reviews.

Builds and Infrastructure

Another way I could shift my process is to leverage the skills I have around getting builds setup and running and on getting testing infrastructure in place.  I could shift my testing process towards spending more time on those activities, both in getting better at them and in helping the team to set these things up so that I can get code to test sooner.

So how can I make my testing process more lean?  By changing the emphasis.  By moving a bit away from ‘just testing’ to thinking about other areas of the project that are hurting right now, and by shifting some of my activities into those areas.

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