Making a Smooth Transition to Agile: A Tester’s Perspective

Agile Methodology Graphic

Would you like to make a smooth, successful transition from testing a Waterfall project to testing an Agile one?

Here are a few insights that can help you achieve your goal.


Any change is going to come with some challenges and the move from Waterfall to Agile is no different. The Waterfall methodology traditionally places testing at the end of the project life cycle and should include very clear and precise documentation, Agile is different.


  1. The tester is involved and integrated into the project from the beginning.
  2. An Agile methodology pairs testers with developers, formulating a partnership that may not have existed before.
  3. The tester may not be the only one testing on the team or the testing team may be much smaller than the tester is used to.


These changes result because Agile breaks projects into smaller units of work for developers and testers; therefore fewer people may be needed on the project team. In fact, the amount of testing done exclusively by the testers may be less than a Waterfall project. Joel Montvelisky’s QABlog explores just that.


Now, let’s take a step back and discuss what Agile is and why it can be positive from a tester’s perspective.


Change Ahead Sign


Agile is a distinctly different way of delivering a software solution. In traditional Waterfall projects every action is completed in an assembly line style; one activity does not start until the other has been completed. Agile is based on breaking the project into multiple smaller pieces, or iterations, and going through the complete solution delivery life-cycle in each iteration. Yes, this means that during each iteration there will be (but not limited to) planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, unit testing, functional testing, and UAT, along with a demonstration of the working product.


The final point may represent the biggest change and brings one of the key benefits of Agile. At the end of each iteration you have working software that can be seen, touched, tested, demonstrated and if needed, moved into production. This process allows everyone to see the software as it is being built and not wait until it is nearly completed to realize it might not be exactly what was needed. Agile is based on several basic principles intended to deliver software which meets the user’s needs by being able to accommodate changes along the way.


What Do Testers Get Out of the Change?

Agile projects increase your opportunities to work on multi-disciplinary teams and to take on tasks not traditionally assigned to testers like business analysis, development, automation, etc.  Think faster, better and less expensive with fewer risks and more satisfied users. 


Agile success depends on all involved being completely engaged and accountable.  Everyone on the team, no matter what their role, takes on a sense of ownership ensuring the software is delivered on time, on budget and on schedule with high quality.  When done correctly, the transition from Waterfall to Agile brings multiple soft and hard benefits to your projects and your experience as a tester.


As a Consultant and Test Manager at Olenick & Associates, I had the opportunity to serve as a Test Lead on an Agile project. This was the client’s first attempt at doing a non-Waterfall project. We started off by training and educating the team and client on what it means to use Agile, how it was different than Waterfall, what their involvement had to be for a successful project and finally what they could expect to see during the project…..HUGE SUCCESS!


By the conclusion of this project we had made a smooth transition from Waterfall to Agile, but even better than that, it allowed me to grow and gain experience in an Agile world.


By Tony White, Test Manager – Olenick & Associates, Chicago

Related Content: Agile Assessment, Change Management, Functional Testing, Quality & Testing, Quality Assurance Management, Test Management