The Sprint Retrospective for Testers

Agile principles focus on a model of inspect and adapt. As a product evolves through the life-cycle of a project, the scrum team should continuously evaluate the processes used, skill sets required and improvements that can be made to more effectively deliver upcoming features.

The Sprint retrospective ceremony is the last ceremony held during each cycle of sprint development. A retrospective is held for each sprint cycle. The retrospective is no more than 1 hour in length for every 2-week sprints and is coordinated by the scrum master. All members of the scrum team should participate including the product owner.

Scrum team testers will have a significant role in the retrospective. Testers will have one of the best views on the efficiency of the team in delivering the features requested by the product owner.

Several components of the sprint should be included for discussion in a retrospective meeting:

  • Processes – planning and execution
  • Communications – within the scrum team, with key stakeholders and with end users
  • Environment – work logistics and system infrastructure
  • Artefacts – documentation created and,
  • Tools – ensuring that the team has what is needed to work effectively.

Testers will have additional input to the retrospective including review of:

  • Prioritisation of features – complexity and usage
  • Schedule – time allotted for testing
  • Test Driven Development – ability to create test cases used in the development of features.

The retrospective ceremony should be used to evaluate areas of improvement and highlight processes that went well and should be continued. If a scrum team does not identify changes during a retrospective, then the team should feel comfortable moving forward into the next sprint using the current set of components. Since the retrospective is held at the end of each cycle, scrum team members will have a chance to evaluate at multiple times during the life-cycle of the product development.

Inputs to the Sprint Retrospective

The sprint review ceremony is one input to the retrospective ceremony. During the sprint review the scrum team will work with the product owner and perhaps a few key stakeholders, to evaluate the success in delivering committed features. Evaluation of improvements identified in a prior retrospective should also be reviewed against the current sprint to determine if there was value in making the changes.

Prioritisation of Features

Both complexity of features and stack ranking of the use of features will impact the prioritisation that testers use for feature testing and delivery. If significant numbers of features cannot be delivered during the sprint review, the testers within the scrum team should evaluate how the prioritisation was managed. If feature testing ended up being more complex than originally anticipated, the testers may need to re-evaluate the user stories to determine if they were larger and had more components than anticipated. Complex features that are delivered later in a sprint than anticipated will impact the testers’ ability to complete validation. The risk is that the feature may not be approved for inclusion in the sprint review due to the testing being incomplete. The product owner and end users should not approve a feature for release that has not been adequately tested. This will show up in the review of features.

Testing Schedule

Testers frequently express concerns about the time allotted to complete testing cycles. Some scrum teams will decide to add a hardening sprint prior to a release. This is done so that functional testing is the only function of the actual sprint. Integration and regression testing may be moved to a hardening sprint as part of the sprint retrospective. There is significant debate within the Agile scrum community as to whether adding a hardening sprint is a better approach than evaluating the number and complexity of features that should be included within a sprint. Hardening sprints may be better aligned for testing in a scaled Agile environment where a Scrum of scrums is to be delivered within a release.

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Our Book Recommendations

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

Master of Agile – Agile Scrum Tester With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)

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Master of Agile – Agile Scrum Tester With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)

What is this course?

This ‘Master of Agile – Agile Scrum Tester With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)’ provides an in-depth understanding of the Agile Scrum Tester roles and responsibilities

You will explore the Agile Scrum project life-cycle, including how an Agile User Story is created, to how we know when it is ‘done’

This course is aimed at those with or without prior knowledge and experience of the Agile values and principles

During this course you will learn the tools needed to succeed as an Agile Scrum Tester

What will you learn?

You will gain an in-depth understanding of the Agile Scrum Tester roles and responsibilities, and you will be able to

  • Fully understand the role of the Agile Scrum Tester
  • Understand the roles involved in an Agile project
  • Create an effective Product Backlog
  • Effectively participate in Scrum Meetings such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review and Retrospective
  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team
  • Fully understand the role of the Agile Scrum Developer
  • Understand the roles involved in an Agile project
  • Create an effective Product Backlog
  • Effectively participate in Scrum Meetings such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review and Retrospective
  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team

What topics are covered within this course

You will cover the following topics during this course:

  1. An Introduction to Agile Project Management (Tester)
  2. The 12 Agile Principles (Tester)
  3. Introduction to Scrum (Tester)
  4. Scrum Projects (Tester)
  5. Scrum Project Roles (Tester)
  6. Quality in Agile (Tester)
  7. Acceptance Criteria and the Prioritised Product Backlog (Tester)
  8. Quality Management in Scrum (Tester)
  9. Epics and Personas (Tester)
  10. Planning in Scrum (Tester)
  11. Scrum Boards (Tester)
  12. User Stories (Tester)
  13. The Daily Scrum (Tester)
  14. The Product Backlog (Tester)
  15. Review and Retrospective (Tester)
  16. Validating a Sprint (Tester)
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