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Is documenting test processes a bad idea in an Agile Development Environment?

Fri 15 Feb 2008

I work in a smallish development team in Southampton as some of you know. There are other development teams in the group in United Kingdom and in France that all fall under the same group of companies of different sizes.

The unfortunate problem that we have is that there isn't a properly documented process for getting everything in place and ready for each testing cycle. Once we have everything ready we have another problem that I will hopefully discuss in a future posting.

This is where I had the thought "Is documenting test processes a bad idea in an Agile Development Environment?". If you have worked in an office with ISO9001 accreditation you will know that everything needs to be documented or if you have worked in a Six Sigma office you will have noticed that you have to put everything you do in a database so the "Black Belts" or "Master Black Belts" can see areas that need improvement.

So back to my question, "Is documenting test processes a bad idea in an Agile Development Environment?". My answer is definitely! And I am going to admit this is a fairly biased answer having started my career in large financial institutions where I was taught that everyone is expendable but their process knowledge isn't. This means that everything needs to be documented. However my thoughts on this is that things need to documented and followed to a point as long as that point does not impact on the creativity of the software developers and the testers.

Its this creativity that allows people to come up with new and exciting ways of developing and testing. Tools like the xUnit and Selenium and many more have come from this creativity. This then needs to be balanced with some form of Total Quality Management (TQM) so that everything can be reproduced if and when needed.

Documented processes can't be completely wrong, if they were then large companies like IBM, Citrix and Microsoft would have never got to where they are now!

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