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Need Certified Agile Tester Exam Sample Questions?

Where can I find Certified Agile Tester (CAT) Exam sample questions? 

Might this be a question you've been asking yourself lately? Well then, you're in luck, for you happen to be at just the right place.

This article will effectively answer that question and much more. The Certified Agile Tester Course is organized by the International Software Quality Institute (ISQI) of Germany.

Unlike most of the Testing Certifications such as ISTQB and the like whereby the course material is normally prepared by the training institutions involved, with the Certified Agile Tester, the material is prepared by the ISQI itself. 

This, in turn, means that no matter where you're sitting the exam, the course material will be the same for all the course takers.

The course material the International Software Quality Institute will provide you with will have everything you need, from the Agile Methodology Manifesto introduction to sample questions.

However, if you are looking for more sample papers, than are provided on the course itself, the selection of sample papers are quite limited, when compared to other qualification like the ISTQB Agile Extension, however, you can contact exam providers, like SQS, and request some sample papers.

What is the ISQI Certified Agile Testing Certification (CAT)?

Agile Testing slightly deviates from the more traditional regimented tests. This is because it needs to be adaptive and flexible in order to effectively adapt to the frequent feedback iterations.

The Certified Agile Tester by ISQI, commonly known as "CAT", has come to be recognized, by the software test professionals looking to work in the Agile environment, as the primary international qualification. 

This certification process is a very rigorous one which combines theory and practical exams as well soft skill assessment.

The Certified Agile Tester Exam is split into 3 different parts.

  • Soft skill assessment concentrating on your capacity for teamwork
  • An open question examination that is used to demonstrate your profound theoretical knowledge
  • And a practical section where the testing skills of the examinee are tested.

The paper-based exam mentioned above is separated into 3 phases. The exam's passing grade is sixty-five percent. Participants should at least score fifty percent in both the written and practical exam in order for them to pass.

Non-native speakers, upon request, will be awarded thirty minutes extension.

Will The Agile Testing Book by Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin Help You Prepare for this exam?

This book is highly recommended and should be read by every agile project tester, mostly because agile projects normally try to avoid specific roles.

The book begins by laying a little groundwork by attempting to effectively define what agile testing is all about.

In the second part of the book, the authors dwell on the organizational changes that will occur after testing while part three is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the entire book.

It is mainly designed around 4 testing quadrants initially conceived by Brian Marick, the co-author of Agile Manifesto. 

Because of these quadrants, Gregory and Crispin are able to cover a wide range of topics which include API, UI, reliability testing, usability, stress, and performance.

The fourth part of the book mainly deals with automation and this happens to be a topic that all agile team members should have in their minds. One section is particularly quite interesting and that is the part of the barriers to automation discussion.

Overcoming the resistance brought forth by these barriers is made easier once you've understood the advice provided in this part. In the final part of the book, the authors end it with a critical success factors short list.

What are the Agile Testing Quadrants?

Quadrant 1: Technology (Support Team Testing)

This quadrant covers tests such as API tests, Unit Tests, Component Test and Web Service Testing. Basically, this area concentrates on Automated testing. The main advantage of this quadrant is that it provides tests that improve the design without affecting functionality.

Its main objective is to use legitimate source code management skills as well as an integrated development environment to improve product quality.

Quadrant 2: Business (Support Team Testing)

This part dwells on Manual and Automated Testing. The tests it covers include Story tests, Functional Testing, Simulations and Prototypes. This quadrant provides you with a way to formulate the appropriate set of questions that drive tests which are aligned to your business.

Quadrant 3: Business (Product Critique Tests)

This quadrant mainly deals with Manual Testing. The tests it covers include Scenario-Based Testing, Exploratory Testing, User Acceptance Testing, Usability Testing, Alpha/Beta testing and Acceptance Testing. It's basically all about effectively evaluating the product.

Quadrant 4: Technology (Product Critique Testing)

The final quadrant mainly deals with Automated testing and the tests it covers include Security Testing, Performance and Load testing and the like.

Manual Testing vs. Automated Testing in Agile

Most experts will agree that both manual and automated training play a big role in the agility environment and are both very important. 

However, the type of testing you're doing is what will largely determine what the best choice will be. In the book by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, they describe four quadrants of testing.

The first one deals with automated test efforts that include component and unit tests. These are usually done by the developer way before the initial code is written. 

The second quadrant may be manual or automated testing and is done by the testers as well as developers. These are functional tests such as prototypes, simulations, and story tests.

In the third quadrant, they involve some manual testing which includes usability testing, exploratory testing, alpha/beta training and acceptance testing.

Automation, in most fields, brings forth the benefit of reduced costs and increased productivity. In the agile software development arena, it's actually pretty vital.

They basically go hand in hand. You can do without manual testing in agile, however, you can't do without automation which in turn makes automation much more important than manual testing.


While this certification builds its popularity, it is a challenge to find as much specific resources, however, hopefully this article has provided some ideas and preparation needed to help you.

This certification was meant for those test practitioners that are looking to enhance their abilities when performing tests involving agile projects The Scrum flavour is the main focus of the entire course of agile development.

It's a course you just can't afford to do without if your a software tester or developer looking to make your way in the agile environment. It's both world renowned and well respected in the agility software development industry.

5 IT Contractor CV Tips to Get Fast Results

Your CV must stand out! This is not negotiable. You only have a
limited amount of time to grab the recruiters attention- the way you fill out
the A4 to represent you can make or break your career.

Companies don’t just hire people just for the sake of having a
large number of people to add to their workforce anymore. Gone are the days
where applying for a job as a contractor was just a cellphone call, followed up
by an interview that determines your fate.

The curriculum vitae, or CV as it more commonly known,  is a document that not only serves the purpose of signalling that you want a job, it is now the yard stick which your competence is measured with.

You can be a qualified and highly professional contractor, and still get it wrong when it comes to how you use your CV to represent your service to the employer.

With opportunities in IT becoming more accessible to everyone, the
competition for career positions in companies is getting harder by the day.

Recruiters have to deal with multitudes of CVs submitted to their inboxes or
physical address. You have to capture their attention with your application.
They literally go through heaps to find a perfect candidate. Here is a stress
reliever for every contractor on the hunt:

Here are The 5 IT Contractor CV Tips to Get Fast Results

01. Personal Information must stand out

This is your name and your contact information, preferably your phone number, website, email address and other communication channels you use.

Adding social media is not really best practice. Your name must be used as a bolded headline at the top of the page. Highlighting the name by either bolding, italicising or underling is a very effective method of getting it noticed and remembered by the recruiter.

The font must be complementary to the size, this is a recommended to be set at
14 to 16 points on average. Capitalizing your name is just as effective as the
currently mentioned guides.

02. State your role in your profile to make an offer they can’t refuse

This is where most contractors fail to communicate their offer. Be as explicit as possible in detailing what you want to do for the client or company in a brief paragraph and what you have already done for other clients.

03. Highlight your skills as much as possible without sounding irrelevant

Highlighting your functional skills is very important to make an impression on your CV. The need to add a lot of information just for the sake of filling up the page must be avoided.

Employees and recruiters look through your resume for a very short amount of time, so you must make an impact. 

The section that involves your work history, education, and your achievements must not be stuffed with irrelevant information. Adding very detailed and recent information helps the employer scanning through your CV understand exactly what it is that you can do for their establishment.

Job roles must be explained thoroughly by the candidate to show aptitude in the field of interest. 

This is done by mentioning the daily tasks or recurring requirements of the work
environment that the subject has operated in. Using as many verbs as you can to detail the tasks as they were respectfully carried out.

There is no substitute for this, the recruiter needs to only see you in a positive light. You need to include not only your skills but how those skills are or were used in your project. For instance, mentioning your role in the IT company you worked for.

Including tasks, for example, like, how you were the web-based Test Lead for a large retail company, responsible for overseeing a team of 10 automated Test Analysts, using loadrunner... and so on.

04. Give an eye-catching presentation that gets attention

The layout of your CV must be attractive to improve the chances of the recruiters scanning effectively over it. You must adopt a CV template that
is easily scannable and reader-friendly.

The format of your CV must be well organized in neat and orderly sections that embody their respective fields and must be labeled accordingly.

There are many fonts that are enlisted in typography that vary in degree of readability to each individual. The use of the font is paramount in increasing your visual appeal to allow for familiarity and "scan-ability" by the recruiter. 

A font like The Times New Roman is the most frequently used format
in most CVs and does little to make your CV standout.

Using a traditional font style like Serif is an important factor in increasing the likelihood of your CV getting noticed by capturing the reader because of it’s stylish appeal. This font also has enough traditional implications attached to it to still deem it fit to adhere to a traditional format.

Serif format styles include Georgie, Old style and many more that you can easily find by using this reference.

Use visual aids like bullets and numbering to draw attention to key points about your expertise and other information that is relevant to the job you are applying for.

05. Keep the pages at a maximum of two pages

The need to outshine the competition is natural, but keeping your
information as brief and tactful as possible improves the chances of
communicating your value to the employer.

Include only information and details that is important to the give the company a clear picture of who they are reading about.

Watch Your Tone

Literally, don’t use jargon on your CV. it paints a certain character to the reader that suggests that you are not ready for the workforce or that you have a way of not adhering to a civilized manner or lacking in professionalism


Creating a valuable CV is not rocket science, but it is very easy to get it wrong, use these simple tips to get the head start on your competition.

The Ultimate Guide: ISTQB Foundation Test Design Techniques

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What is a Test Design Technique?

For any software development lifecycle to be effective, complete and accurate information is a very essential element. These two elements are what enable your test teams to work together cohesively in a systematic manner.

This, in turn, ensures that your end product matches the expectations of your customers as well as your business in general. The goal of a test design technique is the testing of features and functionalities using effective test case scenarios.

The process of analyzing your organizations requirements from a business point of view goes hand in hand with proper testing. Determining the accuracy of completed information can be done using ambiguity testing techniques, which happens to be one of the top testing design techniques.

Basically, a test design technique's main goal is to determine a proper series of tests from a pool of all the possible tests for a particular system. There are numerous types of software testing techniques. 

Each one of them has their own weaknesses and strengths. Each technique has it's own way of identifying different types of defects.

What Are the Main Categories

So what are the Test Design Techniques covered in the ISTQB exam? Coincidentally, the two main categories covered by the ISTQB exam (Click here to see the difference between ISQI & ISTQB) are the same categories we're going to cover in this article herein below:

01. Dynamic Test Techniques

Dynamic techniques are divided into another three major categories. These are:-

Black Box Techniques: 

This technique is also referred to as specification based or behavioural techniques. This technique uses the software's external descriptions such as customer requirements, design, technical specifications and so on.

In this technique, when the tester doesn't fully understand the software's code or its internal structure they can perform tests using methods such as Boundary Value Analysis (input values are tested at the boundaries), Decision Table Testing, State Transition Testing, Equivalence Class Partitioning and Use Case Testing.

White Box Techniques: 

This type of technique is based on the software code as well as the program's internal structure, testing each of them individually, one after the other. In this type of technique, testers and developers usually have a proper understanding of the internal structure and the program's software code.

Experience Based Testing: 

This test-design technique doesn't concentrate on external or internal structures. The testing is based on experience and the following test methods are usually adopted when it comes to scenarios such as; Fault attack (here errors are anticipated by testers) and Exploratory Testing (application testing without test case documentation).

02. Static Techniques

This technique is all about manually testing your software product. This process is usually started in the early stages of the software development process. This means that it is most likely going to happen during the verification stage. 

The fact that the testing is done without the need to execute the program means that you will not have any need for a computer. These testing techniques can be applied to several forms of documents. These include design documents, source code etc.

What is Boundary Value Analysis?

In the input values' extreme ends is where errors, for the most part , are observed. These extreme values like lower/upper or start/end values are known as Boundary Values

Boundary Value Analysis is the analysing of these Boundary Values. It's sometimes also referred to as Range Checking. Boundary Value Analysis is based on black box testing technique principles and it's main objectives are to locate errors at input domain boundaries rather than finding the errors at the input's center.

Boundary value analysis and Equivalence partitioning are kind of intertwined and can both be used together at different levels of testing. Test cases are derived for the equivalence classes edges.

Each individual boundary contains invalid boundary values as well as valid boundary values. Normally, each boundary will contribute one test case each. Finding defects using this technique can be quite effective and it has the capability of functioning at most levels.

Your previous experiences or needs are what will determine your choice from the multiple test case applicable from invalid and valid input domains, however, you must remember that you will still be required, from each input domain, to select one test case.

This testing technique is quick, easy and a fantastic way to catch input anomalies that may play a major role in interrupting the programs functionality. So, to cut short testing procedures and save time, experts delivering quality management services as well as software testing heavily rely on this method.

Equivalence Partitioning

Equivalence Partitioning is basically selecting single input values from every range from a range of values that is made up of divided test input data. It also happens to be a black box based testing technique and its main objective is the calculation of the effectiveness of certain test cases. 

This technique also has the ability to function at all testing levels from integration, unit, system testing etc.

In this technique, input is split into several different classes. The equivalence class input criteria represented by each individual class. One input is then chosen from each class.

What this method does is it reduces the number of test cases from an infinite number to a finite one. All this while still securing the effectiveness of each selected test case that has been assigned to monitor all the possible scenarios.

A basic Equivalence Partitioning concept is if a range from one to hundred is being accepted by one application, then those inputs can be divided into classes using Equivalence Partitioning principles. Example, design, invalid as well as valid input all get each class to provide them with one test case each.

Final Words On Test Design Techniques

One of the most vital components in the testing phase is Test Case. These are basically the predefined variables and conditions that are used to check whether your application and software is working like it's supposed to.

For a testing process to be successful, then as a competent software developer you will have to learn and understand how to use some of these techniques. Understanding some of these testing methods will make your work so much easier.

Digging Deeper Into Static Testing

Secret Static Testing Techniques that appear in the ISTQB Exam Questions?

Secret Static Testing Techniques ISTQB Questions

What Is Static Testing?

Static testing involves the testing of documents and software without actually running the code. Static testing is the opposite to dynamic testing, which requires the code to be ran. 

According to Guru99, this can be in the form of walkthroughs, peer reviews, informal reviews and inspections.

What Are The Main Uses Of Static Testing?

Testing the software in the initial phase leads to greater efficiency of the code. Static testing offers just that. During the early development phase, the code undergoes various tests and makes sure that the changes in the current part of the code do not affect the other parts.

The main uses of static testing is that it is tested keeping the work environment in mind. During a review process, the software tester engineer can debate whether a certain form of code is applicable in the real world environment or not.

Testing the software at the early stage before implementing it at a large scale saves a lot of time and more impotantly for any project, is the cost saving.

The outputs from this exercise are typically uncovering deviations from code standards, code that will be hard to maintain in the future, design issues and potentially missing requirements.

How Is It Different From System Testing?

System testing requires the code to be ran, whereas static testing does not. It is effectively an offline method to uncover defects early on in the development process.

What Are The Different Roles And Responsibilities?

According to Guru99, there are five major roles in static testing:

  • Moderator
  • Author
  • Scribe
  • Reviewer
  • Manager


The moderator coordinates the activities and tracks the progress of these tasks, to ensure a timely completion.


This person, for example a developer, takes the responsibility of fixing the error that has been identified. This does not have to be a developer, the defect could be a design document, for example. In this situation, an architect may be the author in this context.


This person will keep notes and minutes of meetings. They are typically members of the Project Management Office (PMO), but does not have to be.


As the name suggests, responsible for reviewing defects and providing feedback, to maintain quality.


Manages the process and each individual involved in the static testing activities.

What Are The Different Types Of Reviews Involved?

The foremost step of static testing is the review. It is carried out in four stages depending upon its level of formality. The four types of reviews are

  • Informal review - This kind of review includes a single person or two persons who just conduct a top down review of the code. There is no restriction on the number of persons reviewing the code at the informal review level.
  • Walkthrough review - This review consists of a group of engineers who collectively conduct a thorough review of the code before passing it to the next level.
  • Peer review: This includes a review by a person of similar knowledge and caliber who spots the errors and corrects them.
  • Inspection - The inspection is the final level of review in the static testing. It is conducted by some senior software testing engineer who is well proficient in the product requirement and corrects the code accordingly if any flaws are to be spotted.

These four levels of reviews are inter-connected and intertwined, and work in liaison to collectively bring out an error free code.

Final Words on Static Testing

All in all, static testing is the most important part of the software testing process which builds the foundation for a flawless software.

Its importance is based on the fact that it is done manually where there is a greater probability of spotting an error and before executing the code itself.

The early stage of the development of a software product lies heavily with the static testing where each bit of error code is identified and rectified making the software error free.

Is White Box Testing also Called Unit Testing?

white box testing is also called as unit testing

What is White Box Testing?

White Box Testing, which is also commonly referred to as Glass Box, Clear Box, Open Box or Structural Testing, is basically all about testing software solution's internal infrastructure and coding.

Its main objectives are to strengthen security, improving usability and design, as well as strengthening the flow of outputs and inputs. This type of testing examines outputs using a particular knowledge of programming code.

The "box testing" approach often used in software testing has two parts to it. One of them is what we're here to discuss, White Box Testing. It's counterpart is known as Black Box testing and this, unlike Clear Box testing, involves the testing of software from an end user type or external perspective.

In White Box testing, the process is concentrated on internal testing and is all about the inner workings of a certain applications.

The concept of a see through box was what was used when coming up with the term "white box". The white box, glass box or clear box name represents the ability to effectively see through the developed software's outer shell right through to its inner workings. Similarly, the "black box" terms used in Black Box testing represents the lack of ability to be able to see the software's inner workings. This approaches main goal is the testing of end user experiences.

Difference Between White Box Testing and Unit Testing?

So, is White Box testing also called Unit testing? Let's find out. First of all, Unit testing, in computer programming, is a process whereby source-code's individual units are tested to determine whether they are okay for use. An application's smallest testable part is known as a unit. 

A unit, in procedural programming, may be an individual procedure or function. Unit tests are occasionally created by testers that use the white box approach or regular programmers.

Each individual test case is, ideally, independent from one another. Substitutes such as mock objects, method stubs, test harnesses and fakes can be used to help test modules in isolation. Software developers are the ones that typically write and run unit tests with the goal of ensuring the code meet the behaviour and design it was intended for.

In White Box testing, if you want to effectively design test cases, you will require adequate programming skills as well as an internal perspective of how the said system works.

For the tester to determine the appropriate output levels, they will need to choose exercise path inputs through the code. It is quite similar to the testing of nodes within a circuit as is experienced in the In-Circuit Testing process (ICT). Clear box testing is normally done at unit level. 

It is used to test paths between as well as within units. Hopefully now you can see the difference between the two. The two testing approaches are somewhat different in the few ways explained above.

Advantages of White Box Testing

  1. Ability to Automate
    Knowledge of the internal perspectives of the application will in turn allow for unit testing. As was explained earlier, unit tests are all about testing small pieces of units or code with the goal of seeing whether they function and operate as expected.

    The simplicity of these tests makes it possible for programmers and developers to run these tests automatically, to see whether there's anything wrong. Unit tests are actually a very effective way of catching errors in the system.
  2. Its Thoroughness
    White box testing's main tenant is its complete code coverage. The idea here is to basically test as much code as you possible can, which happens to be way more thorough and effective compared to your traditional black box test approach.

    Its thorough nature also gives you a clear testing structure to rely on. Testing must have a clearly defined set of rules and must be engineering based as well.
  3. Time
    Software development will always have deadlines you'll have to meet. This means that during the development process, time is a priority. White box testing helps significantly speeds up testing processes.

    Most often than not, developers can see the bugs early, instantly have a slight idea of what the problem is and how to rectify the situation. It also eliminates the cost of communication between the QA and developer.
  4. Optimisation
    When developers go through the system's code on section after the other, it allows them the ability to condense existing code as well as remove superfluous code sections. Also, removing hidden errors that may have been missed during normal testing will help optimize the code.

Disadvantages of White Box Testing

  1. Expensive
    Due its thorough nature, the cost and time it will take to conduct proper white box testing will usually prove to be very expensive. Even though unit tests may somewhat alleviate this issue, writing the unit tests give rise to an initial investment which will inevitably increase the procedures overall cost.

    Also, large applications can sometimes perform poorly when tested using this approach. Testing each and every individual branch of code can, at sometimes, prove to be virtually impossible.
  2. Missed Cases
    The white box test approach only tests as well as validates features that already exist in the system. If something is missing or the feature is partially implemented, this testing approach will not be able to pick up on this issue. This is where black box testing requirements proves to be superior.
  3. Rapidly Changing Code Base
    Rapid changes of the code base will make automated test cases a waste. Usually, reworks or redesigns will make written test cases useless as well as giving rise to the need for a rewrite.

Final Words on White Box Testing

This type of testing approach can sometimes prove to be quite complex, however, the complexity levels will be determined by the particular application being put through testing.

Small applications, when put through this type of testing, can be completed in a matter of minutes. while larger applications may take several days, and sometimes even several weeks, to complete. White box testing works best during the course of the development of the application software. And with that, hopefully you now know a lot more about White box testing

What is black box testing also known as?

What is black box testing also known as?

What is it Also Known As?

So, what is Black Box testing also known as? Well, most programmers and developers in the IT realm also commonly refer to this method as "Behavioural Testing", or functional testing.

This testing strategy ignores the application or system's internal mechanisms and mainly concentrates on execution conditions and selected inputs responses.

The program's structure is not taken into consideration in this testing technique. It only takes into account the application's functionality. This testing method is also sometimes referred to as functional testing.

In this strategy, the software tester's main concern is how the application is validated and not how it was produced.

Implementation logic or knowledge of programming isn't required for the software testers that are using this technique. It usually applies at the high levels of testing; System Testing and Acceptance Testing. The software that houses inputs and where you expect the known outputs to be is what IT professionals refer to as a black box.

Transformation of known inputs to known outputs is done using the system and usually goes unchecked in this testing technique. The transformation process in this system is also referred to as a black box

This technique is basically functional testing whereby development and program testers concentrate on providing the known inputs and checking whether those known inputs have been obtained. 

This strategy is usually followed while acceptance testing is being carried out. Here the software developer is merely a user and not the end user.

Black Box Testing Techniques

  1. Equivalence Partitioning
    Rework is greatly reduced when you use this testing method. Test conditions are grouped together by software testers so that only 1 condition in each group requires testing.

    This means that all the other conditions probably work if that one particular condition works. A clear example of this is when an uploader is involved, this testing strategy can be used for testing file sizes and types while avoiding the overlapping of every combination.
  2. Boundary Value Analysis
    With this testing strategy, the values boundaries that have been allowed is what is tested.

    This means that if your system only accepts a number from one to one hundred, then you will want to focus your testing on those boundaries, along with the slightly over as well as slightly under numbers. However, testing the in-between numbers is not something you will have to waste your time doing.
  3. Decision Table Testing
    This type of testing is ideal for those situations where you might be dealing with complicated combinations whereby different decisions are produced by various inputs (unlike boundary value analysis and equivalence partitioning).

    Cause and effect tables are something this technique is also called and decision tables can not only, during format testing, make sure combinations aren't missed they can help when clarifying expected outputs.
  4. Error Guessing
    Error guessing sounds just like what it is. A software tester finds errors by guessing where they're most likely going to be.

    However, the term might not be really fair due to the fact that the following factors herein are involved in the decision; understanding of the application, the software tester's own experience, customer issue tickets, test cycle's previous results and risk report.

    Error guessing is vital when you're deciding which application part will get the most thorough tests run on them.
  5. Exploratory Testing
    With this technique, test coverage is maximized by the tester by strategically moving through system actions while closely simulating the behavior of the user.

    This has black box technique written all over it because you're not required to have knowledge of the internal code.

    This means that they are allowed to behave like users but should always keep the tester caps on.
  6. Cause Effect Graphing
    In the cause effect graph technique, effects are set off using a set of causes that have been mapped out through direct graphing. You can think of the causes as the program's input and the effects as the program's output.

    The graph usually shows the nodes that represent effects on the right-hand side while causes are represented on the left-hand side. Causes and effects may have additional constraints. A dashed line will represent a constraint symbol and it is usually in the form of an edge label.

Benefits of Black Box Testing

Here are some benefits of Black Box Testing:

  • You will not need to have programming knowledge nor will you need to have implementation knowledge as well. The software tester can be a non-technical individual.
  • The developers and testers are independent and have no dependencies between them
  • The application's quality is assessed by analyzing expected outcomes with actual outcomes
  • Helps develop software in a way that is much more user-friendly than the techniques used in requirement document for here the application is tested using the user's point of view.
  • Once the system application has been released, the development team can proceed with testing and development team dependency is avoided.
  • The designing of test cases can be done after the completion of the function specifications.
  • This testing technique is very effective when the system application is complex as well large.

Disadvantages of Black Box Testing

  • The absence of programming structure knowledge allows for the risk of leaving unidentified conditions.
  • Practically, manual testing can only test a limited number of possible inputs.
  • If the software tester isn't aware that they might have already tested the application then you will inevitably run the risk of having repeated test results.
  • Not all the logic or paths are usually tested.
  • Achieving one hundred percent test coverage is very difficult when the application happens to be relatively large or if it's one that is of a complex nature.

Final Words on Black Box Testing

The main thing that makes this technique so different from white box testing is the fact that here the software tester does not really have to have programming knowledge and does not also have to understand the code being used in the application's test procedure, however, it's still effective in very many ways. As a modern-day IT professional you'll need to learn how to use this testing strategy if you want to be fully effective when it comes to modern-day software testing.

What is the V Model Used For in Software Testing?

So, what is the V-Model?

Many people ask the question, what is the V Model used for in software testing? Well, the V model is basically the classic waterfall model but in overdrive. Meaning it's an enhanced version. 

In this model before a development life cycle can move on to the next level, they must be verified. This basically means that software testing starts as soon as written requirements have been produced, so testing explicitly commences at the very start of the procedure.

Here, the term testing translates to verification by way of inspections and reviews, which is static testing. What this does is it helps you identify errors early, during the life cycles early stages, and also reduces the potential for defects showing up in the software's code in future.

A corresponding test plan is assigned to each level of the development process, that is, each phase that is being worked on is assigned a test plan for the preparation of product testing in that particular phase. Expected results can be can be defined using these developed test plans.

Test and design activities, in the V model, are constructed with the same level of detail. The model's left hand or downhill part is where software is designed while on the model's right hand or uphill part is where it is all built and tested. Correspondences between the right and left-hand side are defined by the line that runs through the center of the V.

The Verification Phases

  1. Requirements Analysis
    This is the verification processes first step, which is also commonly referred to as the requirements analysis phase. System requirements are gathered analyzing user needs.

    This phase is all about the establishment of what the ideal systems are meant to do. However, it doesn't determine the design nor the build of the software.

    The documents containing the user requirements will normally describe the software system's functional performance, interface, security and data requirements in accordance with user expectations.
  2. System Design
    In this phase, system developers and programmers can study the documents that contain user requirements of the overall business of the proposed application.

    They figure out techniques and possibilities of how to implement the user requirements. The user is informed whenever the requirements aren't feasible. When this happens the document that contains the user requirements is edited and a resolution is quickly found.
  3. Architecture Design
    The software or computer architecture-design phase is also commonly known as the high-level design phase.

    The baseline of architecture selection in this phase is it should typically realize all that consists of each model's functionality level, list of modules, interface relationships, database tables, dependencies etc.
  4. Module Design
    Last on the verification phase list is the module design phase. It is also commonly known as the low-level design phase.

    Here, the system is split into smaller modules or units and the programmer or developer gets an explanation of each of them so that they can start the coding process directly.

The Difference Between The V-Model and Waterfall Model

These two models approaches are quite similar in very many ways, however, the major difference that sets them apart is the testing emphasis in both situations as well as how they are presented.

The V shape representation flow chart helps point out the differences that come prior to coding such as architecture-design and requirements as well as everything else that follows coding which is testing.

While the waterfall model has testing at 1 out of its 5 steps, the V model methodology basically improves on that significantly.

What all this means is that what makes these two models differ is that for the V Model, for testing activities to fully commence, the development process has to have been completed.

The waterfall method technique seems to be continuously iterative while the V model seems to have a clear start as well as an end. The fact that the V model is a simultaneous process is what makes the approaches differ a little bit. 

This happens to be a big reason why most IT professionals prefer to learn, understand and use this method rather than its waterfall counterpart.

Advantages of the V-Model

  • It's very simple and easy to use
  • Covers all the functional areas
  • Testing activities like test designing, planning happens well before you start the coding procedures. This usually proves to be quite the time saver. hence the higher chances of success it experiences as compared to the waterfall method
  • Proactive error tracking. This means that defects are detected at an early stage.
  • Helps avoid defect downward flow
  • In small projects, where understanding the requirements is easy, nothing would do better than the V Model approach system.

Disadvantages of the V Model Method

  • This process isn't ideal for the more complex, fast changing software projects.
  • If your requirements keep frequently changing then this option might not be the best approach for you. You might want to consider something else, like Agile, if that's the case.
  • The implementation phase is where the software is developed, which means that software prototypes are not produced early.
  • If any changes occur midway through the course of the procedure, then the requirement documents, as well as test documents, have to be constantly updated.
  • The client does not get to see intermediate modules and only has access to the end result.
  • Does not scope for risk mitigation and risk management.

Final Words on the V Model

All in all, the V Model method should generally be used when you as a programmer or developer are working on small or medium-sized projects, whereby requirements are clearly fixed and defined.

You need to have a high level of confidence in your client if you want the V Model technique to be completely effective. It's an approach than many people doing work in the IT realm should learn and understand for it is one of those things for the future.

Having this knowledge will prove to do more harm than good. Most experts around the globe will agree with this. And with that, now you're in the know. So if you haven't already, start reading up!

Is this What You’ve Been Told a User Story in the Agile Methodology is?

What is a User Story?

Simply put, a user story is the smallest unit of work in the agile framework that serves as a software system requirement.

Here is an in depth look into User stories and Agile characteristics:

What is an Initial User Story

Initial user stories are much smaller and basically define the interaction between the end user and the system in certain usages and scenarios.

Two types of Initial User stories exist: Formal and Informal.

  1. Formal User Stories:
    These are detailed sentences that help programmers identify the actors (team leaders, members and product owners) and their business value as a requirement

    A formal approach is usually applied with the template:
    e.g. As a (role) I want (something) so that (benefit).

    For example: As a reporter, I want a transport allowances so that I can travel and cover stories.
  2. Informal User Stories: -These are usually high level stories with no specified format in the actual story card. Their simplicity with no rules makes them easily distinguishable from other Agile stories.

What is an Epic?

Looking at the bigger picture after writing your user story lies an epic. This is a much broader chunk of work with a common objective.

A product owner can write a user story that seems really simple at first and puts it under a single sprint. In real sense, it becomes impossible to finish it in time and is then carried forward as an Iteration backlog.

The big user story now an epic, needs to be split into smaller user stories to obtain a better estimate of the sprint

Both the epic and user stories are used to classify the amount of work to be done. Epics differ from each organization.

Giant tech companies have bigger epics as compared to smaller companies whose epics could probably be done within a single sprint.

It’s also important to mention features under agile methodology. Features refer to the strategy layer that user stories try to accomplish.

An epic comprises of several features within which also comprise of a couple of user stories.

What is a Theme?

As a product owner, you may choose to diversify and change to other aspects to maximize on profits. A theme a large area of focus usually assigned to different teams.

A theme may or may not include epics of related proportions. The user stories in a particular team may be totally unrelated thus spanning the organization.

In the same way epics are made of different user stories, a theme is made of different epics. It is important to also mention Initiatives. 

Just like features, initiatives lay the foundation of epics driving them towards a common goal.Initiatives take much longer to complete than epics. Initiatives have structural designs that clearly define the epics and their time frames.

One major characteristic of a theme is that its overly ambitious. It mostly defines the product owners’ dreams and goals in partnership with the stakeholders. They sometimes inspire the teams to create reasonable epics in regression to the original Agile idea.

The themes are used to organize the epics for better processing.

What is a User Persona?

To fully understand what a user persona is, a background check into the world of marketing is in order. Remember a developer cannot create a program without actually knowing about the consumer base and their needs.

In software development, there is a team responsible for researching related topics on the project and give feedback to their teams. This data obtained which usually contains a list of pros, cons, goals and complications are arranged in a manner that reflects a data persona.

A user persona is that a character that is a representation of a user who will interact with the product you are passing. It may be a program, an app or another software entirely designed to target how best your product will perform in the market. 

If your product is a web-based feature, it is expected that it will receive more than one user. Therefore, it is advisable to create more than one use persona to adapt with the increasing number of traffic inside your website.

As mentioned above, a user persona’s initial stages of development usually comprise of market research. These include the use of prototypes that are released to beta testers who have already subscribed into testing of the persona. 

The beta testers give out their general feedback of the working of the program on interviews or focus groups where they share their opinion. Areas of improvements are shared and worked on in the tasks to come.

What is an Acceptance Criteria?

According to leadingagile, they are a group of conditions that need to be met to satisfy and accepted by a user or customer.

They are one of the most important things to get right, from the start, so you know when you have done enough testing to exit the process.

Final Words on User Stories

The incorporation of user stories into software development has made the task more human friendly as opposed to other impersonal methods. Its launching is more thrilling as it contains actual conversations of the user requirements that a client demands.

As part of the team, you may need to complete a user story diligently and fast since anyone in management including the stakeholders can write a user story and add to your collection.

If not properly handled, user stories can pile up to form company backlogs which are enemies of progress.

Before you go, lets delve into another buzz word in Agile, ATDD...

Really? Is this What ATDD in Agile Stands for? The inside scoop!

Really? Is this What ATDD in Agile Stands for? The inside scoop!

What is ATDD?

One framework that has been gradually rising is ATTD, which stands for Acceptance Test Driven Development.

What is ATDD?

ATTD is an Agile based developmental framework that involves communication between the business stakeholders, customers, developers and down to the beta testers. 

At the same time, the user stories once executed are passed through several detailed acceptance tests that check on how the system will perform as per the user’s point of view.

The difference between this tool and Scrum is that the latter’s User story is scrutinized by the developer and the product owner and run against several Acceptance criteria to check on its overall functionality. In other words, the tests are done immediately the user stories are written prior to any development work.

Is it also referred to as Story Test Driven Development (STDD)?

In order to clearly define what an STDD is, it is fundamental to learn about the Test-Driven Development (TDD). This methodology involves a short development cycle that is usually repeated until it passes the required test criteria.

It can be very tiresome since the first test is usually targeted to fail and with the subsequent tests geared towards software improvements.

The Story Test Driven Development is subset of the TDD that focuses on higher level acceptance tests. So, in a way the collaborative framework is also sometimes referred to as a STDD though less commonly.

The STTD comprises of four major key components namely:

  1. System specifics: - Written in HTML the document briefly describes how the software is expected to function.
  2. Acceptance Test Fixture: - This reads the system specifics Html to ascertain that the specifications are adhered to
  3. Unit Test cases: - As the name suggests, these are tests specifically run as a unit to make sure the software runs as intended.
  4. Story test results: - With all said and done, a summary of all the acceptance tests and their results are recorded here.

What about Behaviour Driven Development (BDD), is it the same?

According to gaboesquivel, BDD is a subset of the TDD. It is totally different from the collaborative framework in that its software operates on principles like, designing and programming a unit test and ensure they fail before finally implementing and verifying the implementation of the unit.

BDD generally gives a consistent customer-based reception allowing for the inclusion of everybody involved in the process whether they are conversant with developer options or not.

What this means is that as a customer, your needs will be put first before anyone else. Another difference of the BDD is that it focusses on how the system operates whereas the framework in discussion drives at carefully meeting the acceptance tests needed for efficient software functionality.

The tool structures that support the BDD include the JBehave and RBehave developed by Dan North. In these structures, the framework specifies and executes the tests for each scenario bearing in mind the schematics of the scenario.

What are the benefits of ATDD?

The long chain of activities involved in this framework finally pay off in the following ways.

  • Quick solutions to problems arising: - the world of designing and developing software is challenging and filled with setbacks. As such, it requires a tool that can instantly solve some of these problems. It accomplishes these problems by sharing the design and testing it in its early stages
  • Simpler to Manage: - Unlike TDD, this framework is known to incorporate everyone into it meaning, smaller user stories will be assigned to each team to be completed during a shorter timeframe. Smaller builds are usually easier to monitor and manage especially in distribution of resources.
  • Customer focused: - this design puts the needs and preferences of the customer above all else. Through prior research within the market, developers have it easier to do their work especially with the needs of the consumers in mind.
  • Bridges the gap between different teams: - According to qasymphony, it improves the efficiency in the development process. It's collaborative efforts initiate communication between the developers and the stakeholders alike thereby closing the gap.

What are the common Pitfalls?

Like every other software framework, the ATDD isn’t lacking in a few cons:

  • This method is geared towards the customer’s satisfaction which can be a a huge blow to the product owner especially if their interests don’t align.
  • The framework is designed to operate under specific tools like Cucumber that requires mastery and constant practice. As such, this will deter the primary objective of the framework to improve on the collaborative interaction between the stakeholders and developers.

Final Words on ATDD

ATTD is becoming more popular for simple reasons like anyone being able to write and run the acceptance tests. In the ever-digital competitive world, it offers more dynamic and efficient improvements to your product throughout its automation features.

If you can use a method that will get you faster results, why not take the chance?

Should You Really Be Using Risk Poker in Agile?

What Is Risk Poker In Agile?

Risk Poker is an Agile method for risk based testing. Testing is a way of mitigating risk and in Agile Risk based Poker is a method to handle this.

Planning poker is a fun game based method that oversees user story points matched with related functional elements within an agile project.

Risk poker, on the other hand, is a risk based testing method, similar to planning poker, with the difference being, identifying key risks rather than estimation on user stories.

What is Risk based testing?

Software developers have it hard in their work. Their programs often undergo a lot of scrutiny before getting released into the market. Testing is a method used to identify product defects and software problems which are then returned to the developers. The criteria used in testing is solely based on the owner’s specifications.

Products are often at a risk of failing if they do not satisfy the consumers hence a product risk directly related to its failure. A risk based testing is an agile based approach that oversees tests conducted on a product based on the chances that it may not perform well on the market. This may be as a result of defects in its software coding or simply put as bugs or just shift and preferences in general consumerism.

Pressure from the market to deliver the finished product based on the fixed time frame as per the Iterations could also be another factor for product risk failures.

A risk based testing approach also determines the overall impact of failure and the importance of the consequences that may arise from the risk of failure.

What is Product Risk Management?

Different methodologies exist in identifying the gross mismatch between the market expectations and the finished product. Product Risk Management tops the list as one of the most effective way of managing the set of failures that may arise.

Proper analysis of the influencing factors that may result to the negative output of a product constitute risk management.

It is sometimes referred to as Risk mitigation because management tends to control the severity of the outcomes. Risk management is a lengthy process and often comprises of 6 steps.

  1. Identifying the two dimensions of risks: -by focusing on their strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Classification: -organizing and categorizing risks according to the criteria of your own choosing.
  3. Quantify: - you may need to use probability vectors to properly assess the veracity of the impact each risk poses.
  4. Plan: - this involves coming up with quick solutions to the already identified set of categorized risks.
  5. Implement: - you may need to put your idea solutions into good use at this stage and run them.
  6. Reiteration: - the need to repeat the analysis to make sure old risks remain buried and find out new ones.

What is a Product Risk Matrix?

After identifying the most crucial risks to be tested and quantifying them, rough estimates are drawn and numerical values assigned to their impacts.

A product risk matrix is a mathematical representation of the numerical values expressed divided into 4 different regions each representing a different level and type of risk involved.

Other mathematical based methods of graphical representation such as the use of Histograms and tabular like drawing of often complicated values aren’t as appealing as a risk matrix.

One advantage it holds over the rest is that it is very simple and easy to decipher. The horizontal axis can represent the impact of the risk while the vertical axis can represent the chances of occurrence of the risk involved.

As a result stakeholders may not need to rack their brains trying to figure out exact figures as seen in graphs.

What is the objective of Planning Poker?

Planning poker specifically aims at gathering feedback from all the team members on which way to deal with the project backlogs.

Planning poker also eases the overall estimation process by resizing an already existing story before its implemented. For overall success, you need to have self- control in order to determine when best to quit even if you are winning. Setting a limit becomes a bother especially if you are losing with the hopes of performing better.

In Scrum poker, how hard a story is doesn’t have a definitive method of determination. A dynamic process exists with non-definitive methods like vagueness in level of risks and uncertainty involved.

Contrast exists when defined values like countable figures specify planning poker. The most common poker method used is the Fibonacci sequence of numbers which each team member picks to represent a story value. Other examples include

What is Protection Poker?

The internet world is prone to security risks and unauthorized entry into organizations encrypted files. A method to counteract these illegal activities by malicious hackers is an agile based security risk game called Protection Poker.

The security based game is interactive, collaborative and comprises of a collection of ideas sharing past experiences that offer a better exposure for software security.

Brainstorming for solutions to patch up bugs and defective software coding as an overall risk is also included in the game experience. Team members are required to think like a software attacker and close up any breaches within the product’s network.

Final Words on Risk Poker

Quality service delivery is key in the final product, hence the reason we have the Agile Manifesto, for example. A substantial amount of funding should be set aside to assess and analyze the level of risks involved. It may not be possible to completely analyze every risk and test every aspect of a system as per the orders of the stakeholders.

Methods like Risk Poker, a light weight approach crucially takes care of this problem and gives you a more in depth analysis of the impacts of failures, should they arise. All in all, not infringing on your limited budget.

Before you go, lets look at some key Agile Sprint activities...

7 In Sprint Testing Activities You Need to Do to Get Paid

in sprint testing activities

Introduction - The 7 In Sprint Activities

The mobile and web applications development sector has never seen a better platform than the Agile based methods of software development. If you are new to this technological advancement, here is an in-depth analysis of one the methods and terminologies used: Sprint testing.

A sprint goes hand in hand with Scrum as an agile approach to development which is extremely difficult to master. It’s a form of Iteration that involves quite a number of activities and if you aren’t careful to its approach, the overall structure may collapse. Here are what agile testers need to do in a sprint before the project can be termed as 'done’.

1. Test Estimation

Agile may have fully changed software development but testing software proves quite a challenge. The first step usually entails making a rough estimation for each user story created. 

This involves a detailed time account for all the steps involved that provide an overall scope for the entire project. This may include:

  • Identifying references to different user stories
  • Analysis of the requirements of the story
  • Sizing the whole story by giving proportional values depending on the amount of work to be done

A sprint is usually a development cycle. The scope of the estimate should cater for all challenges that may be encountered within the process. Many agile developers often complain about the possibility completing all the testing in one sprint especially if the sprint also includes backlogs from previous designs.

2. Design Test Cases

If you are a product owner, you would definitely employ the best team to meet your conditions and specifications. Test cases simply outline whether the system being tested meets the variables and requirements of the stakeholders.

A common misconception during the design of a test case is that a user story is a requirement. A test case is created manually with regards to the accepted criteria. Each and every product backlog goes into the sprint backlog where it is analyzed. This includes items like epics, features and user stories.

3. Work Closely with your team

Agile methodology is not to be confused with the traditional waterfall approach that run test checks at the final stages of the software development. Instead testing is done through each development stage.

This may increase product backlog as coding may be prone to bugs which may require technical support and knowledge acquisition.

High level descriptive functionalities are often specified under the user stories. Its complexity may prove quite challenging and its therefore important to grace the team with your presence to offer technical support and smoothen the whole process.

You may need to outline the user stories as the simplest increments that need to be built upon. Once the team understands this, you may need to reiterate the features which are usually too general to build. Using this knowledge, high level features need to be refined greatly to be done under a single sprint if possible.

4. Defect Management

Sprint testing often aims at ensuring the final program is devoid of any glitches and runs as smoothly as intended. This may be achieved through defect management which is the ultimate software debugging process.

Simply put, it’s a process that pin points to the exact bug and its location in a program and developing ways to fix it

Defect management involves four easy steps

  • Detecting the source of the error
  • Defect report writing
  • Debugging
  • Preparation of a defect list that includes all defects identified and fixed

5. Add Value in Stand-Up Meetings

Don’t always be the member of the team who is always absent in important group gatherings. It is important to always show up punctual to daily stand-up meetings to review the overall progress report.

In Agile, silence Is never golden. Share your thought and ideas on how to tackle the most troublesome processes encountered. Your focus should be purely on ways to complete backlogs and new challenging projects.

For instance, do not focus on what you have already achieved or what you are intending to achieve as this will come off as a bit of a show off. Instead, psych up the team and provide solutions to general problems they may encounter.

6. Have a clear exit criteria

Even before you start testing, it is important to have a clear, and agreed exit criteria. The "agreed" part is probably the most important. This means you know when you can exit the process, without going round in circles, continuously raising defects, and re-testing.

An example may be, maximum of five sev 3 defects open, after test completion.

7. Work Closely with Stakeholders

One of Agile’s tenets is its dynamic ability to welcome change. You may need to learn a few details of the task at hand through working closely with the responsible authoritative figureheads.

These may include additional funding in cases of limited resources. Coming from a traditional based developer methodology, you may need to learn about the agile based software. There isn’t anyone more knowledgeable regarding your line of work as the stakeholders.

Conclusion - In Sprint Activities

As an agile tester, negative afterthoughts like the sprint being too short should be discouraged. Planning and collaborative effort is usually key to these kinds of problems.

Trying to mitigate problems during a sprint test is usually a bad idea as the problem will keep on recurring. To ensure you reap the benefits of your work, you may need to simply create test automations that will check on regression and performance during each sprint.

What is sprint zero in agile?

Sprint Zero - Intro

The Sprint Zero idea, like many things on planet earth, is often used and abused. So, what is Sprint Zero in agile? Sprints are agile's way of breaking down project management processes into smaller manageable parts in order to simplify the entire procedure in general.

Sprint zero is what is usually known as "project before the project".

This concept is proving to be so effective until large organizations are starting to apply these agile principles across all project management departments.

With that said, as agile demand grows, so does the mystification around the Sprint Zero term. In its most simplified meaning, it's basically the application of Scrum Sprint frameworks to pre-planning procedures for a project.

This pre-planning procedure manages to become a project within itself during the course of the Sprint. 

The Scrum school of thought is of the belief that every sprint should produce potentially viable value.

What's the Sprint Zero Concept?

Sprint Zero's main goal is to produce some viable value that can be utilized by the team that follows suit. However, the question of what the concept of the entire procedure is can be a very tricky one to answer.

Most software and management leaders tend to demonstrate how much they understand agile scrum concepts and will usually want to run all their other systems under Sprint from day one, however, they're probably going to be unable to produce even a single releasable feature.

The name zero comes from the failure to produce this feature which is used to tell stake holders to expect nothing from the sprint as it is a Zero Sprint.

Zero Sprints are generally required to keep designs minimal, create project skeletons (including all the research spikes), developing a tiny number of stories until completion and be lightweight as well as low velocity.

A small number of stories should already be in the backlog before the beginning of the Sprint Zero process if you want this approach to be a success to you. This few number of stories will act as catalyst for the Sprint to produce results that can be demonstrated.

How to Get the Most Out of Sprint Zero

If you want to know how to get the most of Sprint Zero you first have to know how to conduct the procedure effectively.

The best way for you to understand this process is to know that for you to have a successful Sprint Zero process you'll have to be ready to begin from Sprint One.

"Ready" in this context is a bit of a vague term because readiness does not mean the operation procedures that are in place are available. However, this aspect has hopefully been taken care of. What readiness basically means is that development can occur in the said environment. A few do's and dont's if you want to conduct a successful Sprint Zero procedure:-

  • Don't take more than a week
  • Do keep your systems lightweight and stay clear from big design principles
  • Don't do more than what is required of you in the first stage just so you can produce a successful kickoff
  • Do emphasize a team building culture and always try as much as possible to get all your team members involved in the work.

Common Pitfalls of the Sprint Zero Process

Here are some of the common pitfalls of sprint zero:

  1. Harried designers with rushed designs:
    When developers and designers start at once, in agile projects, it sort of almost has the feeling of starting a run on a treadmill when it's already on the highest level without even warming up first.

    You'll constantly be at the risk of making a fool out of yourself by falling off. This "everybody begins at once" format places huge pressure on developers and designers to simply just complete their work.

    In such scenarios they'll most likely tend to rush their decisions without thinking about them too critically. This will, in turn, result in the production of unpolished, uninspired designs.
  2. Unvalidated Design:
    Software consultants and practitioners always have to validate their designs with 2 different groups. Their clients have to approve them and its testing needs to be done using their target users.

    This often leads to iteration within designs and the production of cycles of feedback. Normally, in agile approach, the softwares are built way before stakeholder validation or before it's been put in front of the software user. This generally leads to loads of reworking cycles for the software development team.
  3. Unnecessary Cost and Rework:
    Unvalidated designs and bad architecture will eventually lead to large amounts of rework cycles which help inflate costs of production.

    If designers can't take a step back and critically assess the product, then they lose the ability to be able to develop libraries of design patterns that are extensible and that can be effectively used throughout the agile project.

Does Sprint Zero Help With Sprint Planning?

For any project to be executed effectively, pre-planning must be involved. The project preparations that are standard for most software developers include gathering the right equipment and people required in order to complete the job. However, these don't characterise a Sprint Zero process.

Sprint Zero, unlike pre-planning, is not a requirement for agile projects. Quick and efficient Sprint teams may not have any use for Sprint Zero procedures.

However, for those organisations that may never have used Scrum before, if you want your regular operational business culture to be ingrained with principles used in agile software development then you will have to start with the concept of Sprint Zero as your tipping off point.

Final Words on Sprint Zero

There are many alternatives to Sprint Zero in agile, however not many are as effective than this process can be when properly executed.

Before businesses and organisations start using Sprint zero they will first need to put in place organisation level processes with the main goals and objectives of sharing as well as crafting a vision, Scrum Team familiarisation and formation, initial product backlog creation, Definition of Ready (DoR) initial version, and Definition of Done (DoD).

An organization that intends to be successful with sprint in agile must fully understand all these processes mentioned above.

Before you go, lets look at another related topic...

What is an iteration backlog in agile?

What is an  iteration backlog in agile?

What is a an iteration backlog? In basic terms, it is smaller portion of the product backlog, it is a collection of activities that are expected to be completed in the next iteration. Ever since its incorporation into many companies, Agile has seen a huge cultural shift with support forums sprouting. It’s a methodology unlike no other, that mainly focuses on splitting of a workforce into several blocks for a more flexible output.

These building blocks, known as Iterations are fixated on a specific time frame for optimum productivity depending on the context of the business. Occasionally, a team may fail to deliver forcing the agenda to be carried forward and hence constituting an Iteration backlog. Here is a more detailed look onto Agile and its Iterations.

What are Iteration goals?

Iteration goals form the core of a business mission statement. In simple terms, a team is tasked to accomplish a set of targets within a specified duration of time. 

These goals may sometimes be demanding and even include backlogs that require prompt completion. Achieving these goals comes directly from the self-driven and organized set of Agile teams.

The drafted set of goals to be accomplished is both beneficial to the Project Management as well as the Agile Release-Train (ART). These constitute a series of teams that deliver solutions to benefit the end user.

Its beneficial to the team in that it will provide a context to be familiarized with, paving way to understanding objectives and cross-referencing with other teams if need be. Furthermore, it directly links the teams with the stakeholders allowing for managing dependencies and approved custom improvements during a program’s execution or update.

In as much as the self-organized teams are responsible for most of the work, Management is still mandated to oversee the course plan. As such, the management will be held accountable the teams value delivery outcomes.

Is Iteration Planning another word for Iteration Backlog?

Iteration Planning is a strategized gathering of the responsible teams to determine ways on how deliver the iteration goals as well as any backlogs that may be due. It is purely based on the team’s capacity as well as the Iteration’s complexity.

Its general purpose is to serve as determined estimation of the Iteration goals. It is much broader and focuses on the past backlogs as well as the upcoming issues. As such, it is a totally different entity.

As part of the management, you are not allowed to interfere with the team’s planning. The scope of the entire operation belongs to the capable team of individuals.

As a matter of fact, the members allowed into the meeting constitute:

  1. The capable team of developers
  2. The scum master whose basic objective is to spearhead the meeting.
  3. The owner of the product under development as well as any other important stakeholder

What is an Iteration Planning Meeting?

This refers to an organized preliminary gathering prior to the Iteration meeting. It is a very crucial gathering as the acceptance criteria and methods of delivery would be discussed.

Before conducting this meeting, you as the product owner are required to ensure the backlog has been assigned a story value. High-story values will be given first priority.

The stories may then be broken down into tasks which are assigned to the most capable members of the team. Sometimes, members may find themselves overtasked while others completely idle.

As such, a further review is recommended to evenly distribute the work. The iteration backlog may be too complex to be successfully delivered in one sitting. It is therefore recommended to solve backlogs by analysis of their story value instead of distributing it among the members.

As a reminder, the split backlog will have to be re assembled and hence it’s advisable to allocate a time frame to achieve this. Here is detailed approach on how to split a complex story value.

What is the goal of this meeting?

While the meeting is geared towards achieving the Iteration goals, you may want to understand its importance and of its other vision and missions. The goals of this meeting are purely specified in the meeting’s agenda and may include:

Complete scrutiny of the available Agenda Released Train tasked with completion of the backlogs and iteration goals.

Drawing out a rough estimate of the time required to analyze each story value and dig deeper into the seeded acceptance criteria.

Reiteration of the products’ vision and roadmap through reminding the members of anything in the foreseeable future.

Addressing new issues and concerns that may influence their overall productivity. These may include timeboxes and working hours required to complete a project.

Record Keeping – This requires precision and concentration on key topics such as the Iteration name, scope and theme of operation.

The stake holders in complete collaboration with the product owner will finally agree on whether to commit to these terms and estimates depending on the team’s capacity. As such budgets get drawn out and the work begins.

What is a “User Story” in Agile?

A user story is an Agile based feature that is able to adapt and create an outlook according to the requirements of the end-user. In simpler terms, it describes the user’s objectives, when he wants to do them and the reasons behind it. 

A good example would be:

  • As a user, I can file a list of orders into related subfolders.
  • As an Administrator, I can choose to authorize transmissions based on customer privileges and modify them if need be.

They are usually short and very descriptive of the task at hand. Preciseness is a valuable key feature in making a user story and it’s usually written from the perspective of the person intending to accomplish something.

They are often written throughout the agile project and added to the product backlog at any time to fit into an Iteration.

Conclusion - Iteration Backlog

Iteration techniques are crucial to the overall success of a business. The Agile software development tool has enabled smoother and more flexible facilitation of story values.

If you really want to get a return value for your money’s worth, it is important to purely base your investment by adhering to the Agile features. Iteration Backlogs can pose a huge threat if not properly addressed. A more capable team should be tasked with simpler tasks to ensure less backlogs.

How Do You Split User Stories in Agile Scrum like a Ninja?

Intro - How to Split User Stories

In the last 16 years, the Agile Scrum methodology has established itself as the top gun in the software development industry. About 71% companies today rely on Agile instead of the older techniques to get things done.

With its streamlined & meticulous processes and emphasis on modularization (User Stories), it has made the software development a more organized task.

Each User Story consists of a feature or functionality that the development team works to implement, in order to address a need of the client.
Let’s look at a few questions that most people are curious about when it comes to splitting the user stories:

What is splitting User stories in Agile Scrum?

Splitting of stories is very much like breaking down a big task into several small tasks. One big story is broken down into several smaller child stories that each play a role in the overall development.

Splitting should be done with the intent of delivering value to the client & making the development process relatively easier.

This is best achieved by writing child stories which target a capability of a feature. A feature is in itself a working unit that can function on its own, and as part of the bigger product. This translates to real and tangible progress for the product and the team. It also means that the team can quickly develop and test, and get feedback on it from the client.

From the development team’s perspective, the thumb rule is to split stories in a way that every sprint has a piece of feature/functionality that can be developed and tested properly.

2. What is Horizontal Splitting?

This approach involves splitting the story in terms of architectural layers. This implies that the entire story would be split on basis of work belonging to different teams: D.B, Front-end/U.I, Back-end, Security, etc.

This kind of splitting results in a situation where the customer can’t have anything useful or worthwhile to go with until everyone working on the different layers finish their respective share of work.

Development involves coordination of different teams (and people) handling different architectural layers. This approach jeopardizes the value& the process, if one team delivers their share of work, but the other doesn’t.

A working feature or functionality requires all layers to be working in tandem. If development is done layer by layer, there is an increase in the overall complexity. Unless one layer is ready, integrated and working fine with the other layer, testers can’t really test anything, thereby creating latency.

What is Vertical Splitting?

This approach to splitting revolves around splitting the entire story into several doable features or functionalities.This results in child-stories which when implemented, work to deliver some tangible result that’s valuable to the client.

A sprint’s worth of work creates substantial value to the client and helps the team in form of feedback that they can use to improve the functionality.

This is argued to be the best way to move ahead, since it implies that with time, the development team is creating usable functionalities or features. These work independently to get something done, and eventually integrate into the system to work with other such functionalities.

This improves the cohesiveness between different members of the development team, because they are all working on things that together contribute to the output. Also, it’s easier for them to coordinate in terms of how their respective share of work integrate.

What is splitting by business rules?

This approaches the splitting exercise based on the business motives/results that a client wants to achieve.

It works as a function of how much time it would take to get something done, and how important it is to the business of the client to get it done. This helps in deciding what’s the most important & urgent requirement, and what can be handled later.

Example: A web-store owner who ships cutlery will have different business rules needed to be implemented, such as:

  1. Customers should be able to pay through different payment options: Credit card, E-wallets, etc.
  2. Every order should automatically create a dossier with shipping information of the customer that can just be printed and attached to the parcel.

Out of these, the more vital need of the business is to be able to accept most payment methods. This ensures that customers wouldn’t be deterred from making a purchase just because their payment method isn’t listed. 
Meanwhile, the slip of the shipping details can easily be created manually.

What is splitting by data Types?

The parameters being accepted and the data types being returned drive the splitting process in this case. Depending on the priority of the data types and parameters that are being handled by the system, the priority of the child-stories is decided.

Thus priority is decided by evaluating which datatype is the most value-deriving in nature and hence most important to the client. 

A story that does similar operation using different data types can be divided into child-stories that individually address each datatype. This way, features can be built-up incrementally to work with more and more kinds of data.

A highly-preferred approach in this splitting strategy is to first integrate data types that are the easiest to process and are used most often, and then with time, build out to include the more complex ones.

Conclusion - Splitting User Stories

We’ve discussed few of the most important & widely used splitting techniques in the industry. You have been presented with some different techniques to make this happen.

It now comes down to you, to decide which method is best for you. Before you go, lets tackle another related topic that has many Agile fans attentions:

Agile User Stories vs Use Cases: Which one is Better?

Agile User Stories vs Use Cases: Which one is Better?

So, Agile User stories vs Use Cases: Which one is better?

Before we answer this, we'll discuss and explain a little bit more about what these approaches entail as well as the difference between the two. First and foremost, User stories are not the same as Use cases

User stories and User cases are not interchangeable. Both have their identified users and both have their own described goals, however, they serve very different purposes.

A User Story largely dwells on the results and benefits of the certain thing you're describing while Use cases are usually more granular and are centered on describing how the entire system will act. 

User stories usually start off pretty similar to Use cases in the sense that they are goal oriented, each has its way of describing how the system is to be used, designed with the user's perspective in mind and uses the businesses natural language.

User Stories In Agile

A User story is basically a small note that records what a user needs or does while they are at work. Each User story usually contains a written short description derived from the user's point of view in their natural language.

The main focus of a User story is to concentrate on the user's needs and not the expected results of the system.

It runs on a 3C's concept. The 3C's is a reference to the three vital aspects of what make up a good User story. These days when people are talking about User stories they're basically referring to a User Story that is made up of these 3 critical components mentioned below.

  • Card: User Stories are usually written as cards. Each card consists of a short sentence that has just enough content to remind all concerned what the stories are all about.
  • Conversation: Continuous conversations between development team members and customers throughout the whole agile software project are how requirements are found and then refined. Important decisions and ideas are usually recorded and discovered during stakeholder meetings.
  • Confirmation: This is the User stories' acceptance criteria. During the requirements discussion, the customers confirm to the analyst under what circumstances and conditions the software would be rejected or accepted.

What is a Use Case

Ivar Jacobson introduced Use Cases more than twenty years ago. Their main goal is to capture the point of view of the user while describing the system's functional requirements. 

This basically means that it describes all the ways the end user wants to use the system. Use cases capture and record all the ways the system and user can interact in order for them to achieve their goals as well as capturing all the variables that could go wrong.

There are various model elements that make up a Use case model system. The most important of them being the Actor, the Use case, and the relationship had between the two.

Use cases normally have detailed specifications. A specification in Use case is a textual description of the systems' functionality. It records Actor-System interaction. This means that it records system responses to user interactions.

The Acceptance Criteria In User Stories

A User story isn't all just about a single sentence affair. An Acceptance Criteria is also drafted by the product owner with the objective of defining User story boundaries as well as the confirmation of when a successful story has been completed and is working as it was intended to. 

Let's take this as your user story example: "As an attendee to the conference, I want to be allowed to register online, so that I can cut down on paperwork and register quickly ". The Acceptance Criteria could probably include:-

  • Registration databases have stored the information found on the form
  • Mandatory fields must be completed before a user can submit their form
  • Spam protection is working
  • Credit card payments can be made
  • Users receiving acknowledgment emails after successfully completing and submitting their forms.

Pros and Cons of User Stories

The Pros: Future of CIO state that a User story is an informal process kick-started by a simple sentence. Those of you that have the desire to add small increments of value, sooner rather than later, in agile, will find user stories to be extremely helpful.

It's not mandatory that the Use story be simple. Using Use stories that operate at a high level will add a little more to your productive planning sessions as well as a different way of adding last-minute functions to your software project.

The Cons: One of the most obvious disadvantages when using User story in Agile is that they usually leave out a ton of details because they rely too much on the conversational method of relaying time and details of development. The documentation is normally not complete upfront which can prove to be very time consuming

Pros and Cons of Use Cases

The Pros: The Agile Machine believes that formalized concepts are slowly phasing out Use cases. Some of the concepts provided when using Use case in agile include; ability to break down problems into subdomains and identifying actors. 

In addition to all this, Boost notes, upfront research that is sometimes required in Use cases can prove to be very helpful to the entire project in general.

The Cons: The fact that Use cases provide such formalized outlines of the project means that they often don't offer much room for project additions and negotiations. This is one of their biggest disadvantages.

Conclusion - User Stories vs Use Cases

All in all, they are both quite impressive. Having knowledge of both these systems may prove invaluable. When you start getting the sense and begin to understand the difference between

Use cases and User stories, you will know what purpose each of them, individually, can serve on your agile project. If your the type that only works with User stories or the one that only uses Use cases, maybe when the next project comes along, after you have completed your planning and risk poker, you can use both of them and see how that works for you.

The better one really depends on what you're working on as well as what you're really planning on achieving.

Best 4 agile Testing Certifications to Slap Your Competition

Best 4 Agile Certifications - Intro

In the agile domain, gaining credentials couldn't have been made easier recently. Why? you ask. Well, there's a large pool of certifications one can choose from in the market at the moment. 

It's even gotten to the point where it can get a bit confusing. Which bring us to the following point, we know when one has to invest time and money on something, anything for that matter, that individual will probably put in a lot of research before he dives into it.

It's no different with certifications and this is why we're here. We want to make things a little easier for you. Agile has basically revolutionised the whole face of project management and software development. This section of the article is mainly about 4 of the best agile testing certifications. below is a list of the certifications you should concentrate on.

01. ISTQB Agile Tester Foundation Level Extension

This is a new certification that has been introduced by the ISTQB. Software testing and development has taken a completely new approach in agile projects as compared to your typically regular software projects. Agile project testers need to now have sufficient understanding of Agile software development processes, testing methodologies and the techniques and tools used in the projects that involve Agile.

Before your eligible to take this exam you must have already acquired ISTQB Foundation Level Certification. The certification exam structure is basically a set of forty multiple choice questions that need to be completed in one hour. For you to pass the exam you'll need to score a minimum of 65 percent.

At the moment, some countries may not have access to the certification, however, you're advised on checking the certification board found in your country.

Taking this certification course will provide you with thorough knowledge of Agile Methodology. Most industries today follow agile processes. Getting this certification will confirm your Agile procedural know how to potential employers in the industry.

02. Certified Agile Tester (CAT) by QA

The Certified Agile Tester course is prepared by the International Quality Software Institute (IQSI) in Germany. It's a five-day course. You train for four days and on the fifth day you take a practical and written exam. 

The ISQI prepares all the training material going to be used for the duration of the course. The course material that is given basically includes; a comprehensive Agile Methodology introduction, comparisons to the traditional methods and the relevance of Agile. It attempts to cover as much as it can in depth.

Its certification examination structure is based on a written and practical exam. In the practical exam, they make you the customer, the team, and the tester. You have to do Iteration planning, take builds, do the retrospective and testing as well as preparing session charts. Kind of what you do in SCRUM

What follows is a theory exam that's quite subjective and no, it's not multiple choice.

For all three assessments, the minimum passing grade is 65 percent. However, candidates are required to get at least 50 percent in all the three individual elements of the exam. Delegates with disabilities or one that doesn't speak English as their first language is usually awarded a fifteen-minute extension.

03. Fundamentals of Agile Certification by ICAgile

If organisations and teams want to be successful in Agile, their foundation and main focus should first be on "being agile". ICAgile's key fundamental learning objectives comprise of vital concepts such as value-driven development, adaptive planning, frequent feedback for continuous growth and team collaboration. 

It also covers Agile's history, the Agile principles, the Agile manifesto and several other of its widely used practices and frameworks. Candidates that take this course come out understanding the core concepts of what Agile is all about.

The broadcast target audience has its eyes on ICP. This is because ICP is not only foundational but is a gateway to many other ICAgile tracks as well. For those of you that may be new to Agile or you"re practitioners who recognise they need to both "do" and "be" agile, then this course is perfect. ICP courses usually include 2 full days of activities and instructions.

04. Certified Scrum Master by Scrum Alliance

Scrum is basically an empirical method management framework that uses frequent inspection junctures to implement changes based on feedback and experience. Scrum has been used and has proved successful since 1994. The dot-com boom that was known to be highly competitive was its stomping ground. Many companies that have experienced tremendous growth during this time such as Salesforce and Google, have still continued using Scrum.

It all revolves around simple process framework that empowers individuals to higher performances where management takes a more leadership based school of thought rather than a directive approach, supporting multi-disciplined teams that are small in nature and removing any obstacles that prevent them from achieving their goals.

When you successfully complete the two-day course you'll be eligible to take Scrum Alliance's CSM assessment. Once you successfully complete this test you become a Certified ScrumMaster by Scrum Alliance. This is accompanied by a Scrum Alliance 2 year membership. Real examples are used in the course to discuss approaches, options and implications a ScrumMaster needs to always have in mind when dealing with development team members, stakeholders and product owners that are not well versed with Scrum.

Conclusion - Best Agile Certifications

All in all, Agile practitioners look to have a bright future ahead. There is literally no better time than right now to get started with your journey into the Agile realm. All the critical certification options mentioned above can place you on the road to success along the Agile career path.

There's no doubt that there are numerous other certification courses other than the ones highlighted in this article, however, the ones mentioned above are some of the best money can buy, that are available on the market at the moment. However, it goes without saying that as a professional you'll still need to make a wise call and have a slight idea of what you're looking for. It generally all starts with you.

If you decide to focus on the ISQTB Agile Certification extension to start with, we have some further tips for you here:

Where to Unlock the best ISTQB Agile Tester Extension Certification Dumps?

Unlock the best ISTQB Agile Tester Extension Certification Dumps

Where to find these dumps

If you are looking for the best Agile exam dumps or mock exams, you can find some here:

Almost every decent software development company today follows the Agile methodology to get things done. While the weekly sprints impart all the practical knowledge, there’s still a growing emphasis on certifications to get the theory right. 

ISTQB provides the option for taking the widely accepted certification for Agile Testers. This certification is considered de facto in terms of knowledge & reliability and opens doors to go for more advanced levels of expertise in the domain.

However, most people may be left with a bad taste in the mouth, since there’s hardly any time left to study after an entire day of work in the office. For addressing the same, the concept of Agile Tester Extension-Certification Dumps was introduced.

The relevant material is available in the form of books authored by people who’ve been in the Testing industry for many years, and courses that cover the nuances of the topics concerning the Agile methodology.

Let’s look at a few basic questions that are frequently asked by people who are pursuing the certification:

What is the entry criteria for the Agile-Extension Course?

  1. The Agile Extension course requires a person to be certified in the Foundation level course by ISTQB.
  2. The Foundation level certification itself requires that a person should have at least 6 months of experience working as a professional tester.
  3. While there is no hard and fast criterion relevant to this, there are two camps of people who typically take the extension course:
    • People looking to learn about Agile from scratch:
      If you are starting out from scratch, the entire course proves a boot-camp, since you discover everything from the very beginning. These are people who have started out new in the industry, or a looking to add to their expertise.
    • People with prior experience with Agile:
      This provides leverage in making the best out of this course. This is because the practical implementation of Agile in your work methodology sets you up for a better understanding of how things are supposed to be done.

Are there any books that can help me prepare?

Yes, there are. A very comprehensive document prepared by ISTQB is where you can start your preparation from.

This is a pretty solid resource since it covers all the boundaries of Agile. Right from the basics of Agile testing – terminologies as well as explanation, their importance, it moves to skills, methods, and lists down tools which come handy in the process of Agile testing.

People who have cleared the exam have recommended books like:

  • Agile-Testing & More Agile-Testing by Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin. The authors have substantial experience working in the testing domain and have provided insights that the textbook documents and syllabus may have missed.

If you are looking for alternate means of learning, there are online courses & videos which provide this knowledge, like this one:

Further, there are other books that are favoured greatly by users. They’ve been discussed below in detail.

Is the Agile Testing Foundations-Book by Rex Black & Gerry Coleman any Good?

By popular opinion, Yes. Most readers of the book have agreed that the book serves as a one-stop solution for anyone pursuing the Agile Tester-Extension Certification.

The book is neatly divided into sections that address all the concepts. Further, all the concepts are elucidated in a language that’s both easy to follow and effective.

Definitions and important concepts are highlighted, and this makes visiting specific parts according to the need of the hour a walk in the park.

The concept of Continuous evaluation and assessment is thoroughly practiced throughout the book, in form of sample questions at the end of each chapter. You get to pit your knowledge of concepts against the questions very often and this helps in tracking your progress.

Is the Sample Exam-Questions Agile-Book by Chhavi Raj-Dosaj any Good?

Chhavi Raj Dosaj is considered a reliable name in the world of literature concerning the Software Testing. His experience of over 17 years working with Fortune 500 has been consolidated into a single book. 

The book features questions that impart knowledge beyond the confines of the syllabus. This proves to be a boon for anyone who is looking not just to clear the exam, but also to extract maximum knowledge on the subject.

One of the highlights of the book is that each question is accompanied by the answers and the explanation behind the right answer and the wrong ones. Deviation of the interpretation of concepts from reality can prove fatal to your attempt at the certification exam. This approach taken by the author takes the guesswork and speculation out of the equation. Hence, you can understand the subtle details of concepts.

Can you take this ISTQB Agile-Testing Course Extension Online?

Yes, you can. ISTQB doesn’t directly provide these certifications. Instead, they’ve authorised training companies to provide these certification training and conduct the examinations.

You can take the certification training both in physical attendance and online, depending on the facility provided by the training company you choose to go with.

Every geographical location has certain companies that have been authorised to provide these certifications, and you can take the certification &examination with them.


In the pursuit of knowledge, we come across many such questions. Hence, we understand the importance of having the right and reliable advice on these matters. We hope that whenever you appear for the Agile Tester Extension Certification exam, you ace it.

However, it’s important to realise and understand that in the pursuit of betterment and progress, one shouldn’t be limited to books & syllabuses surrounding a certification. It’s important to look for forums where discussions related to Agile methodology’s implementation happen. That’s where you’ll find the most relevant and updated advice after you’ve exhausted the books.

As always, we’re open to discuss our points and answer any questions that you may have. If you got the answers you are looking for, and know someone who could use these answers – share this page with them! 

What is the Agile Burndown Chart Used For?

So, What is the Burndown Chart Used For?

A burndown chart is a representation of work to do versus the time. It is often used in scrum, which is an agile software development methodology. People always ask the difference between the burnup and burndown the chart. 

A burndown chart will show you how much work is left to be done for the project while a burnup chart will show you the amount of work that has already been done and the total amount of work left. In a burndown chart, the X represents the number of days while the Y represents the remaining effort.

A burndown chart will show a team its performance on a project nada to show how each individual is contributing towards it. It is simple to create and use hence very effective.

It also provides you with the time that the project might take and the amount of work that the team needs to do in order to achieve their goal. I decided to take through the agile burn down chart because I believe so many people are in need of understanding how it works. It is also advantageous to those who use it hence maybe you can grasp a few tips from here.

The 8 Components of the Agile Burndown Chart 

  1. Time (Horizontal Axis)
    This is the X axis which represents the number of days and therefore this is time used. The graph could either show twenty-one days or three 7-days sprints.

    Burn down charts are capable on reflection information of the entire project or even a single sprint( run at full speed over a short distance). Depending on your team, create a good plan showing the number of days available for the sprint to be released.

  2. Work Remaining (Vertical Axis)
    Tasks are estimated by the amount of work that is left to do. If you wish to learn more about time used by tasks in an agile burndown task using a technique called Fibonacci sequence, you can go to http://elearningindustry.com/charts and get all the information there.

    Estimation of time can also be in story points and there should be a start and ending point. Also for easy interpretation, you can plan in dates instead of days.

  3. Starting Point
    The overall number of points in a project is what we call starting point. In case you want to calculate the overall estimated effort, you can simply do so by adding up the column of the estimated effort.

    In this stage, you can decide the effort you want to be used during the project per day hence ensuring the effectiveness of the plan.

  4. Finishing Points
    For example, you plan on running your day for 52 days and you have 4 IT personnel who should give you at least 80% efficiency of their work hence the work should be over in 52 divide by 4 then divide by 0.8% hence the work should be over in about 16 days.

    The end of a project is acquired by the division of the number of tasks, a number of members and estimated factor.

  5. Tasks Remaining
    This is a line which shows the time when the sums began to be done up to the time when the members finished the project.

    It is not necessarily based on the expectation but the tasks required to be executed per day. If your team is keen on this, then go ahead and calculate the sum of estimated effort total efforts of the project.

    For instance, 52 tasks which are expected to be done in 16 days come down to an average of 3 per day by the end of the project

  6. Actual Tasks Remaining
    With time, you will be able to tell the actual tasks that a team can do. This can vary from time to time as you keep doing tasks daily. You can estimate actual effort again to get the accurate time needed to complete a task.

    If your estimation gave you 10 hours for a single task then you work 8 hours in a day it means only 2 hours of effort remaining. So now you actually realize that you need 4 hours for a task to be completed hence, the remaining actual effort for a task is 4 hours.

  7. Ahead of Schedule
    When actual work is below the estimated time, it means that your team is ahead of the schedule because they are completing more tasks. If more efforts are added then there will be a change in the actual effort.

  8. Behind Schedule
    Being behind schedule means that your team is doing less work than what was estimated. This is evident if the actual work completed is below the estimated.

    However, the agile burndown chart is meant to help you plan and estimate and not an accurate outcome. Although if your team is too slow you can always go back and plan again in order to get results that are close to accurate.

Common Mistakes

  • Confusing actual remaining effort and actually spent effort - this may happen sometimes to new members. Make sure you clarify.
  • Using Too Big Tasks: If a task is big, break it down into small tasks in order to achieve more accurate results. Do not estimate large tasks.
  • Unrealistic remaining effort: Be honest with yourself when estimating actual remaining effort.

Another relevant topic is the Niko-Niko calendar, heard of it? Well, here is a break down of it:

What is a Niko-Niko Calendar in Agile?

niko-niko calendar agile

So, What is the Niko-Niko Calendar?

Many people have been asking lately, what is a Niko-Niko calendar in Agile? Well, it's a practice in the Agile industry which aims at monitoring patterns of change of your team's mood over time.

The technic used is really not that hard. All it requires is that daily, after work, every team member should paste a sticker on designated calendar to highlight how their day went while they were at work. Whether it was good, or whether it was bad.

What this will basically mean, for those days when you might have had a bad day and felt really unproductive, you are to place a red faced sticker on that date.

After a while, you will begin to notice some colours being more dominant than the others. This will give you a little insight of the mood your team is generally in.

Expected Benefits of the Niko-Niko Calendar

Most experts will tell you that besides providing you with a little extra evidence and confirmation of how some certain employees, you may have suspected of being miserable feel, it's not really that much helpful beyond that.

Some will go as far as saying that the NIko-Niko Calendar promotes a detrimental effect to your employee morale.

Truth is though, the Niko-Niko Calendar can sometimes prove to be a great opportunity for reflection and at amazingly fast rate at that, too. You'll get immediate feedback from small changes you've made like altering the workplace environment and so on.

In case the change was good, you'll notice the mood of your team lightened up. In case the change was bad, well, you'll get to know that too, as painful as that might be sometimes.

Another special thing about this technic is that the team will also get the immediate feedback concerning matters of the work environments general mood. Basically, they will also get to know how the colleagues around them feel.

Another great thing about the Niko-Niko Calendar is that it acts as a good complement to other metric systems you might be already using around the workplace such as lead time, bugs, velocity and so on. They help make you aware of the mood your team is in for better reflection. They happen to be extremely fast when it comes to

indicating problems, are easy to set up and ready for use within no time. Aside from all this, they are a good way of making your employees feel valued as well as recognized.

Common Pitfalls of the Calendar 

As with all activities that include retrospectives whereby employees are requested to report their personal subjective feelings, it's unfortunate, but self-censorship will always prove to be a very big risk you'll have to account for.

One example is where an employee is being blamed for "whining" if they so happen to report poor days, eventually deciding not to record their true feelings. Below are some of the most common disadvantages of the Niko-Niko Calendar:

  1. The Kindergarten Feel To It: This is sort of self explanatory, right? Asking an adult to indicate how they feel by drawing faces on a chart daily will, inevitably, make them feel like they are kindergarteners.

    While some will most likely not have a problem with it, they will certainly be a few members of your team that will have a major issue with it. They already have a lot to do. Making their responsibilities more trivial than they need to be could certainly have a negative effect.
  2. People Have More Than 3 Emotions: This technic gives tools that allow its users to report one of three possible feelings. In a perfect world, this might just work, but unfortunately that's not the case.

    We all know life is nowhere that simple. The tools provided are just not versatile enough to give managers completely accurate emotional data.
  3. Employees Experience Emotions Differently: Emotions are usually more or less intangible. No two people experience the exact same emotions. They may indicate they're happy for two completely different reasons and the managers have no way of knowing what these reasons are.

Origins of the Niko-Niko Calendar

The "Project Retrospective" by Norman Keith, released in 2001, described many kinds of visualisations. Among them was the "Energy Seismograph", which can be taken as the forerunner for what is now known to everyone as the Niko-Niko Calendar.

Akinori Sakata, in 2006, became the first to officially describe this sort of calendar in his web article. He first referred to it as Nicocare where the tools to be provided were meant to measure both the safety and morale of your employees.

They tried everything and then finally decided that they will use sticker faces on a calendar to help measure one's moods, and thus, the Niko-Niko calendar was born.

Is It an Effective Way of Tracking Your Team's Mood?

With all that's been said and done, the Niko-Niko technic can be a way for managers to effectively track their employees moods. It may not produce the most accurate results, however, it can still provide more than enough information nonetheless.

This method makes tracking moods a little easy and can tell you what makes your employees happy so you can continue to do more of the same.

By checking the moods of your team members regularly, using this process, you will eventually manage to establish a calendar track of your employees' moods.

This information can prove priceless to manager, especially those handling agile projects. Niko-Niko happens to be the Japanese idiophone of a smile. Tracking metrics that affects productivity and performance is vital in the Agile industry.

Final Words on the Niko-Niko Calendar

A lot of things are tracked during the course of an Agile project. These include such things as lead time, bugs, velocity etc. Finding a way to effectively track those metrics will help you and your team identify problems early and much faster. Without them, you might find it very hard to improve the standards of your work environment.

The faster you're able to identify that information, the quicker you'll be able to analyze it, look to the future and steer your project operations in the right direction. It's all to do with tightening your feedback loop.

5 Ways to Use LinkedIn for a Killer Contractors Profile


I receive a lot of requests for advice on how to create profiles that will increase your visibility, connections, and ultimately, the chances of scoring more contracts. As a contractor myself, I know how hard it can be when you lack connections or if you don’t know how to highlight selling points.

I got to thinking about how I present myself. I haven’t updated any of the information on my LinkedIn profile for at least two years. After doing research to improve my online business profile, I realised that a lot of other people could use the help. So here are 5 ways to use LinkedIn for a killer contractor’s profile.

01. Building Your Connections Increases Your Business Prospects 

Building connections through networking is time well spent. You must connect online as well as face-to-face, because those two vehicles are interconnected. LinkedIn is one of the best platforms in which to start.


Do you know exactly how much building relationships within social media matters? As you use LinkedIn, work to increase the number of your first level connections. Because of the associations, your second and third level connections will always include your name in searches.


Connections provide leads. If I need advice or help, I go to people I can trust or the people they trust. Make yourself available to referrals. Work on establishing trust with others too. Connections are more than just stepping stones to success. They’re give and take relationships without hidden motives.


Make a list of your business friends and relationships. Which ones are you taking for granted? Do something that shows them you remember the connection, whether that means offering a discount or providing a shining review of their services.

2. Keeping Your Profile Up to Date 

Updating your LinkedIn profile requires more thought than I suspected. You want to demonstrate what new skills you’ve acquired recently, but there are other items to consider.

SEO Optimisation 

Using keywords in your profile is a given, but search engines are keenly aware of the overuse of words to drive up a company’s visibility. Use them intelligently and strategically, particularly in your headline.

Instead of “Information Technology Specialist,” go for “Expert IT and Linux Professional.” It’s more precise.

Complete Content: 

LinkedIn asks members a lot of questions about ourselves, our work experience, our hobbies, and our goals. Take advantage of every opportunity it gives you to share information about you and your work.


Add professional groups to your profile. It shows you stay current within your line of work. When you receive a new certificate, update your profile. Ask for endorsements from people who are familiar with your work. Give then one or two keywords to use. Specific endorsements raise your visibility.

3. Socialise with Other LinkedIn Users

Don’t worry, I don’t mean meeting up at a local coffee shop. It’s about posting to millions of people and posting to the ones who are interested in hearing from you. You’re creating your brand.


Most people appreciate information that is practical, well-written, and provides tools or tips of some sort. When you read through online trade magazines or see an interesting article, share the link. Comment on what you found useful. Ask for opinions. This engages people.


Comment on the articles other people post on LinkedIn’s News Feed. Share your opinion on the information. One thing you’ll notice in doing this is other people will respond to your comments. When that’s the case, ask to connect. The worst they can say is no.

Read about what your connections are doing. If someone has a work anniversary, congratulate them. It’s a great, unobtrusive way to reconnect to somebody with whom you haven’t spent time.


One effective way to tell the world about your skills is by contributing articles. LinkedIn allows you to publish your own articles on their forum. Writing about your abilities isn’t enough, though.

People are always asking “WIIFM?” (What’s in it for me?) Offer useful advice in your article or a tip on how to do something more easily. Give yourself props at the end, including your contact information. If you act like an expert, and sound like an expert, people will go to the expert.

4. Update Your Status When You are Available 

Everyone knows how to share your status on other social media platforms. You take pictures, you send funny memes, or say a few words about your day. LinkedIn is different.

News Feed: 

News Feed is a simple way to give and receive all types of information. The drawback is that the information can often be too general or unrelated to your field of interest or those who want to know about your work. Posting articles will get you attention, but there’s a way you can narrow down your target audience.


Update your status within your groups. The groups you list on your profile should be related to the work you do and your various business interests. If you’re in marketing, become a follower of marketing companies and join groups associated with marketing.

When you update your status and share it with people in these specific groups, they’re more likely to be interested in what you have to say than other people reading the News Feed. If you ask an opinion, people respond more quickly, and it can even result in a quick chat via IM.

5. Maintain a Very Visible Profile 

Keeping a highly visible profile on LinkedIn can feel like a full-time job, but it doesn’t have to be.


Set aside time specifically for connecting through LinkedIn. Spend an hour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays commenting on posts and articles, updating your status, and posting your own articles.


Use LinkedIn’s analytic tools to find the best times to post. It will tell you when to limit your activity and when your post is likely to get the most traffic, readers, and responses.

Face Time: 

If you want people to take you seriously, be serious about yourself. Invest in getting a professional photograph. A good one won’t cost more than $100, if that. Wear the type of clothing that would inspire you to hire yourself and smile.


Make sure you complete the summary field within your profile. Many people skip doing this, because they believe just attaching a resume will say everything. Providing a resume is smart but using the summary field to list five of your biggest achievements makes people take notice.

Final Words on Setting Up Your Killer LinkedIn Contractor Profile

I used to think I’d done everything I could to make my CV and Linked in Profile shine. I know now that there’s more to it than a good heading and a nifty picture. If increasing the visibility of your LinkedIn profile sounds like a lot of effort, remember that it does produce results. Right now, there are over 11 million jobs.

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