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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.

Conclusion

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.

Which Agile Methodology is Best?

No matter where you go these days, you really cannot escape Agile. It is fast becoming the norm in a lot of companies today. This is also one of the reasons for the increased numbers of Agile Certifications to choose from. This is good and bad. Why bad? Because, in my experience, some companies use "Agile" as a justification for no documentation and testing on the fly!

The important thing is, understanding that, even if the method is "Agile", there are still organised methodologies that are defined. This article is designed to focus on these Agile methodologies to benefit you.

Project management has become much of a science than an art. Different software are being developed for efficient management of projects and in fact, software development in itself has become more efficient by applying the principles of project management.

Agile software development is an approach described as iterative learning technique through the collaboration of cross-functional and self-organizing groups and their end users.

The agile methodology since its birth has proved to bring significant improvements in the field of software development. There are pieces of evidence that support the claim that using agile methodologies for software development would improve the agility of developers and coordination between the teams.

Also, understand there are other methodologies out there, such as Extreme programming, and many others.

However, it gets difficult sometimes to decide which agile methodology is best. It is against that backdrop that I have come up with a guideline that would serve as a checklist when choosing between ideal agile methodologies, so that the choice is made according to your needs.

List of Agile Methodologies

To give you a fair idea about each methodology, we will be explaining each of them separately and would also be providing a comparison between them.

This would be helpful more than simple reviews to determine which agile methodology is going to work out for your project. The list of things that we are going to discuss is provided as under:

  1. What is Agile Scrum?
  2. What is Agile Kanban?
  3. When should you use Kanban?
  4. What is the difference between Agile Scrum & Traditional Waterfall models?
  5. What is Lean Agile?

1. What is Agile Scrum?

Scrum is a brilliant framework, designed for efficient software development when the requirements are volatile. The team of developers can be divided into small groups, each team working separately to reach the common goal.

The smoothness of work is ensured through 'timeboxed’ iterations and short standup meetings between the team members.

Agile Scrum emphasises on collaboration as well as an iterative approach, and flexibility to adapt to change. Each phase of the project is considered as a Sprint.

At first, the teams start with sprint planning in which they decide about duration and goals. This leads the team towards sprint objectives, which typically lasts two weeks and aims to achieve specific set of goals.

During the sprints, daily scrum is maintained through short standup meetings in which members participate and discuss their progress, using burndown charts and other measurement metrics. Finally, the sprint ends with a review session and the team adapts to the changes in requirements and situation as well as learns from its errors.

The product owner lists the product backlog which contains a set of activities need to be done by every team member collaboratively. Each item on the product backlog has a priority ranking as well. Assignment of these items to each sprint of the project takes place during sprint planning subsequently. These items are then moved from product backlog to sprint backlog.

The Role of a Scrum Master

The Scrum Master ensures the goal is achieved promptly and schedules daily meetings to stay updated on the progress of the project. Once a sprint is completed, the team presents the work they have finished in the final sprint review meeting. Based on the product delivered at the end of the sprint, iterations for next sprint are planned. The entire process repeats itself, right from the creation of a new sprint backlog to when the next sprint of the project commences.

Did Scrum pique your interest? Then watch this video of a conversation with Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the creators of Scrum:


2. What is Agile Kanban?

Kanban is another agile methodology that helps eliminating the mismatch between demand of work and supply of resources. The idea behind Kanban is to provide a visual process feedback to the entire workforce.

With Kanban, you can visualise the process along with each work passing through that process.

It is a lean method which is quite useful for improving the workflow across human systems. It provides the opportunity to manage the entire workforce single handedly.

You use Kanban board to visualise the entire workflow, progress of each work, assess work capacity and its impact on the whole team.

This assessment allows you to rectify the situation in case a team member or an individual unit has over-committed and may fail to deliver what they committed within the allocated deadline.

What is a Kanban Board?

Kanban board is the typical tool used to inform workers regarding how, what and when to produce. The methodology helps in providing a broad overview of the workflow to the entire team.

The board also consists of columns that define the “status” of the work in progress as it passes through different stages of the workflow. For example, the status of a product can be “in development”,it can be “testing”, or “Ready-to-Release” and “Released” during the entire workflow.

Kanban allows you to identify potential bottlenecks quickly in the process and fix them to enable passage of work through the workflow in a cost-effective and optimised manner.

This way, multitasking and context switching wastes are reduced drastically and the timespan of project is also reduced. Top management can easily reiterate the goals to the developers using Kanban board efficiently.

Did you know that you can trace the origin of Kanban framework to the factories of Toyota? Watch here:


3. When should you use Kanban?

Kanban is a universal methodology and can be used with scrum together. To be specific, Kanban emphasizes more on the work states rather than iterations. The focus of Kanban is on work, rather than time and predictability.

You can use the Kanban board to visualize the work processes in different work states and can place a limit on the work in progress. This is a proven technique used to equate the demand with supply.

Kanban can be a preferred methodology if the focus is on good work flow and throughput. If you do not have a list of backlogs and you want to burn small issues immediately as they raise, using Kanban would be more efficient than scrum.

There is certainly no planning involved at all and you can direct the team through visuals to attack the problems in sequential manner to maintain a good flow of work.

4. Difference between Agile Scrum & Traditional Waterfall models

Broadly speaking, traditional waterfall model allows the work to fall like water from one team to the other without any option of turning back. This is the reason which differentiates the two models i.e.

Scrum methodology allows inter as well as intra departmental communication and devotes more time to planning, whereas traditional waterfall model only have intra departmental communication. Therefore, traditional waterfall model may backfire in case of a dispute between two work teams or departments.

Another major difference is related to the progression of work. Agile scrum divides the work into iterations and allows both backward and forward movements; however, this flexibility is not available with Traditional waterfall methodology. Moreover, this flexibility allows Scrum methodology to complete the project sooner than waterfall model.

5.What is Lean Agile?

The ideology behind Lean Agile is to make an agile process further lean by eliminating wasteful processes. This can be done using the Generally Accepted Agile-Principles that provide a broad framework to eliminate non-value adding processes.

The following are the additional practices that can be adopted in order to convert an agile process into Lean Agile:

  • Backlog Grooming: The component of backlog is added into daily scrums and ways are developed to get rid of backlogs.
  • Acceptance Criteria-Driven Developments: Using the daily scrums, all possible test scenarios are developed to reduce defect rates and to deliver high quality product to the customer.
  • Code Refactoring: The idea is to restructure the logic of the code without affecting its functionality. This provides an easy way to improve the efficiency and runtime of the code. Continuous refactoring is used to add a new feature, remove the defect and for the code review.

Agile Methodologies Summary

We have tried to compile a short manual for you regarding the common agile methodologies prevalent in software development. The criteria for choosing the best methodology depend chiefly upon the needs of your project.

A large project may be well managed using a mix of Kanban and Scrum or Large-Scale Scrum methodology. It is your creativity that makes these methodologies efficient for your project. With the guidelines provided above, a checklist can be developed to identify the suitable agile methodology for your project.

We hope that you enjoyed going through our list and we recommend you to analyse the circumstances at your end first before deciding which agile methodology is best. But before you go, lets look deeper into two of these methodologies: 

Agile Scrum vs Kanban: What Is The Big Difference?

There are many project management frameworks available in the market. Choosing which framework is right for your project is not an easy decision. Scum? Waterfall? Kanban? They all have their pros and cons. The key is to identify which methodology is best suited to your project.

Agile methodology is considered highly suitable for complex projects. According to PWC, Agile projects are 28% more successful than the traditional ones.

Scrum and Kanban are the two methodologies, belonging to the Agile family, that have been trending lately. Let’s look at both the frameworks and understand the critical differences between them, which in turn will help you choose the right framework for your project.

Scrum Vs Kanban: 3 Key Segments

The fundamental differences between Scrum and Kanban can be categorised into three segments:

#1. The Iterative Process


As you read above, the scrum is provided with a prioritised list of items that need to be completed within a sprint to deliver a product. The team must decide on the number of things they can finish within one sprint. Anything outside the scope has to wait until the next sprint. Ideally, a capable scrum team will identify their capabilities over a period leading to optimised estimates in each sprint and improved performance.


Thus, the scrum team produces a shippable product every two weeks (ideal time of each sprint; may vary based on project complexity), and dedicate their focus on continually optimising the process, eventually moving to the next sprint. This iterative practice enables constant improvement and effective management of multiple projects.

For Kanban team, there are no iterations. Though Kanban methodology is iterative in nature, the continuous optimisation occurs in an evolutionary manner as each work is executed in the process. A limitation is set on various conditions by the organisation (or teams) to prevent the bottleneck from occurring in the process. The workflow is thereby, regulated until an optimal set of limits is reached, making the workflow efficient and steady.

#2 Team Roles

For scrum teams to perform efficiently, there must be at least three roles assigned to the group. They are Product Owner, the sprint team members, as well as a Scrum Master. Each team member has their own set of responsibilities and must operate collaboratively to maintain organised balance. The sprint team must be cross-functional and be equipped with all the necessary resources and skills to complete the sprint’s assigned tasks.

No fix roles are assigned to a Kanban team. It does not make sense to have a project manager or a supervisor in the Kanban team. In fact, the roles evolve within the organisation, theoretically speaking, depending on the need and progressfor the Kanban project and organisation. Like Scrum team, the Kanban team need not be cross-functional as Kanban workflow is utilised by all the teams participating in the project. You can have a group of specialists or an entirely different squad of generalists working on various aspects of the same project using the same Kanban board.

#3 The Board

Both Kanban and Scrum board model consist of three primary columns: “To do” as well as “Doing”, and “Done”.While the fundamental board model has similarity, both scrum and Kanban boards are entirely different.

The Scrum board consists of columns that reflect periods in the workflow commencing with the sprint backlog and the period ending it. The things that are needed to be done at the start of the sprint are mentioned in the last column marked as successful or unsuccessful at the end of the sprint. The completed sprintis assessed, after which the board is cleared,and new sprintis prepped for the project.

A Kanban board has columns labelled to present workflow states as well. However, the critical difference lies in the number of tasks/stories allowed in each column at a time.

The team members are presented with limitations for each condition of the workflow. Like in scrum board, there is no sprint length,i.e. time boxes, which negates the need to rest the Kanban board as the project progresses. New tasks are added,or completed tasks are re-assessed based on project progress and needs.

Scrum vs Kanban Summary

Both Scrum and Kanban are one of the best frameworks that can vastly improve your project management needs.

The best plan of action is to get familiar with both the frameworks and test their aspects in your production environment. You can also build a hybrid framework if it serves your project in the best manner.

I hope that the above-listed differences will help you identify which framework suits your project most.

Which framework have you been using for your projects? What are your thoughts on these frameworks? Maybe you've dabbled with TDD?  Let me know in comments below. Hit the Like and Share button below if you found this article helpful.

What is included in the ISTQB Agile Syllabus?

So, What is included in the Syllabus?

At the time of writing the ISTQB Agile Extension is relatively new and many potential candidates, like yourself are interested in the Syllabus

These are three high level topics covered:

  1. Agile Software Development
  2. Fundamental Agile Testing Principles
  3. Agile Testing Method

Many people do not have an understanding of what is included in the ISTQB Agile Syllabus so I decided to put up all this useful information in this article.

These days, in the testing industry, you can't get away from the Agile methodology. When I first started testing, approx 17 years ago, the V-Model was the norm. Nowadays it is seen as quite an old fashioned methodology, albeit quit a solid one.

What is the ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension-Certification?

You may probably have an idea of what the extension certification is but I am going to provide a detailed description all the same.

Who needs the certification?

This Agile tester is very important to people who are directly involved with iterative projects and comes in handy to individuals such as test managers, user acceptance testers, software developers, testers and testers.

What Qualifications do you need for the  certification?

Apparently, you do not require a lot of qualifications to be eligible for the course. The certification requires you to have general knowledge of terminologies, processes and test designs of different software.

However, acquisition of the ISTQB Foundation-Certificate is considered to be an added advantage.

What we can You learn from the Agile tester certification?

This syllabus provides a useful insight into key aspects such as: a clear understanding of the fundamentals of Agile Software-development, mastering the skills and roles of a software tester as well as understanding differences of software testing using traditional methods and Agile techniques.

It will also familiarise you with Agile testing methods, processes, techniques, and tools. Another important lesson is acquiring the knowledge of quality risks involved in Agile projects.


What is the best ISTQB agile-certification book? 

If you are reading this article, there are high chances that you are probably one of the people mentioned above who need the ISTQB Agile syllabus. We are well aware that you may be asking yourself which is the best book to purchase and our answer is “ISTQB Agile-Tester: Agile testing lesson”. 

This book is printed in three versions whereby there is lesson one, two and three. The book is authored by Steen Lerche-Jensen.

The lesson one book will prepare you for the syllabus since it introduces you for all that you need to know about Agile Software-Development. The author takes you through the fundamentals of Agile processes as well as the principles of testing and software testing practices.

It will also equip you with agile testing techniques, tool and methods.

On reading the lesson 2, you will find that the author goes into details on the processes and practices and mentions the nine agile testing principles of software testing. The author systematical elaborates the differences in traditional testing methods and Agile approaches.

The lesson three book provides you with the rest of the information that you need to know about Agile techniques such as the acceptance criteria and important definitions. This is the book that we feel is good for anyone who wishes to have an understanding of Agile techniques that will enable the reader to acquire ISTQB agile certification.

Is the ISTQB agile tester one-for-all all-for-one Book any good? 

This is a 117-page book authored by Steen Lerche-Jensen designed to take the reader through comprehensive know-how of the ISTQB Agile-Test Foundation materials.

It is a good book. The book takes you through detailed information regarding Agile Software-Development. As a reader, this book will ensure that you acquire necessary information on this type of software development such as tools, principles, practices, testing methods and techniques, and processes.

The author appreciates the fact that all the stakeholders in software development should act in collaboration to ensure that a project is successful. For this reason, the book is titled “one-for-all all-for-one” which is a slogan used by the famous three musketeers. The book stresses on collaborative practices by the stakeholders because the failure of one will ultimately lead to the failure of the entire team. The reverse is also true.

What is the best ISTQB agile-tester preparation?

Like any other exam, passing will entirely depend on how much you have prepared yourself. It takes a lot of determination and hard work to acquire the ISTQB Agile-Tester certification and therefore we advise you to follow the following procedure.

  1. Studying: The first step to passing certification is studying your reading materials. We suggest that you go through the book we have recommended “ISTQB Agile-Tester: Agile-testing lesson”. You should ensure that you go through all the three lessons at least 3-4 times. This will ensure that you grasp the concept of Agile Software-development and prepare you for any questions on the same.

  2. Booking the exam: Even if you study and publish your own book, you will not get the tester certification if you do not take the exam. Once you feel confident that you are ready, visit ISTQB’s website www.istqb.org to find a registered exam provider within your area. You will be required to provide your personal details such as passport or ID number, name as well as place & date and Foundation-level certificate number if you have one. After you have provided this information, you can proceed with making the payment.

  3. Checking the exam structure: The exam is based on multiple choice questions that are distributed evenly across three chapters. The chapters 1, 2 and 3 have 13, 12 and 15 questions respectively. The total number of questions is 40 and you are required to answer 26 or more correctly to pass the exam.

    We also recommend you to familiarise yourself with the sample paper and answer sheet provided by the ISTQB.


​The Importance of the Agile Tester Extension

For people who are in the Information Technology field, ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension Certification is an important element that not only improves your chances of getting employment, but also enhances your skills.

I realised that every business organisation has incorporated IT into their business processes with large organisations having an IT department.

As an IT expert, you are required to have extensive knowledge of Agile-Software Development and to prove this, an ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension Certification is necessary.

If you are preparing yourself to get certified, I strongly recommend that you go through this article again consider reading the suggested books.

I guarantee you that this will prepare you for the exams which will eventually lead to certification. If the article has been helpful, I urge you to leave your sentiments in the comments section and share the same with your friends on your favourite social media platform.

5 Things you Need to do to Get a Certified Agile Tester Job

certified agile tester jobs


Getting the Agile certification is one thing, getting a job is another.

I had a friend, an excellent software tester, arrogant even! He had joined a new organisation recently. Now, this organisation used the agile methodology integrated within all its practices.

He didn’t last three months there! So why did he fail? Despite being a good and experienced tester, he lacked certain qualities that are required of an Agile software tester.

So, you’ve only worked as a traditional Software Tester throughout your career. You don’t get involved much in the development stage and usually come in only at the end of the product development stage.

But now you have recognised that more and more companies are adopting agile development methodology. In fact, according to Project Management Institute, 71% of organisations use the agile approach sometimes, often or always.

They don’t want a traditional tester anymore! They want to work with a certified Agile Tester who will collaborate with the team throughout the development cycle. With Agile methodology, the testing needs to be done iteratively with each release to ensure that the client requirements are met.

To get an Agile Tester job, you need to move away from the daily routine that you performed as a part of traditional QA team. Let’s look at five things you need to do to get a certified Agile Tester job:


01. Get Your Certifications and Gain Working Knowledge

Start assimilating every information you get about agile methodology. Ask yourself these fundamental questions like:

  • What is agile?
  • How does agile relate to testing?
  • Why agile?
  • What are the principles of agile methodology?

The Agile Manifesto is a great resource for deep diving into each of these.

Once you understand the basics, focus on acquiring the technical skills necessary to be a successful agile tester. You can boost your knowledge base with additional certifications.

Here are few of them recommended by CIO:

Apart from the certification courses, make sure you gain working knowledge of the agile processes and learn the right tools that support agile testing.

2. Learn to Communicate and Collaborate

As an Agile tester, you’ll be working closely with the developers and stakeholders than ever before. You’ll need to brush up your communication skills as you’ll be working in a highly collaborative environment, attending standup meetings, looking at burndown charts, etc.

Once you find a defect in the product, you’ll need to communicate it immediately to the developer. You may even need to allow them to use your system to let them debug and solve the problem as quickly as possible. You may also be asked to present complete information regarding critical defects and the time it took to patch them to the key stakeholders.

You may also need to help the members of your team who may need assistance in completing their part of the project. You need to understand that you are not a “back-office” personnel anymore, but part of a team that is working together to deliver a project successfully. Clear communication and collaboration is key to that success.

According to a VersionOne survey, 63% respondents blamed the clash between business culture and Agile business philosophy for the failure of Agile implementations.

Want to know what a capable, agile team would look like? Watch this Rob Lambert video for the answer: 

3. Learn to Embrace Change

Instead of most people staying true to their human nature, always tend to resist change! Now moving from traditional practice to agile is a significant change as well. In an agile environment, you are not only expected to accept changes but also deal with them effectively. You need to adopt new practices and responsibilities. One minute you are working on developing a new feature, next moment you are working on redesigning the same feature based on client feedback.

Asking the right questions to your team and understanding client requirements before you start working on it is the way to go. Doing so will significantly reduce the change in your tasks and disruptions mid-project. Regularly groom and reassess the backlogs in case of disruptions. They are natural in big projects, and the benefit of agile methodology is that the interruption will only affect the current phase of the project rather than the entire project. Don’t cope with change, welcome it!

4. Programming is Important, Now More Than Ever

I am sure you’ll agree with me when I say that knowledge of a bit of programming will help you test the software more effectively. Organisations will consider you as a critical asset and powerful addition to their team if you have developed testing skills with the technical know-how of programming as well.

In an agile environment, knowledge in coding has become crucially beneficial to testers. This knowledge will help you execute your tasks efficiently and swiftly. No need to annoy developers for every little query related to coding anymore!

Did you know that coding is key to a test automation career? Learn about it yourself. And this where I take you to the next section...

5. Learn to Automate

As we read earlier, changes and disruptions are constant in an agile environment. Code needs to be tested every time it is changed, and manual testing will simply take too much time. You must know how to automate your tests and speed up the regression testing process.

Knowledge of coding is significantly useful in learning test automation as test steps can be coded and then can be reused to execute other scripts as well. Combine the knowledge of coding and automation, and you can be a significant QA force for your organisation.

Final Thoughts On Agile Jobs

Agile changes a lot, whether it is the pace of the development process, your KPIs, or how you collaborate with your team. However, fundamentally you are still a software tester.

These are the 5 things you need to do to get a certified Agile Tester job. Master these five essential skills, and you’ll be a valued addition to any organisation as an agile tester.

What are your thoughts on the points listed above? Do you agree with me? If not, do share your perspective in the comments below. If you liked what you read, please hit the like button below and don’t forget to share it with your friends and colleagues. 

 Before you go, lets look at taking action and look at the actual dates of the exam:

How can I Find the ISTQB agile tester extension certification exam dates?

ISTQB agile tester extension certification exam dates

Exam Dates 

Since ASTQB exams are conducted globally, they are issued on different dates depending on where you wish to have them. You are therefore required to find out where the exam dates of your preferred locality are being issued.

However, it is important to note that these exams are not issued in all cities and therefore you should select the location that is most convenient for you.

There are many places where this information can be sourced but we advise you look for the information on ISTQB’s website. It will assist you in identifying an exam provider within your locality that is licensed by the organization.

It is important to use their website since there are cases where people have cheated only to pay for counterfeited certifications.

Exam Dates in India

Lets look at one particular location, for example, ITB (Indian Testing-Board) is the ISTQB-approved national  board of India that conducts ISTQB certified tester exams in India.

ITB was founded in February 2004 and was officially recognised by ISTQB in April 2004. Right from 2014,  ITB has issued more than 60,000 certifications across the country.

ITB has already announced the dates and locations of the Agile-Tester
Extension-Certification Exam
for the year 2018. They will be held in
Bangalore, Noida, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Trivandrum, Kolkata, and
Chennai. The exam will be held in these cities throughout the year.

Once you have booked and confirmed your seat for the exam at a scheduled
date, keep a close eye on any communication you receive from ITB before
your exam. The exam dates or venue may change, and they will inform you
via email or message about the change.

Entry Requirements, Test Procedure, and Structure

You must be I.S.T.Q.B Foundation Level certified [ISTQB Foundation Level certified] before you apply for Agile Tester Extension Certification Exam.

Who is This certification exam ideal for?

These are the ideal candidates:

  • Software testers with significant experience in traditional methodology but new to the agile environment.
  • Entry-level software testers with a noteworthy interest in agile testing.
  • Software testers with little or strong knowledge of agile testing looking to gain professional recognition or boost their current profile.

What is the format of the Agile Exam?

The exam is conducted in two formats: Public Exam and Corporate Exam. We will look at the schedule of the public exam below. If you have a group of minimum ten candidates willing to appear for the exam within your corporate premise, the board will visit your office and conduct the test.

The ISTQB Agile-Tester Extension-Certification Exam consists of 40 multiple choice questions. You need to answer these questions within 60 minutes. You also need to score at least 65%, i.e., answer at least 26 questions correctly out of 40 to pass the test.

You can get complete details about the exam structure to help you.

Helpful Study Material

There is an abundant amount of study material available on the market that can help you prepare for this test.

You can consider borrowing, renting, purchasing any of the following books/e-books:

  • AGILE TESTING I.S.T.Q.B TESTER EXTENSION-CERTIFICATION by Chhavi-Raj Dosaj
  • Sample Exam-Questions- I.S.T.Q.B Foundation-Level Agile-Tester Extension-Exam by Chhavi-Raj Dosaj
  • I.S.T.Q.B Agile Tester: "One-for-all, all-for-one" by Steen Lerche-Jensen
  • Agile Testing: A Practical-Guide for Testers & Agile-Teams by Lisa Crispin

I highly recommend reading the books mentioned above as they provide excellent fundamental knowledge of Agile testing.

You can consider refereeing Study Guides from following websites:

You can also view these study videos (Note: they are not the most updated ones. However, significant points covered are still relevant)

Even if you don’t plan to apply for the exam, these study materials will boost your knowledge regarding understanding the overall scope of testing in any project.

Final Words on ISTQB Agile Certification Exam Dates

You have the exam dates! You have access to the study materials! You know the syllabus!

I hope that this guide helps you with all the information you need to prepare well for the exam and pass it successfully. If you have more news or insights that you feel is missing above or if you have any questions or queries, let me know in the comments below.

Did you find this guide helpful? Spread the word by sharing it with your colleagues, friends, and loved ones. Hit the Like and Share Button below!

What is the Agile Methodology discussed in the ISTQB certification?

The Agile methodology comprises a set of values and principles applied in the processes for developing software just like other software development methodologies such as the Waterfall model. The word “agile” refers to the capability of something to move easily and rapidly. This is a major feature of the Agile methodology.


When used, it takes a shorter timeframe to complete a project when compared to other methodologies. Iterations are used in Agile projects to deliver prearranged features. The following information will improve your understanding on what is the Agile methodology discussed in the ISTQB certification.

Key Phases Involved in Agile Methodology

  1. The Concept Phase: During this first step, you and your team analyzes and arranges projects in order of importance. Each concept will require a definition of the business opportunity and how much time it will take to deliver the project.

    Once this information is compiled, you will be able to determine the achievability of each project and know which one is worth working on.

  2. The Inception Phase: Here, you will work on the requirements with the stakeholders. You can create a flow chart that explains how the feature you’re developing should work.

    You then choose people who work on your team and develop a timeline for each activity showing when specific work needs to be completed for the length of the sprint.

  3. The Iteration Phase: The developers and designers start to work on the initial iteration of the project. Their main goal here is to create a working product at the end of the given timeframe. This is just the first iteration as the product will go through quite a number of adjustments.

  4. The Release Phase: To complete the software iteration, the system is tested for errors or malfunctions. The user and system documentation are finalized for everyone to get a clear picture on how the system works and how they can improve it. After this, the iteration is released into production.

  5. The Production Phase: In this phase, your team works at ensuring the system functions smoothly and trains the users how to work with it.

  6. The Retirement Phase: It is in this final step that you move the system from production, more so when you’re ready to replace it with another release.

So What Exactly is an Agile Sprint?

An Agile sprint refers to the specific duration of time during which certain tasks have to be finished and prepared to be reviewed. Sprints usually last for about 10 working days and comprise the following steps:

  • A planning meeting where the team gets together and discusses the mechanisms for the forthcoming work.
  • Designing and developing the product keeping the official guidelines in mind.
  • Testing the results and documenting them.
  • Presenting the product to the client.
  • Gathering feedback from the client and integrating it in the next sprint.

What Does the Agile Scrum Refer To?

The Scrum is a subdivision of the Agile methodology. It is the most commonly used set of practices for Agile development. In simpler terms, it is a framework used to manage processes involved in a project. Scrum is mostly used when developing intricate software through the use of iteration practices.

It is preferred due to the fact that it reduces time and increases your team’s productivity. In addition, Scrum makes allows you to easily adjust to changes in product requirements. It helps you to:

  • Handle change easily.
  • Improve the quality of the finished product.
  • Take control of the project timeline.
  • Give the best estimates while simultaneously using less time to create them.

Scrum is dependent on a team that is self-organizing, such that the entire team will together make decisions on who will be assigned what task. Also, everyone in the team must have the ability to develop a feature from the concept to execution phase.

There are two major roles in the Scrum model; the Scrum Master who is basically the team leader and the Product Owner/PO who is the customer/user.

So what is Agile Design?

When you think about it carefully, agile design refers to the implementation of Agile development principles to the design process. Due to the fact that every designer on your team is different, it is important for you to choose the best techniques that work for you and get accustomed to them as you move on.


Some of these principles include:

  • Involving your clients in every step of the processes: This is the best way for you to ensure that the client gets a clear understanding of what they are working towards as opposed to conventional design processes that work at a creating a perfect final end-product.
  • Compile work from your teams regularly: This will help you to detect bugs or issues that may interfere with the overall product and fix them immediately or note them down to be adjusted in the next iteration.
  • Always Carry Out Tests: Frequent testing will allow your team to identify and solve problems and this will consequently catalyze your team’s creativity.

What Are the Most Common Tools Used in Agile Design?

In order to be successful, designers and developers need to seamlessly work together.
The following are some of the most common collaboration tools and software used in Agile design:

  • Slack: A chat application that keeps your team updated every minute.
  • Justinmind: A prototyping tool for both mobile and web applications.
  • Asana: Assists your teams to plan their projects and organize daily activities through a platform the enables them to track the status of their jobs.
  • Agreedo: Helps your team to plan scrum meetings.
  • ProductPlan: Assists with creating roadmaps which help your team to visualize the strategy.

To sum it up, the Agile Methodology has proven to be the best with regards to using less time in the software development process. Did you enjoy this detailed explanation regarding the Agile Methodology? I chose to cover the areas as presented so as to explain the main components involved in this methodology and in the simplest way possible.

Feel free to leave a comment below with your feedback and if you enjoyed the article, don’t forget to share it with others who would be interested in the subject.

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