We recently did a few webinars on agile test management using metrics where Phil Lew, our CEO stressed the importance of associating goals with metrics and one goal category was agile velocity. I’ve been working on agile projects with our clients for several years, so I decided to sit down and think of agile velocity and what holds us back from attaining our velocity goals:

Too many non-reproducible defects: The ultimate rework. Defects need to be properly researched and characterized so that they can be duplicated, understood and then fixed.

Too much manual testing: Many complaints on this one, but you can’t automate everything. Many vendors will say you can automate a high percentage of tests, but in the end we’ve seen our share of failures due to the dynamic nature of the app’s development, lack of tool capability, or maintenance of automation scripts becomes too burdensome. Before diving into automation, have a plan (as least in your mind) on what is best to automate. Try first automating things not related to the UI, for example, data set up, configuration set up, and API testing. Then when the UI is fairly mature, set up those UI test automation.

Environment not ready: This is a common problem especially when you are expected to support multiple environments across mobile and desktop, and you have multiple versions or branches for your software. In this case, automate the data, OS and configuration set up and have your software configurations automatically loaded. Invest in the hardware, either your own, or in the cloud, to facilitate setting up environments quickly.

Late Feedback or lack thereof: Many times the product owner may be slack in attending grooming meetings or daily stand ups. In these cases, it turns into mini-waterfall. The product owner should be around to hear what issues are coming up and how they can be solved, which sometimes affects how a certain feature operates. The last thing you want is giving the demo at the end of the sprint and it’s a surprise to the product owner how it operates.

This ‘agile velocity blockers’ list is by no means complete. Just a listing of what comes to mind when I draw upon my experience agile test management experience via several projects. If you have any comments on how we can add to it, or perhaps any other feedback, please write a comment/question.