Case Study: Using Agile: the QA perspective

I’m blogging the conference Agile Approaches for Delivering Business Value

Using Agile: the QA perspective

Chris Ambler – QA Director Electronic Arts

Not a developer, never have been, never will be.

Not a techie! But have worked in testing (of various sorts) for 28 years.

Focus is product, and quality.

What does quality really mean? How does it affect the business? How can we measure it?

Product quality, quality of efforts…

Product quality – Stability, Excitement / Experience, Progression

Hard to measure the user experience?

Quality is the responsibility of everybody.

Quality of efforts – P * T^2 = Q

Team – up for the challenge, skilled, motivated?

Processes – and are they followed?

Timescales – does the plan allow for sufficient time to execute?

How does this relate to the business world…

The business – driven by fears – share price, not knowing what’s going on etc. Hate surprises. Want predictability, consistency, quality, profitability, transparency.

Project teams – driven by fears – losing job, not getting bonus, not delivering product. Have to deal with technology, complexity, customer expectation, environment changes, pressure to ship, floating features, avoiding surprises!

The business don’t really know what the team are doing, and the team don’t want them to know!

The team care about the link to the business – the business mostly only care about the product.

So how to pull the three together?

Review the Agile Manifesto

Highest priority is customer satisfaction

Deliver product on a regular basis – only true metric

We can handle late change – it happens!

Need direct face-to-face communication

Commit as a team – a whole team

Appropriate level of planning and documentation


Secret weapon is inspect and adapt

Seems like Agile Thinking to Chris – but how do the business think?

Game development to asset lock-down point is “a melee” – whereas the bug fix to final release time can be driven very tightly in agile way.

3 phases;

Initial Creativity – agile-ish

Massive Change – melee

Delivery – agile

But can still work in agile ways… Agile is a state of mind, not a process!

Traverse the bridge of uncertainty

Get rid of surprise with strong reporting

Use light-weight processes when you can

Don’t get into bug debt

Learn to know when you are “done”

Make sure the business do this too!

Proactive application of technology to business

My interests include technology, personal knowledge management, social change