The second meeting of the Cape Town Test Automation User Group took place in March at Allan Gray. The events are organised by Allan Gray and software developer DVT with the aim of providing a platform for both testers and automation specialist to share ideas and tools on a quarterly basis.

“Debate topics have been introduced to spice up the event and to differentiate the discussions from other events focussed on software testing,” says Mario Matthee, head of software quality assurance at DVT. “Karen Greaves, an experienced agile coach and trainer at Growing Agile, defended the statement she made at a Scrum User Group event a few months ago which was, ‘throw away test management and defect tracking tools in Scrum’.”

The event was well attended by both test analysts and automation specialist from junior, intermediate and senior levels.

“The outcome was very interesting as audience response showed,” adds Matthee. “As Karen continued her defence the questions started flowing. The outcome is definitely the middle ground for a fiercely debated topic.”

It was concluded that Greaves’ statement holds some truth only if three conditions have been met on the part of the Scrum team:

• The story must be small enough so it won’t result in many defects
• The turnaround time for fixing defects must be quick
• The code delivered from development must be of good quality already

“Everybody agreed that these conditions are not always present in practice,” says Matthee. “Some of the attendees are very close to getting it right, so it can be done. But for the most part, agreement was reached that test management and defect tracking tools are used as a ‘plan B’ and we should strive instead to not use these tools because they slow Scrum teams down.”

The tools are used because the three conditions are not always met and they therefore allow the test team to be more effective.

“Without these tools the testing effort would be ineffective,” says Matthee. “In some instances, these tools must be used for legal and regulatory reasons. There will always be a place for them in Scrum, but if Scrum is applied correctly and the project does not have to comply with legal or regulatory standards, we should try to avoid them.”

Greaves says that in that case, the focus is on fixing issues that are found rather than logging them to fix later and using an automated test suite in place of a test management tool.