Rik and I talking about our contribution to Tesena Fest in Vienna

Watch this video and find out what my presentation and Rik Marselis’ workshop will be about. We will both be at the Tesena Fest in Vienna on the 5th of March. The question is where will you be? We hope to see you at the front row.

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18 Questions to Ask for Better Backlog Refinement

Refinement is time spent during the current sprint discussing and elaborating product backlog items so that they are ready for future sprints. Unfortunately, many teams do not unlock the full potential of refinement. Backlog items should be sliced, and a solution should be proposed, reviewed, and discussed. For Agile Connection I wrote an article with 18 handy questions that you can use trigger refinement discussions.

You can read it on Techwell’s Agile connection:

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The role of the Agile Coach in the 3rd wave of agile – part 2

Two weeks ago Bits & Chips published the first part of my new article on agile transformations: The role of the agile coach in the 3rd wave of agile – part 1. I am pleased to share the second part of the article. In this article I describe the 3rd wave. If you want to know what organisations that are in the 3rd wave of adoption have on their mind, you should read this.

I’ll describe how I see the role of the agile coach evolve from a Team Coach into that of a Business consultant or Councillor. In order to complete the article I added a table that gives an overview of the challenges for each wave. I trust it serves as a checklist and can help agile coaches to explain why they focus on certain aspects.

You can find the article on the bits&chips site: The role of the agile coach in the 3rd wave of agile – part 2.

I like to encourage you to comment on the article. Do you recognise the challenges and what are your experiences?

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The role of the agile coach in the 3rd wave of Agile

Bits & Chips published the first part of my new article on agile transformations. Analysing the various organizations I’ve worked with, I distinguish three separate waves, each with its own challenges and scope. Understand the three waves of agile enables us to have a better grip on Agile transformations and helps agile coaches to explain why they focus on certain aspects. It puts our interventions in perspective and provides a roadmap for the organisation. But last but not least I trust the article will provide insight into how the role of Agile coaching is developing.

Part one of the article describes the first two waves. In two weeks time we’ll publish part 2 that will describe the 3rd wave and contains a table that summarises the challenges for each wave.

You can find the article on the bits&chips site: The role of the agile coach in the 3rd wave of agile – part 1.

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Speaking at Agile Amsterdam

The 4th edition of Agile Amsterdam will be held in September 2020. The conference aims to nourish and cultivate the agile mindset. The conference program consists out of a warming-up evening, a full day of talks, workshops and open space sessions that are followed by masterclasses on the second day.

Although the event seems still far away in time the first speakers are announced. Confirmed companies and speakers to date are Mary Poppendieck, Dave West (CEO Scrum.org), Bloomberg, Booking-com, Shell (tbc), and more

I am utterly thrilled to be part of the speaker line-up for Agile Amsterdam next year. More information about my contribution will follow.

More information about the conference can be found at the Agile Amsterdam website

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Leading Quality – Review of the book by Ronald Cummings-John and Owais Peer

I recently obtained myself a copy of Leading Quality by Ronald Cummings-John and Owais Peer.  The black book cover contains five stars and a subtitle: “How great leaders deliver High Quality software and Accelerate Growth”.  Being extremely interested in agile leadership and built-in Quality, I was sold. I read the book and believe it was a wise decision to but the five-star rating already on the cover. I thought it a valuable read.

Although the book is a book for testers, the book does not explain how you can do your tests. As Neil Brown states in the foreword. Being just good at testing is no longer sufficient. Quality is key to business success and test-leads must impact teams throughout the organization, align with business teams and work within the overall goals and directions of the business. The authors introduce the quality narrative, you can talk about the responsibility or ownership of quality, the right way to test or focus on the value of testing. In the following chapters they discuss topics that help to build a quality strategy and shape testing so it adds value.

For example, the discussion on Continues Testing helps to understand why you do certain tests. It is more than automating tests. Ronald and Owais rather define continues testing as the ability to test an application in every stage of its development cycle. The table by Elisabeth Hendrickson (page 66) links test questions with types of tests and invite you to think about testing on a more strategic level. What do you want to learn from your tests?

I liked the approach explained in chapter 5. The authors explain how a new product evolves and the testing purpose shifts accordingly. A clear example is given of a game manufactory that initially doesn’t care that much for quality, but rather validates whether the product is the right product. Predictability and scaling are relevant but later product life cycle. Conclusion: the quality strategy follows the product life cycle.

In the rest of the book automation, infrastructure, Growth Metrics and Persona’s are discussed. In the last chapter all previous topics are combined into one quality strategy. Great leaders start with a clear vision, but you need not only to know where you are going, but also where you currently are. The example of Ashley that mapped the development pipeline and overlaid the testing process on top of it, is one more inspiring example and I believe in the value of this practice.  The rest of the chapter refers to the preceding chapters that form the ingredients of the quality strategy. A good quality strategy is one step towards built-in quality, so I am pleased that now there is a book on this topic available. Personally, I think the last chapter could have been a little more elaborated, but for me, the book earned all five stars that are already printed on the cover.

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Keynote at Tenesa fest Vienna

I am excited to announce that I will be keynote speaker at Tesena Fest Vienna on March 5th 2020. I’ll be talking about Built-in Quality, a topic that I am really enthusiastic about. I believe it is a topic that rightfully is gaining more attention. Although Built-in Quality is a core principle in Lean and the Scaling Agile Framework, for many it is not clear how you build quality in. I have been publishing and talking about embedding Quality in SAFe (see e.g. ebook Q in SAFe) and BIQ is part of our Test managent workshop. But think there is more to tell. I am looking forward to bringing my insights together in one inspiring keynote.

More info on the conference and the call for papers, see the conference website

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The Challenges Ahead- Keynote at the AgileTD 2019

This week Jan Jaap Cannegieter and I had the honour to present a keynote at the Agile Testing Days in Potsdam. In our keynote “The challenges ahead we discussed trends that we see around us and how these challenge us. One conclusion is that we are more likely to be confronted with new technologies and applications of these technologies and we are more likely to be in a situation where we do not know how to test it. So adoption new skills and knowledge and learning are crucial. During the keynote we also looked at this years conference program, to highlight sessions that relate to the challengers that lay ahead….

Please find the slides below:

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EuroSTAR workshop: Planning and Testing your releases

The last year I became aware of a growing ‘flying shame’. Did you hear other people apologize that they take a flight or maybe you yourself searched for alternatives that are more environmentally friendly….

I used this setting for a new case: “The green traveler.”  I will use this case as basis for my workshop at the EuroSTAR conference this year. In the “Planning and Testing your releases” workshop we will prioritise our backlog, define valuable releases and make a roadmap. See more details on the conference website.

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Conference season

The conference season has definitely started, I realised as a was checking my schedule. Today I was,

  • Uploading my slides for EuroSTAR
  • Making slides
  • Signing a speaker contract
  • Reviewing proposals for the Agile Testing Days USA
  • Preparing the hand-outs for ATD Germany

A lot of things happening….

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The 24th Testing Retreat was Awesome

The Testing Retreat is an international peer conference that aims to discuss relevant test topics and inspire its participants. During this 24th edition we had 13 participants from the Netherlands, UK, Belgium, Poland, Denmark and even the USA. During normal conferences there is mostly little time to have the in-dept sessions of the kind that the retreat hosts. This weekend we gathered in Friesland to discuss:

  • The role of the tester in Agile development
  • Scaling agile and the the place of the test manager
  • Feedback driven testing
  • DevOps and Testing
  • Test automation research
  • Metamorphic testing in non determinant systems
  • Updating the 2012 Mapa Testi

During the breaks dinner and time-of moments we discussed a lot of different topics as well. It was a very nice, inspiring weekend, that I trust enables participant to improve their value as test professional and to see developments in right perspective. I am already looking forward for next year’s edition, which will be the 25th edition.

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New Job! A great opportunity that I love to embrace.

This week I started with Squerist. The last 9+ years I have worked at Valori and did many beautiful, interesting and fun things. Things that stand out among these are embedding the quality into development, setting up test strategies and helping organizations with their agile transformation.  I will continue to do so within Squerist. Squerist is a Dutch consultancy company that is specialised in progression. Their mission is to continuously improve and develop their employees, their customers and their expertise. They already offer services on Software testing, Business transformation and Security. Together with Squerist I’m going to see how we further grow our agile services and make it into a fourth group of services. A great opportunity that I love to embrace! I believe my passion for quality and agile practices fits right in.

Choosing something also means saying no to something else. Unfortunately, I have to say goodbye to Valori. But I hope to meet you all in my new context, as Test Manager, Agile Coach or at one of the conferences to which I contribute.

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The Relevance of Built in Quality

With Valori we published a new eBook in the series on Digital transformation.

This publication is a follow up on the trend report that was released earlier this year. In this previous ebook we described disruptive trends and explained why organisations need to become adaptive.  In this second edition we focus on the development practises that companies embrace to do so.  In the first part we describe how Agile, DevOps,  CI/CD  and Scaling contribute to business agility. I believe it is a nice introduction for managers, stakeholders and  professionals that are not entirely familiar with these development practises.

The second part of the eBook deals with Built in Quality. We state that the concept of creating fast feedback loops crumbles when you cannot release frequently.  Without confidence in system quality, we cannot make quick adjustments and receive no feedback on the impact of implemented improvements. Built in Quality provides the confidence in the quality of the systems so that we dare to change them frequently and take them into production.   In the eBook we introduce the built in quality circle. It provides an overview of the steps in the development cycle and where errors can be prevented.

I am proud of my contribution to this eBook and hope you find it useful. You can download your free copy of Hoe word je wendbaar als organisatie? – Het belang van built in quality from the Valori site.

download button

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How to Incorporate Testing in a SAFe Development Process.

I stumbled on an interesting webinar by 321Gang.com on how to incorporate testing on the various levels in the SAFe framework. Wade Towles explains that Built-In quality is one of the Scaled Agile Framework’s (SAFe) four Core Values and a core principle of the Lean-Agile Mindset. In the webinar  he explains how to Incorporate Testing in a SAFe Development Process using Rational Quality Manger (RQM). Keeping track of what needs to be tested and how is critical for success, especially in regulated environments.

The webinar describes the relationship between requirements on epic, feature and story level (at approx 7:15 min) and shows how capability, feature plans and system demo plans are required to organise testing.

Wade states (at approx 8:30 min) that in order to have effective testing at team level the system team 0r the integration test team should write a PI testplan for the program with a child testplan for each feature in the PI. This Feature testplan ties together the tests done on each features

Likewise at System demo testplan is used at solution level (at approx 16:20 min). This plan can be made by a team of e.e. solution architects, Business architect of test engineers and looks for  successful completion at a solution level The focus of the System demo testplan is to test how the features work together rather than testing the individual features.

What I notice is that the testplan seems to be a collection of tests rather than a testplan that describes how the tests are organised. For me a testplan is often the later.  I guess we need both. I mis a mention on what should be a testplan to effectively align different parties and teams to collaborate on integration testing. But beside this omission, it is an interesting webinar, and I am glad more people start talking about embedding quality in scaled agile settings.


How to Incorporate Testing in a SAFe Development Process using Rational Quality Manager




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SIG on Quality in SAFe: Where should we put the quality responsibility?

Yesterday we had another of our Quality in SAFe meetings. The Special Interest Group is founded by TestNet and aims to define where quality and testing can be mounted into scaled agile organisations. Yesterday we had an interesting discussion on responsibilities. Where should we put the quality responsibility on team and release train level and how does this answer differ when moving from an informal to a highly regulated organisation. We discussed the roles of the productmanager and the RTE with respect to test management and QA. We talked about the function of the systems team and the CoE in providing guidelines and support.

If you are interested in joining these discussion. We meet regularly in regio Utrecht and love to hear your experience and ideas as well. Contact TestNet or Me (Derk-Jan).

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