This is what an Agile Quality Coach does

People are excused if they have a look of uncertainty when they hear me talk about Agile Quality Coach. Even though, as far as I am concerned, it is quite unnecessary. We are increasingly working in teams with Agile characteristics.

We put a lot of effort in helping this kind of teams to improve their performance. We do this with scrum masters who coach the team or with agile coaches who help the teams mature. But there is still a lot to improve in terms of quality. So, do you think it is strange that an Agile Quality Coach exists?>

A lot can still be achieved in terms of quality.

Organizations are still worried about production disruptions. The level of automation within testing is increasing, which is something we do well. Agile Quality CoachingBut more and more the question arises whether we are automating the right tests. After all, successful automation of mediocre testing is not what we aspire to, do we? And those automated tests, aren't they actually the standard checks? What about the intelligence to investigate weaknesses in the software - also called the real testing - do we actually do that (sufficiently)? So, there is still a lot to achieve in terms of quality. But often we still do not deal with that properly. What are the causes of that? I will give you a few reasons:

  • We make choices for which we cannot predict the consequences properly: developers also need to test and therefore we do not need the testers any longer. Fortunately, these choices are made less often in such a drastic manner. Naturally developers also need to do test, that makes total sense. Just like in football, attackers also have to defend. But have you ever seen a team without defenders? You didn't, right? And yes, defenders with offensive qualities are high valued players. However, we do train especially on offensive and defensive qualities.
    If you do not have the real test expertise in your team, it is not surprising that this will have consequences...
  • Unconsciously incompetent teams.
    In other words, "you only see it when you realize it". Oh yes, you can also hear me say that everyone can test. But I will immediately add to that, that proper testing simply cannot be done by anyone. As with many expertise's, testing is a profession. And as long as you don’t master that, it is difficult to see the difference between testing and proper testing. Which explains why many teams are still unconsciously incompetent.
  • We deploy a coach, but that does not solve everything.
    We are really making progress with working in Agile teams, with self-organizing teams and with professionals who are learning from each other's expertise. Scrum masters and coaches play a major role in that progress. What I can often see though is that teams have difficulties with quality and testing. And scrum masters and agile coaches do not really help them with that. Which is not really surprising if they do not possess that expertise. The question then naturally follows, why did you look for a scrum master or agile coach and what will you do when that role is not yet filled.

Find the right coach, use the Agile Coaching Competency Framework.

In conversations to determine the challenges and coaching needs of teams, I often use this framework.

Agile Quality Coaching - graphic

We often start talking about the necessary domain expertise which can help the team. And while we talk about issues with quality and testing, we look at the profile component Technical Mastery where quality and testing are located. The website of the Agile Coaching Institute provides sources for the knowledge and skills for all components of the profile for coaches. I do not state that a coach must be an expert in all areas. For me, the value lies in explicitly naming the desired expertise and recognizing and acknowledging that expertise in the person concerned.

For me, the Agile Coaching Competency Framework is a great tool to clarify the need for coaching. And if you also mention quality and testing in that need, nobody will think it strange when you talk about an Agile Quality Coach.

This blog is written by Tinus Vellekoop. Tinus is practice manager Agile Quality Consulting within Digital Assurance & Testing in The Netherlands.