In November and December 2016 I followed a training to prepare myself for the Certified Agile Tester (CAT) exam from iSQI. My motivation to take the training and taking the exam is to improve my testing work in agile teams so I can add more value. What sets this training (and the exam) apart from other courses is the strong emphasis on practical experience with testing in agile teams. In this post I want to show you what this training has taught me and what it means for my daily work.

Three key skills that made up the largest part of my CAT training are:

  1. Keep asking questions to clarify what is meant/expected/wanted
  2. Share status, progress, blocking issues with your team
  3. Time-box your activities

Next to those key practical skills there is also a good amount of theoretical information focused on agile, scrum, agile testing and software development methodologies.

Good news halfway through January, I passed the exam, hooray!

Now, what does this mean for my everyday work? What happens when I take some of the CAT theory and best practices and apply it to my daily activities? Let’s split this down into the 3 key skills I mentioned above

Asking more questions

This really does not come as easily as you would think. The value it has brought so far is incredible. Even asking the most obvious questions , to the point you feel stupid for even asking, brings an incredible amount of value. I often find this is an easy way to uncover missing or wrong requirements.

Share status and progress with the team

When testing takes place, often just before a release, it is considered a major inconvenience and it should be finished as soon as possible. Rather sooner than later. By constantly sharing updates on testing and involving team members, you help create a so-called quality-infected team.

Time-boxing your activities

This adds so much value on a daily basis. Time-boxing the creation of test cases, writing emails, writing user stories. Don’t always try to get it 100% right. The 80/20 rule is important here.

Conclusion

Studying the theory was mostly a good refresher on  the theory of agile for me. The biggest gain is in the practical skills that are important. Speak up, share info, ask questions, listen, understand the business, time-box when it’s valuable. Keep putting effort into these skills as much as you can. Extend it into your personal life. Just do it!