NEW YORK — The rise of agile has dramatically changed not only the speed with which organizations are delivering software, but also the roles of the people who are developing that software. There used to be a distinct line between a developer and tester, but with agile, that line has blurred. In agile, developers are no longer responsible for just delivering code, they are also responsible for things like quality and testing. So, what does the role of a tester mean in an agile world? That is a question that Mike McLaughlin, agile coach at VersionOne, tried to answer at the company’s Agilepalooza event in New York City.

“The first thing I tell testers is: Your role has never been more important than it is now in this new agile word,” he said.

Stepping into the agile world can be frightening for testers. To survive in agile, a professional tester must embrace change, collaborate, explore, empathize, have drive, have the right attitude, and see the big picture, according to McLaughlin.

There is a fear of being made functionally redundant, he said, because everyone is a tester on an agile team and everyone on the team can potentially test. While that may be true, that doesn’t devalue the role of testers.

(Related: Agile is a team game)

“Their skills are unique and critical to the success of an agile team or project,” said McLaughlin. “We recognize change is hard, but none of these fears testers have are really justified.”

Developers are going to approach testing differently, he explained, because they are optimistic about the code they wrote and they assume changes are correct. A professional tester approaches problems and products with an attitude that it is broken; it is their job to find the bugs and find the defects.

“You are still doing a lot of the same things, but you are doing it more collaboratively, and that is a big shift in the way that we’ve been working before,” said McLaughlin.

About Christina Mulligan

Christina is the Online & Social Media Editor of SD Times. She is a 2012 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism and a concentration in public affairs. She has interned at WNET Metrofocus, WABC Eyewitness News and Newsday.