We have lots of conversations with customers about how testing should work and when it should happen. Often, customers want to have an ‘in test’ state, or column on their boards. Agile coaches often cringe at this because agile approaches generally don’t prescribe a test ‘stage’ for features - the idea is that developers and testers should work together to do development and testing at the same time.

But a new pattern is cropping up on kanban boards, and I’m now comfortable saying that it’s ok to have a test column on your boards.

It just needs to be LEFT of the dev column.

Take a look at this team’s kanban board:

Rally Kanban Board

They work on testing before starting coding. Before a story leaves that column, they agree to:

  • check existing coverage around the story
  • have a conversation between dev and testers about the scenarios that matter and how they should be tested.
  • identify needed usage and performance gestures.

Many of our teams have created columns like this, because putting on the testing hat before the story even begins uncovers issues much faster (and at lower cost) than waiting until after the story has started.

Before items can leave the “Dev/Test” column, the team agrees that:

  • All acceptance criteria are met, or moved to another story.
  • Standard Definition of Done for stories has been met
  • Automated test, usage, and performance gestures have been implemented for all workflows
  • A walkthrough has been completed on a local machine with a tester on the team - someone sitting within 10 feet of the developer.

When are you doing your testing? If you implemented a test column before your dev column, would you deliver value faster?

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