The CAT experience
March 7, 2014
As a software tester within an agile environment I ascertained that it is not enough to reduce the project timeframes, discard the documentation and change the requirements document name for a project to be true agile. In order for an agile project to work well it requires a fundamentally different mind-set from everyone involved.
I recently took the Certified Agile tester and got the certificate after sitting the exam. The course spans over 5 days, four days of training and a written and practical exam on the fifth day.
Through minimal theory and lots of practical exercises the CAT course gives a comprehensive introduction to Agile Methodology, Manifesto, comparison with traditional methods, its advantages, related ceremonies and relevance of traditional roles in Agile. It covers everything in nice depth and breadth. Course days consist of half day of theory going through the course material and the second half on each day is a practical exercise. It’s the practical sessions that stood out for me.
The exam consists of practical and written exam. For practical exams, you are the tester, the team and the customer. You have to take builds, do Iteration Planning, prepare session charts, do the testing and Retrospective…. pretty much everything done in SCRUM. It is followed by a subjective theory exam…yes, it’s not multiple choices. I would not say it’s very difficult, provided you kept your ears open during the training sessions and went through the course material every day (which is a huge task seriously!!). It was a ‘challenging 5 day’ experience of questioning ourselves if we were actually doing agile and scrum correctly. People were asking questions about things that happen in their workplace and how they could fix or redo it in a more agile way.I was excited, as I felt like we at Unboxed were doing Agile correctly.
In Pearson there were times when we jumped from Scrum to Kanban. It’s all about being agile and what suits you better to reach you goal effectively. Whatever suits us better as long as we are Agile and we can deliver continuously and successfully! What I learnt from the whole experience is that Agile itself is ‘flexibility’ there is no use or making rock hard rules and saying this is how things should work. There are priorities but never overlook anything! I think none of the other Testing qualifications make you do TESTING. It’s just about mugging up some theoretical Testing Principles (which might not be relevant in real life!!) and sputter them out in the examination hall. Ironically, people who have minimal testing experience have been able to score more than people with years of practical exposure to testing. Working with the flow and adapting to what will work better for us is true agile and this comes out of experience and correct guidance from efficient Agile coaches rather than trying to learn them all up theoretically in 4 days just to call yourself an Agile Certified tester!
I can proudly call myself a CAT only when I can handle everything around me in an agile way and get myself along with my team to the other side of the tunnel with a valuable and efficient product and make our clients happy and not because I passed an exam.
As organisations choose agile methods over more regimented testing procedures, demand is increasing for testers who can certify their agile skills. I am not saying CAT is the best course out there, but definitely I do not regret doing it.