In gesprek met Rachel Davies

Rachel Davies is de auteur van het eerste boek over Agile Coaching en is een veelgevraagd spreker op software conferenties over de heel wereld. Ze begon haar loopbaan als ontwikkelaar en werd gegrepen door het debugging van software. Haar missie is om werkplekken te creëren waar ontwikkelaars het leuk vinden om waardevolle software op te leveren. Rachel is al sinds 2000 betrokken bij Agile en experimenteerde met technieken die nu overal ter wereld gebruikt worden. Ze werkt op dit moment bij Unruly, één van de grootste sociale marketing video platformen, die ook de  “Extreme Programmers London meetup”  organiseert. Als zijnde één van de mediapartner van de Agile Testing Days Netherlands kreeg TestNieuws de gelegenheid om haar een aantal vragen te stellen.


Rachel Davies is author of the first Agile Coaching book and an invited speaker to software conferences worldwide. Rachel started out working as a software developer and became fascinated with debugging software organizations. Her mission is to create workplaces where developers enjoy delivering valuable software.She’s been working in the field of Agile software development since 2000 and pioneered techniques that are now used by teams all around the globe. Rachel currently works at Unruly, the leading global platform for social video marketing and is the organiser of Extreme Programmers London meetup. As being media partner of the Agile Testing Day Netherlands TestNieuws had the change to interview her.

1. Hi Rachel, can you introduce yourself?
I work as Agile Coach at Unruly in London. I have been coaching agile teams since 2003 and am co-author of first book on “Agile Coaching”.

2. Can you describe your career? Which roles did you had during the years?
I started out as a software developer in the 80s working in embedded real-time systems. In 90s I worked at a large telco, I tried roles such as systems designer and development manager but I became fed up with large projects being cancelled. When I heard about XP in 2000, I switched to a web developer role so I could try it.

3. On Thursday the 19th of March you will be one the keynote speaker during the Agile Testing Day Netherland 2015. Can you tell us what the subject of that presentation will be and why?
Check out the talk description on the ATD website! I hope that you get some inspiration to challenge common industry practice and become more agile in how your team delivers software.

4. You wrote the book “Agile Coaching” as being an Agile Coach yourself. Can you explain what an Agile Coach does all day?
Well everyday is different. My day starts with standup meetings and catching up with team leads. I have individual coaching sessions with everyone in our department – these sessions are spread out over the month so typically there are a couple of these every day. Coaching sessions are a chance for everyone to discuss current frustrations and ideas for change. I help the teams work out how to improve their current practices and also sit in on discussions around upcoming features that we are researching or implementing.

5. Can you share your thought with us on how a (traditional) tester can find their place in agile teams?
I’d encourage testers to get involved with conversations with business users about what features might be valuable to develop next. Instead of spending time catching defects I think testers are most useful in helping teams anticipate and avoid creating poor quality software. It can be really helpful for Testers to help their team think through scenarios where the software being developed might not work before implementation. I recommend testers to sit with their team and participate in as many team activities as they can. In retrospectives, testers can be really good at helping their team spot root causes of problems.

6. And where do Test Managers and Test Coordinators fit in? Are those roles still necessary?
In Agile software development testing is an activity that is done continuously and all team members have a shared responsibility towards ensuring that testing is done.

7. In Agile all team members are called Developers. Don’t you think that is a bit disrespectful towards testers, who fought for years to give the role tester some real meaning.
Really? Agile does not mandate that approach and it sounds quite odd to me. Working in a team does not require a job title change.

8. I read your blog “No Sprint Demo Needed”. With Continuous Deployment specific user can test the new features in production, please correct me when I a read it wrong. But how do you know you built what the user want and how do you deal with bugs?
Our teams talk to users before building features and while they are being developed. We listen to their ideas and feedback. However, we are building products not custom solutions so some users may have to live with compromise. If the software is not working properly we fix it straight away.

9. Final question. If there is yet something you want to share about Agile, Testing, yourself or any other subject, this is your chance.
I hope that you can wait until the keynote for that!

Thank you Rachel for this interview.