Provide and Obtain Feedback - Success Factor #4

August 30, 2023     Janet Gregory, Lisa Crispin
collaboration, success factors     Collaboration, Visualization

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This month, we’re continuing our exploration of the seven success factors with #4 – Provide and obtain feedback.

Our 2009 Agile Testing book includes a sidebar by Bret Pettichord about the importance of feedback. He summarized: “Agile practices build a technical and organizational infrastructure to facilitate getting and acting on feedback.” Testing is all about feedback and testers excel at providing feedback.


Giving feedback starts from the first time an idea is presented, by asking questions and getting clarifying answers, maybe asking more questions. It continues as you work though examples or create tests and collaborate within your team. Even talking about bugs, or potential bugs are forms of feedback. These mechanisms have been available for as long as we’ve been testing.



In 2023, we have many additional feedback tools in our toolbox. Thanks to affordable cloud storage and new technology, we have lots of ways to safely test in production and get feedback about what customers are experiencing as it happens. This enables successful continuous delivery and deployment. Chapter 8 in Agile Testing Condensed, gives an overview of how testing fits into DevOps culture and practices.


One team Lisa worked with helped develop a new feature that everyone thought would be extremely valuable to customers. The designers prototyped a UI page for it and got feedback from some existing and potential customers. It involved complex functionality, so even building and testing the “learning release”, or minimum viable product version of it, was time-consuming. The new page was used internally, and everyone in the company thought it would delight the customers.


Once the new UI page was in production, the team used a user experience monitoring tool to watch how people used it. They were dismayed to learn that the few users who navigated to the new page spent very little time on the page, clicked a couple of fields, and quickly navigated away. Within a week of releasing the new page, the team realized it needed either to get a major overhaul or be abandoned. That is one way to get quick and valuable feedback from actual users, not internal users whose biases might get in the way.


The best way we’ve found to give feedback effectively is to make it as visible as possible. We can test feature ideas with paper prototypes. Automated test results can be sent to a team Slack channel. Debrief your exploratory test sessions by walking through your notes with another person. Lisa’s team could watch the journeys customers took through the UI. Monitoring and observability dashboards let you see production problems with a glance.


We’ll leave you with this final thought and would love to hear your responses. Drop us an email, tell us in Linked In or if you belong to the Agile Testing Fellowship, tell us in the Slack channel. What feedback loops do you have in your team and organization?