Home > Articles > Programming

My Life in Tech: Q&A for Software Tester and Agile Coach Janet Gregory

Software tester and agile coach Janet Gregory answers our questions about transitioning traditional test teams into the agile world, misconceptions about agile testing, and why some agile projects fail.
Like this article? We recommend

InformIT: How did you become interested in agile testing and coaching?

Janet Gregory: My first introduction to agile was as QA Manager for a company that wanted to start practicing XP (eXtreme programming). We were quite successful with the testers and programmers working closely together. After that job, I decided to go out on my own, and joined another XP team as a tester. I wanted to learn more, so I contacted Lisa Crispin who was writing a book about “Testing XP” at that time. She was so willing to share all she knew. After that, she and I became friends, co-presenting and sharing what we learned. I started working with teams helping them transition to agile and passed on what I knew to them. Coaching seemed to be a good fit for me and my personality. It seemed to be a natural progression but involved a lot of learning along the way for me.

InformIT: You co-wrote Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams with Lisa Crispin. If you could give testers (or developers) one piece of advice from the book, what would it be?

Janet: I’m not sure this is in the book, but I would tell testers to be curious and open to all experiences. This may challenge some of their current beliefs, but I think it is absolutely necessary so they can get the benefits of being a tester on an agile team. To the developers, the one piece of advice I would give is to be ready to collaborate and take advantage of the knowledge from all team members.

InformIT: What is the most challenging aspect of transitioning traditional test teams into the agile world?

Janet: Transitioning to agile is a cultural shift, and not all organizations (or people) are willing to make that shift.

InformIT: You wrote in your blog that many software teams are good at creating software, but many of those same teams still struggle with creating the right value. Can you explain what you mean by that?

Janet: Writing good software is a development process, and many teams do it well—using agile or traditional methods. However, unless teams understand the business problem, and work closely, they can create perfect software that the customer won’t use. When I mentioned cultural shifts, this is one of them. Having a customer representative working closely with the team so together they can create software that solves the business problem.

InformIT: What is the biggest misconception about agile testing?

Janet: One of the biggest misconceptions that I see is that “It’s all about testing the stories.” There is so much more—a good agile tester is part business analyst, an excellent collaborator, a great exploratory tester, has a good grasp of automation, understands the domain, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound….  Well, maybe not that the last part. They need to understand the big picture, how the stories are part of a business feature, or how it fits into the system as a whole.

InformIT: In your experience, what is the most common reason that some agile projects either fail or are not as successful as intended?

Janet: There are many reasons, but one I see the most is that stories are either too big and not well understood or created in a manner that suits the programmers – ex. Do all the configuration, or Code the GUI. Either way, the stories are not testable. This means the integration and testing is left until the end of an iteration or the next iteration, which is too late to give timely feedback. Defects are logged and may or may not get fixed later, which affects product quality. When testable stories are created with the whole team in mind, everyone can work at a sustainable pace and get the stories to "Done".

InformIT: What is your favorite part of being an agile tester?

Janet: That is an easy question. It is being an equal part of a productive team.

InformIT: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in your career?

Janet: Mostly there have been many small challenges, but I think starting was the hardest. Going to university as a mature student with two children still in school and both in competitive sports, meant giving up any kind of social life for four years. I spent many hours reading and doing homework in the swimming pool stands and in the gym club. It was hard to compete with many of the young students whose life was university. I was lucky I had a great support.

InformIT: What has been the most unexpected thing that has happened to you career-wise?

Janet: I have to say that I never expected to write a book. It was not in my career path, but when I was given the opportunity to write with Lisa, I couldn’t resist.

InformIT: Who or what has inspired you to get where you are today?

Janet: There are so many people along the way who inspired in small ways. However, I would have to say that Mary Poppendieck is one of my greatest inspirations. She showed me that is possible to do everything I love to do—travel, teach, coach—and that I don’t have to do it alone. Today, my husband travels with me to most of my opportunities, and we are able to share in the wonders of the world together.

InformIT: What kind of advice do you have for those who are following in your footsteps?

Janet: Simply, don’t be afraid to embrace opportunities that present themselves, even if it is out of your comfort zone.

InformIT: If computers had never been invented, what would you be doing today instead?

Janet: It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without computers. When I decided to go back to university, I narrowed my options to either Home Economics or Computer Science. I’m guessing if computers didn’t exist, I’d be teaching Home Economics, or perhaps own a sewing shop. Although at one time, I dabbled in graphic art at a local newspaper, so maybe I would have done that.

InformIT: What do you do for fun?

Janet: Right now my hobby is painting miniature houses for my Christmas village. It has grown quite large over the years. But for fun, one of my favorite things is to go camping in the summer, especially when my whole family joins us, including my grandchildren. I love to dance, but don’t get the opportunity to do that much anymore.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020