Cost/Value vs Building/Researching

Testing activities can be framed into four quadrants that represent different value and goals of that activity in an agile context. These are testing focussed on keeping customer value high versus keeping business costs low (for example, keeping team velocity high) and testing focused on building software that the project wants versus researching software to see how the project might not have got want it wanted. Agile testing is then an iterative process going around the four quadrants in a constant loop (Marick, 2003) (Crispin & Gregory, 2008) (Bach & Bolton, 2015):

High customer value

Building the software we want

Are we building a valuable product?
Idea testing
Artefact Testing
Requirements testing
Design testing
Stakeholder questioning
Validation checking
Early feedback
Advocating risk
Are we finding all problems that threaten the value of the product?
Exploratory testing
Risk-based testing
Alpha testing
Beta testing
Production testing
Inductive Testing

Researching the software we got

Are we finding build issues quickly and easily?
Machine/automation checks
Unit and integration checks
Code reviews
Implementation testing
Verification checking
Advocating testability
Deductive testing
Are we finding problems as efficiently as possible?
Test planning
Test design
Test logistics
Training and personal development
Test tooling

Low business costs
(High team velocity)


  • Bach, J. and Bolton, M., 2015. The REAL Agile Testing Quadrants (as we believe they should always have been). [online] Satisfice Inc./DevelopSense. Available at: Link
  • Crispin, L. and Gregory, J., 2008. Agile Testing. 1st ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Addison-Wesley, p.98.
  • Marick, B., 2003. My Agile testing project [online] Exploration Through Example. Available at: Link

2020-08-‎31: Ported and updated

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