VanQ Meetup: The Telus Story of Transition to Agile

images-3 VanQ Meetup: The Telus Story of Transition to Agile

VanQ recently came together to hear Telus’ Hugo Sampaio talk about the transformation the company went through while transitioning from the classic waterfall to the agile method of testing and development.

Some Key Takeaways

Agile means different things to different people, and because of this lack of structured definition, it is difficult to implement. Often companies adopt a few agile characteristics to their basic waterfall model and convince themselves that they have gone agile. When large organizations decide to adopt agile as their development philosophy, the first thing they need to do is choose a metric that will define their agile development. The metric Telus chose, and recommends, is velocity. For a large organization, especially, velocity ends up being an important metric since it has to battle a lot of inflexibility and inertia from within the organization. The other important metric is quality, because you cannot have fast development that isn’t up to par with industry standards. You have to consider business interactions and portfolio management as markers for progress.

Top Impediments Against Agile

There can be a lot of inertia in a large organization revolving around the transition to agile. Typically, one of the main roadblocks is pre-existing company culture. A large organization is reluctant towards change, and when the change is as massive as completely restructuring the development philosophy, there is bound to be a bit of friction. The other impediments include lack of tools and funding, technical debt, and lack of competition in the marketplace. Adding to this is the trouble of training or hiring new resources and personnel. All these factors contribute to a reluctance towards transition to agile.

Where to employ agile

Telus made a clear distinction between areas, breaking them down by different degrees of agile methodology to be applied. The standalone areas are the ones where the transition is not only beneficial, but a natural consequence of adopting agile. These are completely new areas of development within the organization. The ‘integrated but new’ areas are those that you’ll commonly notice a little more of that opposition to agile, but are still top contenders for transition. The ‘old, integrated but recent technology’ takes a bit more effort for agile transition. For a large organization, a reachable goal would be approximately 80% transition to agile in two years. Hugo advises not to even touch the so-called ‘legacy’ areas of an organization.

Things to consider


The most important thing to consider is that there is no perfect tool. An ideal deployment involves multiple tools that the organization feels comfortable with using simultaneously. Make sure a development manager tool is used to oversee the procedures.


In the case of Telus, agile deployment was delegated to one test architect who worked as an overall project manager and liaison between various teams. They kept a 15-85 ratio between onshore and offshore personnel, with a near shore team stationed in mexico.


Again, the ultimate metric for progress was velocity. Adopting agile for functional testing is a comparatively trivial matter that involves defining test cases and automation. As opposed to that, agile development strategy, performance and structural testing requires a more creative approach towards service virtualization.

The Process

The approach towards agile at Telus involved scrum teams working on unit testing which was then consolidated to systems testing where the user stories were considered. The next step was system integration testing where the feature/application was involved and finally during performance/integration testing, end to end business transitions were completed. The marker for the next step was 80% code completion.


Hugo gave us some valuable pieces of advice for companies looking to transition to agile:

  • Be selective about applications

  • Set strong standards for tools and processes

  • Automate as much as you can.

  • You will still have to integrate waterfall somewhere.

  • Focus on performance testing rather than functional testing.

  • No process is perfect. Learn, try continuously.

Get in touch with OptimusQA to know more about transition to agile. For large industries, agile transition can be a cumbersome process if done inefficiently. With OptimusQA you can get the right help to make your transition a success.