Friday, June 13, 2008

Better Software

I attended Better Software this week. Each time I go to a conference such as this, I am pleasantly surprised that more and more people are on agile teams and have a good understanding of agile principles, values and practices. There are also plenty of people wanting to learn about agile.

In my class on "Ten Principles of an Agile Tester", a QA manager described an interesting problem (to which I had no ready answer!) The programmers in her company have decided to implement agile, but they think they can do it all by themselves, in isolation. They feel they don't need the testers, analysts and all the other groups to go along. From what I understood, the programmers felt they could still just hand off the code to the QA group when they were finished, and they apparently believed they could communicate with the customers directly and get the requirements.

The QA manager is understandably frustrated with this situation. She has tried repeatedly to sit down with the programmers and figure out how the testers can work with them, and show them how the testers can add value. They aren't cooperating.

What to do? I was once in a situation where I joined a team that had never had testers, only developers, although they did have BAs. They wouldn't let me join the daily standup, they wouldn't include test estimates in story estimates or in iteration planning, and they declared stories "done" before they were tested. I argued that I should be a part of the team, to no avail. After we missed the release date because the testing wasn't finished, I asked the coach if we could try things my way, and work together all as one team, everyone taking responsibility for testing, not considering stories done until they were tested. He agreed to try it for the next release cycle. We released on time and the customers were happy. So there was no more debate.

In my experience, sometimes people have to feel the pain before they'll change. I know for sure that evangelizing doesn't work. (Blogging feels a bit like evangelizing which is one reason I never did it before).

I'm interested in your comments, if you've ever had a situation like this, what did you do?

BTW, a couple of posts back I mentioned that we were tracking our refactoring tasks in our DTS, in our online story board tool, and in our Wiki. We have decided to try tracking them only in the online story board tool, as task cards, and add some fields so we can find them easily and include all the information needed before and after doing the task. We'll see how it works! Experimenting is good.

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