Building an Effective Test Team for Distributed Agile

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agile practices and values. We need to identify and prioritize which are the areas to focus on first for the team. We may need to refactor the team. If there are team members in your team with negative attitude or having an attitude to resist changes, then proper guidance need to be given to them to bring in the change. If there are no improvements, it is a good idea to move them to a different project. Agile talks about "tossing off" the code at end of the day if it doesn't serve the purpose. This is applicable for team members also. Don't try to patch it up too much...

While recruiting new members to an agile testing team we need to ensure that they have the right set of attitudes and skills in line with the agile way of working. Openness, ready to give and accept feedback, simplicity, courage, adaptability, good in communication, right skill mix ...these are some of the attributes we need to ensure in a new hire. If you are planning to hire it is a good idea to have a brief discussion about agile practices you follow in your organization during the interview. Once they are hired we need to evangelize agile among them. In India agile has not become that popular. We may not get engineers who worked in agile earlier. Transforming an engineer who has been working in monumental methodologies to an agile environment is not that easy. It's a big paradigm shift. There may be resistance to change. We need to plan our inductions in such a way that the returns of Agile are communicated to the new hires appropriately. Once they understand the synergy it gives to customers and the organization employees will start believing in this new model. Once this milestone is covered it is easy to evangelize the other agile practices we follow in our organization.

Like the "pair programming" concept in Agile mentoring also can be done through pairing. A new hire is paired with a senior test engineer who is in the team for more than 1 year. A high level introduction about the product is given to the new hire. After that during test case design and test execution the new hire pair up with other team members according to the plan laid out by the Coach. The mentoring plans always focus on big mountain functionalities first.

When Group of people works together in internationally distributed locations, there is great need to communicate with each other, share data and share expensive resources. Building a good communication mechanism is very important for the success of agile testing. Conversation with developer, customer, and feature team leads and product manager is frequent. Daily Stand up meetings with the feature teams helps to build the relationships among the feature team. All the Agile feature team members including developers, test engineers, documentation experts, product managers assemble near a white board in the morning (usually on a planned fixed time like 10am) for a short stand up meeting of 5 to 10 minutes duration. Plan for the day and top priority issues from the previous days work is communicated to the feature team. This meeting is not for resolving the issues or detailed discussion. Resolutions are taken later after the meeting. If we are working in a distributed model where the development is happening in US and the testing is in India or some part of the feature team is in a remote location like India and China, Communication and the feedback loop get badly affected. Tailored agile for these kinds of

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