A Journey into Agile - Scrum Implementation at a Mature Organization - Part 1

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of the organization.

2. During the planning sessions the testers push the product owner and developers to achieve testability of the acceptance criteria .

3. During the sprint, testers focus on translating the acceptance criteria into test cases, maintaining the test database, implementing test cases in a test automation tool and maintaining the defect system and statistics.

4. Defect statistics are kept only for issues found outside of the sprint cycle. In other words, if an issue is introduced, found and resolved within the sprint, it does not count as a defect. This encourages the team to produce high-quality deliverables each sprint and creates a standardized quality metrics.

5. The tester pushes the product owner to include defect resolution as stories in the project backlog and to prioritize them to prevent them from degrading quality in the long run.

6. Because they are generally more familiar with the deployment and commercialization, tasks testers help the team prepare for these activities by adding pertinent stories into the backlog.

 The special role of the tester in team interactions is highlighted in the diagram below.{C}

 

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A point of continued discussion has been the role of test automation. Our coach helped us focus on a common-sense, Agile-inspired approach. Instead of looking at automation for automation's sake, he recommended letting the value chain pull us into a position that demanded we tackle automation or risk losing productivity. To get to this point we would first make sure stories had good quality acceptance criteria and test cases. Then we would stipulate that all test cases should be run manually at the end of every sprint. Naturally, this set of regression tests would grow with each sprint, taking up more and more of the group's time. When this overhead became impractical to maintain the group was compelled to look at test automation.

Finishing the Race
The sprint ends with a review and retrospective. During the story review the product owner walks through each story and demonstrates that the acceptance criteria have been met. Deviations, if any, are highlighted and if any issues are noticed they are written down as defects. If the product owner is satisfied with the demonstration, the story is officially done.

The retrospective is the time when the development team takes a critical look at the sprint to find opportunities for improvement. The product owner and external stakeholders are usually not present. Various meeting techniques are used to elicit comments and arrive at a collective consensus on areas of improvement, which become the focus for action-item proposals to take on during the next sprint.

The Road Ahead
With coaching assistance the team has made remarkable advances in a number of areas. Individuals are generally comfortable with the fundamentals. There is rhythm and efficiency in their daily work and a foundation is laid for achieving consistent quality. Individual participation and ownership has risen dramatically. Results have been very encouraging, based on initial feedback from end-customers and recognition within the organization. While still on the learning curve, the team is confident the Scrum methodology will deliver the improvements the organization was aiming to achieve.


About the Author

Juan Alvarado is a principal software engineer at Schlumberger Information Solutions. He received BS and MS degrees in Information and Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of technology, and has 20 years of experience in the areas of software engineering and management of small software development teams. For the past several years he has been leading small teams in rapid development of internal projects. Since early 2007 he has been involved in the introduction of Scrum as

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