bring in an experienced agile coach or hire experienced agile developers and/or testers to help overcome cultural and logistical barriers. The Scrum concept of a self-organizing team helps; the team can commit to delivering the best software possible, and then experiment with practices that help achieve that goal. However, managers must give the team plenty of time to learn, and provide training in skills that the team is lacking. For example, the team may need formal training in test-driven development and acceptance test-driven development.
Hold team retrospectives each iteration – make sure everyone on the new integrated team participates and feels safe to raise issues. If you’re new to retrospectives, consider bringing in an experienced facilitator to get started. Books such as Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby and Diana Larson, and Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas by Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising will give you ideas on how to run retrospectives and introduce changes..
Testing Community of Practice
Another source of support a tester has is her testing community within her organization. Rather than eliminating the QA Manager role and completely disbanding the QA team, we suggest that organizations create communities of practice. The QA or test manager, who previously managed the test team, becomes a practice manager, devoted to making sure testers get the support and training they need, and can get together to share testing innovations and experiences.
This practice leader can help testers find new tools to coordinate integration level testing and work to create viable test labs. He also provides a very important role supporting a tester’s learning efforts through training, encouraging inter-project interactions, and maybe even fuelling the testers’ passion.
An Example of Building Community
Janet has had really good success with test teams building their own communities focusing on learning and sharing. In one large team (40 testers, 4 QA managers and a director), the testers reported to the QA Managers for performance reviews, training, and support.The he day to day operational management of the testers, programmers and other development roles was accomplished within each team. Performance reviews were always done by the QA managers, with input from their project teams. The testers held weekly “lunch and learns”, team building exercises, and built a real sense of community.There really wasn't any friction between this 'community' and the project teams. They worked very closely together. If one tester wasn't working well on one team, the QA managers would work with the teams to solve the problems.
Resources for Building a Community of Practice (CoP)
When Lisa wanted to build a testing CoP in an organization with 25 Scrum teams, she looked around at other successful testing communities. One good example is the Weekend Testers ( www.weekendtesting.com), a group of testers who get together for two-hour weekend testing and discussion sessions using a group chat and online facilitator. Another inspiration is the Software Testing Club ( www.softwaretestingclub.com), an online community for software testers with a forum, a community magazine, and other resources. On-line user groups such as the email@example.com is a great place to ask questions or share ideas with other participants who are interested in agile testing.
Lisa took advantage of the company’s new Confluence wiki to set up a testing community space, with a forum, links to individual testers’ blogs, and a schedule of events. Testers and programmers volunteered to give hour-long demos and classes on testing and test automation at least once per month. These were well-attended, and the surprise was that many programmers attended as well.
When testers have that sense