Posted in agile, conferences, team, Uncategorized

Test team will help you out

Test Team

Hi Boys and Girls,

Being close to the test community at Test Warez Conference, on which I am at the moment, made me think about my team and how do we do things at New Voice Media.
I believe it is worth to spread and inspire you to introduce good practices into your test / scrum teams.

Next week I’ll provide you with wider summary of Test Warez – today I want to focus on one aspect that came to my mind yesterday during the discussion panel run by
Łukasz Pietrucha about planning your tests.

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We’ve started with lightweight talk about ISTQB’ish approach to formal documentation and planning across organisations but end up with vivid discussion and sharing good practices and personal project-related experiences (not necessarily related to panel’s subject 🙂 ). It made me think that planning your tests and organising testing in your organisations, in general, is extremely context-related. You might think that one, structured, recommended by ISTQB idea should work, but sometimes, to be honest, it is just useless.

I went back to my roots as a software tester.

One of my very first sources of knowledge about software testing in general was Polish blog.testowka.pl . It is technical, teaches you how to start with Selenium and gives updates about software testing in general – very thought through source of knowledge (For some reason I was convinced that it is run by a girl…. but never mind, just leave it 🙂 – sorry Wiktor! ).
Wiktor Żołnowski – the author – wrote a few words about himself on that blog. However, I’ve read it just a week or two ago. Wiktor wrote ‘It was ‘Agile’ – people and interactions over processes and tools. Then I’ve acknowledged that all things which I knew about testing ans so-called quality processes promoted by different organisations, had little value. Software can be crafted just better.‘ – and I consider it as a quote close to my heart. I still keep thinking about it, that’s why I decided to write today’s post.
Now, at New Voice Media, I can tell the same thing. There was always a missing part in my teams / projects/ organisations, even with their structured processes and diverse working environments, and I don’t speak about faking the agile style of work only – what I mean is – craftsmanship and team spirit (what a cliche).
It suites me better – it may not suit you at all, so don’t feel offended, Dear Reader 🙂

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As some of you probably know, at New Voice Media we – the DevOps team – work  in Scrum or Scrumban. This is the first time, where I an able to see theory in practice and it works good for the organisation. We have testers and developers in our team, but we try to widen our responsibilities to enable all team members to learn and improve their skills.

Apart from separated feature teams – we also try to gather in community of interests, Sound ‘Spotify’ish’ 🙂 Maybe. On the other hand, it helps. We try to share knowledge across teams and locations (some of us work in Poland and some in the UK) to avoid silos of knowledge

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– it means we meet, talk and help one another out. It also means, that when somebody gets sick, has some emergency or has too many tasks to do at once – other testers may (and will!) help. We use different communication tools, chatters, video conferences, Wiki spaces and so on, but first of all – WE WANT to share and WE WANT to learn. It is not the organisation, who makes us do it – it’s us who do it, because it just helps.

I am not sure if that would be an approach for entire corporation – but for small departments – maybe? Would it work in a software house? I don’t know – but at leas you may try it. I know at leas one software house, that has it’s own community of interests and it works great for them. 😉 When you feel the energy and willingness to do something – you can definitely progress at things.

You cannot build (good) your software alone these days, so it is good to have a team which would help you out. Just in case 🙂

As always, you can comment down below or stalk me on Twitter.

Cheers!

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Posted in agile, scrum

Retrospective – it matters the most

Is it me only, who thinks that this blog becomes more and more Agile than testing? 🙂

Anyway.

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The other day I was trying to describe myself in front of big audience – and I thought that the best sentence would be : a software tester, who fell in love with … agile methodology! 🙂 A friend of mine asked me if I am more a tester or more an Agile creature. As everyone is Agile now – I’d rather  stay with tester’s mindset but Agile way of work. Does it make sense?

Speaking of which – what is the most important meeting for you (if you work in Scrum, of course)?

For me, when thinking about Agile, the most important and valuable meeting that comes to my mind is RETROSPECTIVE. You may agree or not, stating who we are without daily? BUT in my opinion, a retrospective meeting is unique portion of time, when the whole team sits together and tries to improve.

Team as a choir

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Let’s imagine that a Scrum team is a choir.

It has to practice, sing and perform together, exchange ideas, spend a lot of time with one another. They do work.
On the other hand, each of choir members practices alone. Each of them knows his notes by heart and can perfectly sing solo parts, but at the end of the day – they have to perform in front of the audience. The performance of a choir is not a bunch of gathered solo parts – it has to sound as one! All voices complement each other and act like human orchestra. Can you imagine your team acting as one organism?

When thinking about this kind of approach – it may become obvious that scrum team has to seat together and have a common goal. For me, a retrospective meeting is that period of time, when a choir meets, has a rehearsal, spends time to improve and acts together.
I do believe that as  voice rehearsals are the most important times of choir work – as daily meetings and retrospectives have the same roles in scrum team lives.
It is all about acting together in order to improve.

The need for ritual

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In one of my favorite books about retrospective meetings – Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (you can find it on Safari or Amazon) – retro meeting stretches across the whole sprint.
It is not just a meeting, of which everyone would not remember the next day. It lasts. The need for ritual is essential in preparation, conducting and improving. It is always about those three factors. That’s why everyone is welcome to come with his own opinion, problems and successes to the meeting. It is not supposed to be a one-man-show but a choir performance (or just a rehearsal 😉 Everyone is involved!

Leave your negative energy behind

How to act as a choir during retro? How many retrospective meetings, on which one person was a dominant do you have behind you?
Most of us have plenty of negative experiences connected with retrospective meetings (especially in Poland, when everyone is more tend to complain that to cheer up 😉 – please watch this YouTube video by Mark Walters to acknowledge what does the Polish Face mean 🙂 ). BUT complaining should not hijack the retro spirit !!!

Negative packaging is the first things the listeners see. Complain energy is tricky to handle. That’s why each of you should come to the meeting with your own mind. That’s why scrum masters use “stupid” games, “ridiculous” colorful sticky-notes and act (sometimes) like children :). Simply, in order to avoid a situation when only one person, one point of view and one problem matters. Everyone should be influential and benefit from the meeting.

A developer

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A development team consists of… DEVELOPERS! Brilliant, isn’t it? And as we all know – developers are the most open, cheerful and ready-to-speak up people in the whole universe!
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So… sorry, Scrum Maters, Product Owners and all business-related people – it is not an easy task for you to make them speak during  retrospective meeting:)
How can you encourage a technical person to do so?

Honor the heroes!

Bring sweets!

Hear success stories!

Don’t push!

Capture and analyze metrics  (technical people feel more comfortable with numbers)

Bring more sweets!

Always look on the bright side of life

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Exactly. Speaking, complaining and honoring mean nothing if you don’t benefit from it. Sooooooooooooo – get it done!

Collect ideas in order to improve. As a choir during rehearsals:

practice, improve, repeat

Summarize your thoughts in an email, wiki or any other source of common project knowledge. Make your ideas and improvements visible.

Buy yourself a whiteboard, prepare a virtual Jira board. Do at least one thing to emphasize your conclusions, enable each team member to have an access to it.
The more you know – the more you are able to improve.
And remember – your conclusions from Reareo No1 might be a great beginning of Retro No2 and so on. It is a circle and a teamwork.

Good luck! May the retro-force be with you.

In case of any ideas – don’t hesitate to stalk me on Twitter or comment down below. Cheers!

 

 

Posted in agile, conferences, scrum

How to become Jedi Master

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Lady Vader strikes again

My previous post was about Quality Excites conference in Gliwice. This time I would like to say something more about vivid conversation that took place during my discussion panel.

I had a chance to meet wonderful people and share inspiring ideas. It was an unique opportunity to hear about personal experiences and best practices worth to share.
As I wrote many times before:

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How to become Jedi Master?

I do believe that every software tester is a kind of Jedi Knight. He fights for quality and the Quality is his light saber.
Who is a Jedi Master though? A person, who understands agility, quality and has a need for working together.

My best example of Jedi Master, who should lead all Jedi Testers, is Master Yoda. The same one, who talks about Agile:

“You must unlearn what you have learned”

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Going further, I’ve asked people 3 – in my opinion important – questions about cooperation in an Agile team:

  1. How to communicate?
  2. How to introduce new people?
  3. How to share knowledge?

How to communicate

Nowadays, it is in job advertisements, small and large companies, everyone works in Agile.

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When scrum team sits together – it is a perfect situation.

My concern was if a spread team (team located in several cities or countries) is still an Agile one.

I – Kinga Witko – claimed that spread team is not a real scrum team.

No one agreed with me 😦 Fine. (Misa no wise)

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On the other hand, I need to underline here the one and only truth, that emerged as a discussion result:
Spread Agile team MUST use CAMERAS. And talk. Talk. Talk. All the time.

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This is the fact, which everyone put their attention on. I do agree with that. When we don’t sit together – we talk, ask questions, get angry and happy together. However, when we work together, but there is no day-today interaction between us, we need to stay as close as possible to one another. Talking, laughing (even swearing) are the team-building features.
We are all humans, we have better and worse days. All of us need attention and understating. It is not possible to be achieved via Skype chat or other Slack-ish tool only. Conversation is the key to success within a team.
There is no team without little chats or coffee breaks, sorry!

The other important thing in agile approach is a mindset. If a team member is not eager to cooperate, denies flexibility or talking – it is maybe not the right place for him (or her).

I do agree that agile approach to software making is not suitable for everyone and is not fitted to every project. It is fine.
It is also OK if you are more comfortable with working on legacy code, together with a waterfall approach. You don’t need to force yourself do be AGILE. There is a lot of space within software industry for every style and every tester or developer. Chill!

New team members

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In every Jedi Master’s life this day comes – he has to train young ‘Padawans’. Either a new team member, company member or a trainee.

Some time ago I was asked if there is a good way to introduce people into the project? The next question is – how will you know that the new team member IS READY to perform on his own.

Surprise! Surprise! (there is none)

People are not robots, it is not possible to predict what will happen. Going this direction – there is as many ways as Masters. The way you teach usually depends on your skills, empathy and understanding. And good will, of course!
There are such things as company values or project – related directions, but – AGAIN – conversation is the key.

People on my discussion panel suggested clever solutions, such as:

  • never imprison new testers with boundaries – let them explore your software
  • teach through example
  • less talking – more doing
  • provide documentation and lot of freedom.

Again, it depends on your skills and new-joiner’s abilities, what is possible to be achieved. Another point in this discussion is a recruitment process. If a correct person is selected, he’ll perform good testing in a short period of time.

People spotted also, that a new team member is fantastic benefit and opportunity for ourselves. In the position of trainer we are able to:

  • learn how much do we know
  • acknowledge our limitations (Context Driven Testing)
  • explore with a fresh look (Exploratory testing)
  • find unknown bugs
  • fix old bugs (for example those, that everyone got used to)
  • avoid knowledge silos.

Knowledge sharing

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Modern companies have lot of ideas to share knowledge. Most of the times, employees are able to run or attend cross-team / cross-technology workshops or presentations, take part in training or read books.

As I love to collect clever knowledge-sharing ideas – I’ve asked people “How do you share knowledge in your teams/organizations”.

Some of you may already know Michał Buczko – he encourages developers and testers to work in pairs (Pair people!) – it is a convenient way of broadening your horizons and extending knowledge.

In order to share knowledge, you may also “rent time”.
It may be an hour / day of a developer, tester or other team or company member.
How to do that? Just book a time with the person and take part in his / her day. You can exchange afterwards – it’s up to you.
I know that there are companies, which even “swap” jobs among completely different departments to FEEL the other person’s real working environment (I’m talking about you – Ocado:). All of those brilliant ideas may seem tiny, but they really work and empower people to do ingenious things.

Maybe some of those practices shall be a software company standard at some point?
I wish it to all of my test-buddies and to myself as well.

Should you have any comments, ideas, things that work fine at your company and you would like to share – comment down below or stalk me on Twitter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the summary – see you all on my next discussion panel 🙂

Cheers!