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!