Quality is the Responsibility of the Whole Team

Originally this article was postet on trendig.com English & Deutsch

Since 2001 we have the agile manifesto in place and since then the whole industry is learning to use agile principles and values in their daily work of software development.

 

agile manifesto

The Agile Manifesto guides teams through agile transition and in their daily work of software development.

One of the problems I see, is that many who claim to be working in an agile environment have never read or really understood the agile values. While consulting teams or giving trainings, I’ve heard countless times that the Agile Manifesto says everything that is on the right side is what we should not do, e.g. in agile we have no plans, no contracts, no documentation or processes. I got to know a team who lost their software architect in agile transition because architects are not mentioned in the Agile Manifesto. Now they struggle with huge technical issues and there is no one who can help them… But it is not meant to be like this! The Agile Manifesto states that value is in items on both sides, but if we have to choose, we are choosing items on the left over the ones on the right. Logic says we have to have all items of the Agile Manifesto if we want to deliver sustainable software and improve our delivery cycle. The aspect that agile methods wants to highlight is, that documentation, plans or contracts are not the aim of the project, but are supporting tools. The aim of agile projects is always to deliver working software, have valued team members, and promote collaboration with customers and value responding to change.

 

the whole team approach

The way in which we achieve the values and the principles described in the Agile Manifesto is using the whole team approach. Since it changes fundamentally how we work together in a project, you can say it is a new style of project management in which everyone on the team is held equally responsible for the quality and success of the product.

The Whole Team Approach supports the 5th principle behind the Agile Manifesto.

Professionals in software development know that each development decision is a quality decision as well. The Agile Manifesto sets it as a top priority. Software quality does not depend on the software development model that we use, but on the method how we all together as a team structure the whole software development process. Together, we use tools and activities which support the achievement of high software quality. One of these activities is testing.

 

what does testing mean?

Everyone around the world knows or can imagine what “software development” or “project management” are, but very few can say what software testing is, how do you do it and, most importantly, why?

10 years ago when I started my career in testing, there was the statement: “everybody can test” with the meaning that you do not need special skills to test. Today I often state myself: “everyone can test software”, – meaning everyone: developers, software architects, product owners, support people and operations – everyone, who can analyse information and build a mental model of it, to discover invisible strings and deviations between software and requirements, business regulations, standards, norms and legal regulations. Testing is an intellectual sport. But we are more used to say: Testing is the process of how we collect information about our product with the aim that, based on this information, the team is able to decide what to do next.

Two types of testing are very important in an agile context: automated regression and exploratory testing. With regression tests we collect information about software features which are already in use by users, and with exploratory tests we are learning about software features that we are currently developing.

If you run tests and your team cannot make decisions based on information your tests collected, your tests are not adding value. If you write weekly reports and nobody on your team reads those, your reports are not adding value. If there are 12,000 automated tests and no one can articulate what they cover, the automated tests are not adding value.

You may still have a tester on your agile team that acts as a coach for testing techniques and does some of the testing, but on an agile team, everyone should be able to collect information about the current state of the software. Remember: quality is the team’s responsibility.

the challenge of change

The essence of the whole team approach lies in the testers, developers, and the business representatives working closely together at every step of the development process. Because the whole team is responsible for success and quality, the whole team or at a minimum, representatives from each specialty – see three amigos  – is involved in every consultation or meeting in which product features are presented, analyzed, or estimated. For many organisations and individuals, it can be a struggle.

The first attempt to switch to an agile software development, in my experience, in 90% of cases looks like a 2-week-waterfall development. It is hard to change a person’s way of thinking or collaborating, a company culture or processes already in place. People and companies have to break deep-rooted processes, e.g. working in silos or not listening to junior members. Give it time and recognize people’s fears – it is scary to change! Some fears that people have expressed to me are:

  • “How exactly should I support my team members?”,
  • “If everyone should be able to test, what should I, the tester, do?”
  • “If the whole team decides on issues, what should I, the project manager, do? Is there still a job for me?”,
  • “According to our HR guidelines and my job title, I am a senior developer, but I never really understood testing. What will happen if others find out?”

All of those are valid questions and should be addressed.

Janet Gregory and Lisa Crispin were two of the pioneers in agile testing. Many agile testers call their book “Agile Testing” the Bible, because it was the first comprehensive book about testing in an agile context. Today they have the extension “More Agile Testing” and the 3-day hands-on training “The Whole Team Approach to Agile Testing and Quality”, for whole software development teams, with games and exercises on collaboration, planning and agile testing quadrants. I train this course myself because I am convinced that I can give many team members valuable knowledge for the implementation in their daily work. But whether it’s a book or training or reading blog posts or just trying things out for yourself: I encourage everyone to take a look at the whole team approach, because it is an important step forward when the entire team feels responsible for success and quality.

Learning Lessons

To escape old thinking and behaviour patterns will try some new things. First two I will print out on handy cards, carry with me and will use every waiting moment when I would usually check my mobile, to check my learning cards. For my-needs-card I have another idea. Tomorrow starts our team-summer-work-camp and I want to do it as a team exercise to raise awareness how different we are and what do we need to deliver better results.

Command Line

CRITICAL THINKING CHEAT SHEET

My Needs card by Angie Doyle

GDPR Awareness

We got 2 years to adapt to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the new EU Privacy law. But most of us are excellent in procrastination and sometimes it is easier simply to panic.

In my understanding GDPR is about personal data, operations with it and consent of data owner. I have very simple wordpress blog/website. I do not collect any information about my readers, I never force somebody to read my blog post or any other pages of my website, I have no special plugins or cookies to track you, I do not send any emails. So why should I bother about GDPR?

If I do not collect any personal data, am I sure that the platform I use for my blog (WordPress) does not do it as well? To answer that question, I checked first what GDPR understands with “personal data”. Answer is simple – anything what helps you to identify physical person. Some examples: name, postal address, bank account, email address, IP address.

Yes, you can identify somebody by his email address and IP address, and both are pretty necessary to do anything on internet.

WordPress is no exception – it collects personal data of users – readers and spammers. Here you can see site stats and link in admin panel to akismet stats – both default features which I cannot deactivate. If you want to leave a comment than 1) you have to log in and 2) your IP will be saved, which is another default feature, which I cannot deactivate.

Second bunch or potential danger are all kind of embedded social networks – g+, FB, twitter … you name it. They are present in our digital lives, but I have no idea what exactly they do.

What i did?

  1. reduce the waste! I removed everything what I do not find necessary. e.g. I have no liking or sharing options anymore, because I do not use it myself and I do not know what the third parties do with my readers data.
  2. started to rework privacy policy page and consider to look for another blogging platform
  3. WordPress created webpage for all GDPR related issues. I expected to find there answers to all my questions, but unfortunately it did not happen. One of the issues (please notice that this is less then 24h before regulation takes effect):
>> How do I opt out of being tracked when I use Automattic’s services?

We’ll offer an opt-out from our first party analytics tool for WordPress.com users. We are still working to finalize this process for our products. We will update the information here, and in our documentation, with more details about how these processes work once they are ready.

 

what should you do?

  1. first of all you should know that I do not collect any data on you
  2. if you do not want to be identified –
    • do not spam (in this case WP saves your IP address to protect my website)
    • do not leave a comment on my website (in this case you have to log in on the platform) — UPDATE: until WP updates the platform, I am closing commenting feature.
    • do not follow my blog (login on WP)
  3. if you want to contact me – do it via email: kris [at] corbus dot digital  or twitter

Some links, I found useful

Definitions what GDPR understands with personal data, operations with it and consent of data owner

GDPR compliance checklist

DSGVO Selbsthilfegruppe on FB (German)

Privacy policy of others (German)

Privacy policy generator (German)