One of the practical challenges of implementing Agile is distributed teams. While it is true that the Agile framework by its definition fosters diverse environments of today’s businesses. In terms of test management this poses several logistical and process related problems.
Yet, more and more teams are now geographically distributed and not co-located. And they are here to stay as more employers operate on a global model, often offshoring, outsourcing or crowdsourcing. To ship your release on time and on quality therefore, is a tight-rope walk. How do you bring the discipline? Here are some tools and techniques that work:
The advantage of modern technology is that you can foster communication using tools and software. Remote pairing of testers is a great idea to promote collaboration among multiple teams and geographies. All you need is video-chat capabilities or audio call and screen-sharing software. Of course, time-zones will wary. But pairs can decide a mutually overlapping schedule that allows them to test or communicate together daily.
2. Communication redundancy
Communication is tricky business even for co-located teams. Add diverse locations and time-zones to the mix, and it is all too-easy to miss sharing vital information. The important thing to remember is that continuous Integration is the basis for instant feedback and to keep the technical debt minimal.
Using tools, techniques and processes that shorten the feedback loop can help you deliver value. From daily-stand up meetings, video calls and other messaging/communication channels. All team members will need the discipline and motivation to keep the conversation running.
Communicating early and efficiently is key. Since release timelines depend heavily on tester approval, it is important to express the potential roadblocks or red flags as early as possible.
3. Set out guidelines for Project-reporting
The better you plan your test cycle and test plans, the better visibility for testers. Set out a clear set of guidelines for testers to follow in their reports. This can include things like environment details, steps to reproduce, attachments, screen recording. Be specific about the expectations and document the process.
4. Test management with a unified platform
Too often we hear of teams using legacy tools or even Excel to manage their test data. Some organizations even have different team members using different tools. This has some obvious dangers including version control, access, compatibility.
Luckily, it is not difficult to migrate to a modern, centralized test management tool. If you choose wisely, you can find many sophisticated tools that integrate well into other products in your tool stack like Jira, Rally, FogBugz, Jenkins etc.
For example, QMetry’s Digital Quality Platform is designed for agile and DevOps team to collaborate better and deliver faster. Read how QMetry helped a leading healthcare provider resolve inconsistent QA processes across multiple locations by unifying and formalizing their test management.
Remember, the platform should be accessible not just to testers but stakeholders to view status, metrics and leverage its reporting capabilities.
Instant messaging and chats
Having a common chat stream for your test groups can make it very easy for remote workers or multi-located team members who need information quickly. Testers can take discussions offline or move to a different chat stream if they find the discussion too lengthy for all present.
5. Other collaboration tools
From Office 365 to Google Docs to Slack, Zoom and Trello – there is a wide choice of task management and project management tools. Not every tool or product works for all teams. So, choose he one that is ideal for your requirements and one that all teams are open to using.
Multi-location teams will be the new normal in a couple of years. Sometimes the barriers are more psychological than physical.
If you don’t want team geography to deter you from efficient and speedy releases, you need to plan better, use technology and valuable tools and resources available at your disposal.