Tuesday, January 26, 2016

QA Perspective

I  gained a new perspective today after attending an event hosted by a QA group. The event was about how to influence change towards BDD (Behavior Driven Development). There was a remarkable turnout with a packed house and some folks sitting in the back without tables. I (as a developer) was in a room with a bunch of QA folks. The topic was BDD, which from my understanding so far was of more interest to developers than QA.

As it turns out...the focus from the QA standpoint was on changing the way development works. I've always viewed BDD as a fundamental change in the BAs worked. I guess it really goes to show that the ones downstream in any hand-off type of work are going to have the most interest in changing the patterns of those directly upstream.

This FURTHER reinforced this same realization I had last week when doing a penny passing experiment while in Agile training. The experiment, which seeks to show efficiency gains in iterative work over waterfall, goes like this -

setup - form groups of four, one person keeps time, the rest pass coins.

first run - pass a batch of coins one at a time from one person to the next. Each passer can't pass coins until he/she has the whole batch. Timer times from start to receiving all coins. This mimics waterfall and the coins represent deliverables.

second run - pass coins one at a time as soon as you have coins to pass. Time when the first coin reaches the end and when all coins reach the end. This is iterative.

In the waterfall process, ever one who is not passing coins is watching the coin passer. Clearly this takes longer and results in waste. In iterative, everyone is working with excitement and fervor to pass those coins along. Each is paying close attention to the upstream passer because that's where the coins are coming from. How about that?

Think of the iterative approach for a bit. If we do this over and over again, and we can talk in between each attempt - then we can make incremental improvements to the process of passing coins and seriously reduce our throughput over time. This is old-hat by now in software. Yet it seems that so many organizations are still struggling to work together to make improvements. Another antiquated notion seems to be the hand-off. Clearly the handoff leads to waste. Imagine the same penny experiment, but where each coin from the pile is passed by the whole team at once.

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