So far in this blog series we have taken stock of where we have been in our testing journey, sounded the bells about using this time of quarantine-imposed slowdown to reassess and get to a better end state (we are going to awesome, let everyone else return to normal). Revisit blogs one and two for a short history of how testing organizations haven’t been working well for some time, but if you are ready to act—today we are moving from defense to offense with tangible actions. You are going to win this game—and we are here to show you the way to victory.
We live in a time in which it is difficult to think about the next month, much less the end of the year. But if I were to ask you, where you wanted your testing organization’s (or your organizations’ testing capability) to be on 12/31/2020, what would your answer be? I think I know the answer, as do you – but the challenge is to take the measurable steps to get there. It is hard to break free of the inertia that comes from the last 20+ years of always playing on the defense (budgets cuts, having the rug pulled from under our feet on already aggressive timelines, being brought into projects too late with unrealistic delivery and quality goals) in the testing world. Our precarious position within this crazed software development business always seems to have us on our back foot. And while that has caused us to develop plenty of resiliency and resolve, it is time to go on the offense with a quality engineering model driving towards continuous testing.
Your “want to do” list.
So, take this as your official “want to do” list to take charge and win the day.
- Consider banning the word “testing” in your organization. Change the name to “The Quality Team” or “Quality Engineering, Inc” or the “A team” for that matter (if you remember the A-team, you know that they would have been a fantastic quality engineering team – they were constantly under pressure and had to always deliver…and they loved it when a plan came together). It seems like an insignificant thing, but successfully moving to a quality engineering model – with a focus on continuous testing driven by hyper-automation, is as much a function of cultural change as it is of changing tools, processes, and techniques. Testing suggests an afterthought and does not capture the crucial role YOU play in accelerating the delivery of your organization’s software initiatives.
- Update your charter (or create a new charter if you don’t already have one—for great examples of charters, let’s set up a call or you could take advantage of our quick Jumpstart workshop to help get your charter on the right track). Create it in tandem with the development and DevOps organizations, as quality is everyone’s business (and mostly it is the development organization’s business). With clear expectations, defined roles, and shared objectives, you can eliminate the communication missteps that lead to last-minute scrambles and suboptimal outcomes.
- Build a plan to grab that low hanging fruit (the fruit is there; you just need to look for it in the right spots). Start with something small – think of the minimal viable product paradigm with the intent to scale it. Get one single development team “on board” - pick the one that is most likely to be open to change – and achieve some small successes, broadcast those successes, and then move to bigger things and more teams. You will be amazed at how everyone else starts to pay attention when the status quo is no longer the accepted baseline. As Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
- Put a two-phase plan in place (no longer than 12 months out). Phase 1 (baby steps) – what you will accomplish in the next 3 months. Phase 2 – what you will accomplish in months 4-12
- Pick two to three things that can improve immediately with little cost or effort– the real low hanging fruit – so you can build momentum. Everything is better in digestible bites—imagining a radically different organization in the hazy future can be too daunting. You can start by identifying common quality pain points – not necessarily ones that are going to be extremely unique to a specific application or platform. Remember, you want to be able to scale improvements, so it is better to identify common problems sets that most likely all the development and DevOps teams are facing. (And don’t forget, figure out how you will measure success before you start so you know when to pop the champagne)
- We can’t say this enough--broadcast your successes like crazy – and let everyone share in the win. Making development as fast as possible, with the highest possible quality is the goal. Development successes enabled by quality engineering (or the A-team) will become the new normal-- versus the age-old “testing just keeps finding more defects and taking too long.”
- Always have a list going for the next two plays (after you score and do your endzone dance). Keeping the momentum high by continuing to tackle the next actions will power you and your team through
It’s simple, but not basic.
Certainly, none of this is new ground, but even though we know what needs to be done, we struggle to act on what seems insurmountable. When you train for a marathon (haven’t we all had enough of the sprinting analogies in software development?), you don’t go out and do all 26.2 miles right away. And if you thought about running 26.2 miles at the start, you might hang up your running shoes. Instead, you start with a few miles—and you build over time until you are doing distances you could have barely imagined. I see far too many organizations at the extremes-- either trying to do too much in one bite or completely unable to extract themselves from plugging the holes to drive the changes needed to move from doing testing (quality control) to true quality engineering (driving quality)
As your humble coach (I coached football for 12 years, so yes, I still get to consider myself a coach), I hope I’ve just given you the halftime speech that will have you driving down the field ready to score. But before it is time for me to hand over the clipboard and the whistle, I want to invite you for our upcoming webinar where we will review our industry survey on all things testing (continuous testing, test automation, enabling DevOps, etc) and will discuss how industry leaders are addressing – and sometimes struggling with - the same topics we have covered in this blog series. Stay tuned to our Blog 4 of the #MakeTestingAwesome series.