Roll-out and Adoption Agile Testing

The phases and their associated tasks involved in the roll-out and adoption of your agile process include the following.

Pre-Agile Process Roll-out Phase

During this phase, a number of tasks must be completed in preparation for the roll-out and use of your agile process. The tasks in this phase include the following:

  • Establish the need for agile process.To make a major change to the way it currently develops software, your organization needs a compelling need to act;for example:
    • If your organization is currently developing software using traditional techniques, have there been issues with projects missing their delivery dates, with projects completing over budget, and/or with delivery of software that contains too many defects?
    • Do your customers complain that the development approach used by your organization is too rigid, that they do not have the opportunity to influence what gets developed, and that delivered software does not match their needs or expectations?
    • Are your competitors adopting agile practices to make their software development and delivery process more effective and efficient?
    • Is your organization under significant commercial pressures to deliversoftwarefaster, with less effort and cost, and with higher quality?

If one or more of these compelling needs to act apply to your organization, you can use this information to make a compelling business case for agile to your own senior management.

  • Establish the likely return on investment of the proposed agile test process.Before approaching management with your proposal for the adoption of your agile process, spend some time collecting information that you will need to make a compelling business case. Consider the time and effort involved in rolling out and adopting an agile process and the likely returns to your company compared with continuing to use the current approach to developing and testing software.
  • Gain management commitment and approval.In making a business case to management for the adoption and use of your agile process, there are a number of things you might do:
    • Identify an agile champion–this should be someone in your organization who can communicate at all levels in the company (from management to practitioner level), who is enthusiastic about agile, and who has the communication skills to make the case for agile.
    • Consider delivering internal agile educational/lunch and learn/workshop/external speaker sessions to your colleagues and to management to raise the profile of agile methods and their potential benefits to your organization.
    • Highlight the compelling need(s) to act, which were identified earlier, to appropriate managers(perhaps making use of your agile champion)and discuss the effort and likely benefits of rolling out your agile process.
    • Look to gain(and document)management support for an agile POC or pilot project to demonstrate the quantitative benefits of your agile process. Ensure that management support for the POC/pilot includes adequate time, budget, and resources to complete it successfully.

Agile Process Roll-out Phase

During this phase, a number of tasks are performed in preparation for the roll-out of your agile process. The tasks in this phase include the following:

  • Baseline current development and testing practices.If you are to convince management of the benefits of adopting an agile approach, you will need to be able to demonstrate quantitatively that agile will save time, effort, and money. To do this, you need to obtain data on how long it typically takes your organization to write software, how much effort is expended, and what the overall cost is. It may also be necessary to show improvements in software quality, in which case you may need to be able to obtain data on defect detection rates as well. If your organization already collects these metrics, that will make the process easier. If not, you may have to rely on estimates obtained in discussion with your colleagues.
  • Resource the POC/pilot project. Ensure you give the agile pilot project the best chance for success;using your documented management approval, recruit the best staff you can, ensure you have dedicated hardware and software, and appropriate rooms to ensure co-location of the team.
  • Provide training, mentoring, and process guidance.Where necessary, make sure that training and mentoring are available to ensure the team members have the right skills and knowledge to be successful, and make agile process guidance available to the team.
  • Execute agile POC/pilot project. In setting up and running the POC/pilot project you need to consider the following:
    • Select an appropriate project. Ensure you pick a project that is appropriate to an agile approach and that is achievable; you must ensure that you show off your use of an agile approach to its best advantage. Don’t be overconfident and bite off more than you can chew on the POC.
    • Underpromise and overachieve. Look for early wins to increase team morale and confidence, try to deliver working software as quickly as possible, involve the agile champion, and demonstrate early progress to your management sponsor and customer.
    • Collect accurate metrics. At the end of the POC, enthusiastic qualitative claims about the success of the project are unlikely to influence hard-nosed managers. However, if you have collected metrics that show quantitative improvements over the incumbent development process, this can sway even the most stoic of accountants.
    • Collect useful collateral. Be receptive to, and make notes on, particular highlights from the POC, particularly successful events, or memorable quotes from team members, management, or the customer;these can be reused after the pilot to help promote the success of the project.
  • Review results of POC/pilot project.Take some time at the end of the POC toreview the result. Get together with the team and the agile champion to discuss the highlights of the project, to review project metrics, and compare these with the baseline figures for the existing development and testing approach. Begin to document the results and consider how to report this information to the interested parties.

Post-Agile Roll-out Phases

  • Report on success of POC/pilot project. After analyzing the results of the POC, work with your agile champion to determine the best means of reporting the success of the project. The deliverables from this task could include the following:
    • A management summary document that highlights the key results of the project. This summary will save senior managers the effort of working their way through a larger and more comprehensive report document(which may make the difference in some cases between the results getting read or not).
    • A full report that formally documents the results of the project in detail, and which could contain an analysis of the project metrics as well as formal return on investment calculations. This document can be used by anyone in the organization who needs a deeper understanding of the results of the project.
    • A formal presentation that highlights the results of the POC, and which can be delivered to senior management to provide them with a succinct briefing on the results of the project. This presentation could be used as the vehicle for the delivery of the management summary and/or full report to management.
    • An informal presentation(perhaps reusing a customized version of the formal presentation)on the highlights and results of the project, that can be delivered to interested colleagues and other practitioners.

Following a successful pilot project or POC, seek management approval to introduce your agile process on other projects, perhaps as a follow-on from the POC or on new projects that are in the pipeline.

  • Monitor and improve your agile test process.In the best traditions of agile projects, continue to improve your agile process. Learn from projects that were particularly successful, or from agile projects that didn’t do so well, and document the lessons learned for use on future projects. Investigate how the process might be customized for different-size or special needs projects(such as offsite and offshore projects).
  • Advertise results. Nothing succeeds like success;ensure agile win-stories are publicized to management,colleagues, and other practitioners in the organization:
    • Consider using “lunch and learn” sessions, email newsletters, and/or items on the company intranet to promote agile successes.
    • Continue to make use of your agile champion to promote the case for agile throughout the organization.
    • Consider passing on your agile best practice knowledge to others in the industry by writing technical papers and looking for opportunities to speak about your agile experiences.
  • Continue to evangelize. Don’t make the assumption that agile will simply take off on its own;it may, but continued agile evangelism by you, your colleagues, and your agile champion will all help to promote the cause of agile development and testing. Consider setting up an agile special interest group within the organization, investigate holding monthly meetings(and ensure management representatives are invited), and look to invite interesting external speakers. The key thing to remember is to have stamina!

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