Agile Rollout Warning Signs

I was working with some clients recently when one of them leaned back in his chair and announced:

“Well Paul’s leaving. I guess he finally got fed up.”

The group of developers and sysadmins were disappointed at the news. They wondered why he decided to leave as it turned out he was a key champion from the QA group in pushing a closer working with development. He had a development background and had been key in moving the group from manual testing to working closely with developers on tests and adding automated regression suites.

Early the group had explained they had adopted Scrum in the development group about 18 months prior and it had been going fairly well with now 5-6 Scrum teams. One of the biggest successes had been the closer work with testing. And a familiar problem area had been the problem in getting the true product managers to attend the Scrums as they largely delegated to business analysts and much was lost in the translation.

Apparently the QA team was going to take this hard as Paul had been a champion of theirs in evolving their practices and fighting for respect for QA at the table. It sounded like he had pushed hard and been denied many things because of an unwillingness to imagine QA outside of their traditional role. This shop also had the Mercury suite of testing tools which often is a sign of a dedication to focusing on bug databases and record and playback style automation that doesn’t go nearly far enough in improving the effectiveness of QA.

I hope they succeed as the people I worked with all seemed bright and dedicated to improving things, but a couple of these items are classic warning signs in an Agile adoption that is likely to run out of steam.

  • Agile champions like this QA developer pitching in the towel.
  • Product managers delegating day to day involvement in the Scrums.
  • Use of less than Agile style tools like the Mercury suite.
  • QA still having a real perception problem in the organization.

I certainly hope that this test lead doesn’t turn out to be a canary in the coal mine in regards to their Agile rollout.