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Quality and the Collective Responsibility of the Agile Team

By Leanne Howard | Business Agility Practice Director

INSIGHTS // Articles

11 Jul 2019

#Agile|#SAFe|#Strategy

INSIGHTS // Articles

#Agile|#SAFe|#Strategy

By Leanne Howard

11 Jul 2019

Practitioner in Agile Quality (PAQ) is a new Agile certification from iSQI, but what is it and what value does it offer? I delved into this topic recently in a webinar focused on how Agile quality is the collective responsibility of the whole team.

13th State of Agile Report: Everyone is Using Agile

The main reason this course was developed was to address what is being stated in a number of the industry surveys, such as the World Quality Report or the State of Agile Report, and the direction organisations are moving towards Agile.

In most of these surveys, approximately 90 per cent of organisations are said to be using Agile. That's not necessarily in all their delivery, but their take-up around Agile is certainly becoming the most common methodology and framework that people are using.

This indicates that people are understanding more about, and using more, Agile practices. At the same time, there’s the risk that they're not necessarily gaining all of the benefits.

For example, people now understand the mechanics of doing a ceremony or stand-up, but they're not understanding the value that they can get from it. The “why” is the key to unlocking the significant benefits of using an Agile methodology.

PAQ addresses this by being very practical focused when it comes to key Agile competencies. Thus, by the end of the course, you should be able to go back to your organisation and say, “I can do these things and I understand why I'm doing them”.

Here are each of the competency areas featured in PAQ, and why they are important to know:

Agile mindset

If you've been reading the above-mentioned industry reports, the Agile mindset is considered key to the success of your team and your organisation in realising Agile benefits.

This competency is emphasised throughout the whole of the course. The focus on practical application also means there's plenty of opportunity to collaborate and communicate with other people sitting on the course.

If you attend the course as a team, it is a great opportunity to build-up a combined Agile mindset with your team. If you come alone, you have a chance to hear about what's happening in other organisations and learn from their best practises.

Regardless of whether you come in a group or alone, there is plenty of opportunity in PAQ to develop and practice the Agile mindset skills, which are a must in today’s delivery and organisations.

Faster delivery

We often hear about the importance of planning in order to optimise our delivery.

Agile is not about no planning, and it's also not about doing things ad hoc. It's very much about understanding what we need to do, and not doing activities that are wasteful or unaligned to our end goal.

There are lots of practises that are discussed on the course that enable faster delivery, and equally as important faster feedback loops.

Build quality in

We need to build quality in, and to do so we need a customer mindset. This means understanding what customers need, but it’s not easy when every customer has a different perspective of quality.

However, it’s worth remembering that we are all customers. It’s good to understand from a team perspective how we can all have our own individual focus on quality, how we can approach it in a different way, and ultimately collaborate to deliver a better-quality product to customers.

This is when we should consider how much it really costs to build quality in, and how to build that in earlier versus how much it costs an organisation if poor quality products are released to production. Not just from the moment when we have the code and the software, but right from the requirements.

Engineering principles

More and more we're talking about how to adapt our processes, but at the same time ensuring that they're repeatable and auditable so we can keep delivering quality products. This is where estimation comes in and doing it right can go a long way in being able to predict delivery.

Estimate should be done from a team perspective, where everyone has the opportunity to ask questions, provide solutions, or discuss the complexity of delivering that user story, ensuring there is buy-in from everyone right at the beginning in delivering that product.

Continuous testing

Continuous testing is one of the core concepts of business agility, but how do you achieve it? In essence, how do you make things visual in order to measure its completion and time investment?

This calls for starting testing from day one with daily delivery of code, but this raises the question of regression testing. If we're having daily drops of code, then that means we're regression testing it every day as well.

So how do we cope with these kinds of volumes of regression testing? This needs to be addressed in the techniques we use in a continuous testing environment.

Scalability

PAQ is not a course on agile scalability, but it is an area we need to be aware of.

With more and more organisations using Agile, we're not just talking about agility within a team. Now it’s about being Agile across the organisation, and ensuring all of those teams work well together.

Whole team approach

Nowadays, it's about the whole team approach to quality. It’s about identifying how we can all contribute, and how we can collectively make a much better product for the customer.

By involving all team members, we are able to harness all of their diverse views and gain a different way of looking at things. Doing so means that we’ll be able to deliver a better-quality product to the customer.

The value of PAQ is in its practical nature. Not only does it effectively lead you through the key Agile concepts mentioned above, you are also presented with a great opportunity to experience and implement them firsthand.

If you’re looking to drive quality throughout your products without compromising speed of delivery, visit our PAQ page to learn how you too can get the necessary knowledge and insights to achieve better project outcomes.

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