Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Measure of Trust

When we complain about metrics, it seems that we focus on the potential for abuse. A team that will optimize whatever measure that is put into place. A consultant that considers yak-shaving as billable, even if that means their projects experience an overrun.

But what about metrics when the environment is a high-trust environment?

What if the team truly wanted to improve and their management truly wanted them to improve, and their clients were bought in as well? If the potential for abuse is eliminated (or low likelihood) then why not use simple, non-invasive measures to rally around? Why not celebrate that .5d-improvement in cycle time?

Work on trust first, then metrics.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

UAT as a Lean Startup

User acceptance testing (UAT) – that misunderstood human activity that is squeezed from front to back by late delivery and set-in-stone go-live dates – is an opportunity to use lean tactics.

The user acceptance team is a cross-functional team. An enterprise solution will have many different flavours of technical folk and an equally diverse range of business folk. If it were a coach on the sidelines, Lean would say to bring those diverse individuals together early to craft an approach together.

The time allocated to UAT is fixed, and might shrink. Our coach Lean would say better to identify those things that really matter and get to them first. An excellent example of a context for relentless prioritization.

The technologies you use to set up, track, and communicate with don’t have to be the expensive ones. Lean would say you can be capital-efficient by favouring simple tools – checklists over test management systems, burndown charts over tool-generated coverage reports, a kanban board for discovered issues over a defecting tracking system (issue severity is a natural attribute to use for defining classes of service).

Then there’s the communication piece. As lean is transparent to and inclusive of the customer, UAT is transparent to and inclusive of its customers – developers and those people making the acceptance decision. Constant communication and adjustment should be expected, and given. The coach would suggest that since a decision is required, asking what information those decision-makers need in front of them to make that decision is prudent. And do that at the beginning.