I am speaking at ‘Targeting Quality 2019’ , Canada

I am super excited to be speaking at this grand event TQ2019 being organised by KWSQA on 23-24 Sep in Canada!

On top of that I get to present not one but 2 talks!! My topics are

“The What, When & How of Test Automation” 45 mins

In this I will talk about preparing robust automation strategies. Agile means pace and agile means change. With frequent time boxed releases and flexible requirements, test automation faces numerous challenges. Haven’t we all asked what to automate and how to go about the daily tasks with the automation cloud looming over our heads. Here we’ll discuss answers to some of these questions and try to outline a number of approaches that agile teams can take in their selection of what to automate, how to go about their automation and whom to involve, and when to schedule these tasks so that the releases are debt free and of best quality.

“Gamify your Agile workplace”    15 mins

In this I’ll present live some innovation games and have audience volunteers engage and play games based on known scenarios. Let’s Play and learn some useful Innovation Games that can help you gamify your agile team and workplace, making the team meetings shorter and communication more fun!

Both these topics are close to my heart and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts with a wider audience.

I am also excited to meet all the awesome speakers at the event , as well as get to know the fantastic team of organizers behind this event!

Check out the detailed agenda here – https://kwsqa.org/tq2019/schedule/

Follow me at @testwithnishi, @KWSQA and #TQ2019 on twitter for more updates on the event!

Also check out & support other initiatives by KWSQA at https://kwsqa.org/kwalitytalks/

Wish me luck! 🙂

4 ways Task boards can help Agile teams

A task board is a physical or virtual chart containing all current team tasks at hand and their progress over time. For an agile team, all sprint tasks can be represented on the task board, and their flow over various stages can be tracked in the daily standup meeting. Task boards are a great way to visually representing pieces of work and their status.

Besides helping to organize and track work and being the focal point of the iteration and relevant meetings, task boards can have numerous more benefits for an agile team. In my article published @Gurock, I have discussed four additional ways in which Task boards can help an agile team-> https://blog.gurock.com/agile-task-boards/

Different styles of Task boards

Main points discussed–>

  • Customize the process
  • Visualize their Scrum
  • Improve Commitment and visibility
  • Facilitate Team interactions

Click here to read more ->

My talk @Playscrum Meetup by Leanpitch- 20 July’19

I was invited to present a talk at this month’s @Playscrum Meetup at Bangalore, hosted by @Leanpitch technologies on 20th July

It was a small event with a great set of delegates who gathered to hear me talk about Gamification in Agile teams. Agile teams rely heavily on communication and collaboration among all team members. In this session, I talked about about ‘Innovation Games’ which help make all agile meetings and ceremonies shorter, crisper, more visual and open involving all team members.

It was an interactive session wherein we played many Innovation Games with the audience volunteers, which was a big hit with everyone. There was good participation, many great ideas and discussions in the group. Overall a good experience at my first Playscrum meetup in Bangalore. Would love to collaborate again soon!

Here is a glimpse of the event-

https://www.meetup.com/PlayScrum-Bangalore/events/262475507/

‘Co-opetetion’ Among Agile Team Members

Agile focuses on motivated individuals acting together toward a common goal. Consequently, agile needs people to collaborate and requires complete transparency, communication, and cooperation, within and across teams. But at the same time, individuals instinctively try to outperform others in order to stand out in their teams.

This transition from individual responsibility to collective ownership is often the hardest part of the cultural shift that teams face when adopting agile. I have looked at ways to encourage healthy competition, more cooperation, and a sense of community among agile teammates in my latest article for Gurock – TestRail blog, the main points being-

  • Showing People the part they played
  • Have Co-workers appreciate each other
  • Measuring personal growth
  • Motivating with extra initiatives
  • Encouraging Collaboration and healthy competetion

Check out the complete article at – https://blog.gurock.com/agile-co-opetiton/ to find ways to encourage healthy competition and better team dynamics in your agile teams!

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Adopting a New Tool

We are all forever on the lookout for better and faster ways to achieve our quality goals, and adding new tools to our suite often seems like a good way to do that. However, introducing a new tool to an already working environment may be tricky and could require some special considerations.

In my latest article for @Gurock website, I take a look at five common mistakes teams make when adopting a new tool, so we can be sure to avoid them. My write-up has been published at TestRail blog here -> https://blog.gurock.com/5-mistakes-tool-adoption/

The main mistakes in tool adoption and their prevention steps that I have discussed in this article are:

  • Jumping in without a POC
  • Not testing the tool in a Pilot Project
  • Performing the wrong Profit analysis
  • Rolling Out adoption all at once
  • Neglecting Continuous Learning

Read the full article and let me know your thoughts!

Using Mind Maps for Agile Test Planning

Mind maps are a creative way of gathering ideas around a central theme and categorizing them in concrete branches. Mind maps can be useful for both personal and professional life as an organization and visualization technique. They’re descriptive, easy and even fun.

In my latest post for Gurock blog, I showcase the usage of mind maps as a technique for test planning and test design. This tool’s capabilities make your documentation leaner and ideas more visual, which benefits the whole agile team.
https://blog.gurock.com/agile-mind-map/

Be it test planning in an agile team which needs entire team’s insights and collaboration, or categorization of product features, test areas and backlog, Mindmaps can be used for all aspects and phases of the project.

Testers can generate their test ideas and have them categorized in a mind map around the central theme of the feature. The visual nature of a mind map helps them find more scenarios, see which parts are more heavily tested, and focus on main areas or branches. Once done, they can have other stakeholders take a look at it and get their opinions. This fosters brainstorming together and gathers the maximum number of ideas from the entire team.

Find useful tips to create your own mindmaps, as well as some samples for your reference in agile test designing as well as test planning. Read the complete article here ->
https://blog.gurock.com/agile-mind-map/

Share your thoughts!

Innovation Games – Part 4 – 20 / 20 Vision

Hello Readers!

Here we have for you another Innovation Game centered around prioritization. It is a visual and crisp way to chart out and understand priorities of upcoming tasks , features or stories.

Game :   20/20 Vision

Aim :       To chart out the RELATIVE priorities of the tasks at hand

Method:  The 20/20 game elaborates the prioritization of each task in relation to a benchmark task of medium priority and complexity.

Just like a visit to the Optometrist, where he makes you compare the various lenses to find the best suitable for your sight, in this game we make the team compare all stories / requirements / tasks and find the right place for them on the chart of priority in relation to the one benchmark level.

Description: Write down all stories on post-its. With the team’s consensus and decision, decide on one story which is of medium level and put in on the board in the middle.

Now the team goes through each story one by one, and places the story on the board as higher or lower priority in relation to the benchmark story. At the end of the exercise, we arrive at a visual representation of the story or task prioritization, giving us a clear road-map for future!

20-20

This game takes almost 15-30 minutes only depending on the number of tasks at hand, as compared to long planning meetings.

Give it a try, it is fun ! 🙂

Cheers,

Nishi

Innovation Games – Part 3 – Prune The Product Tree

Hello There!

Hope you are enjoying our series on Innovation Games, and learning some new techniques to engage your Agile team. In Part 1 and  Part 2 we discussed some really fun and interesting Agile Innovation games.

In this part we shall discuss a really unique Innovation Game which helps the team and stakeholders to gather a broader perspective on the product or project they are working on. While working on small components and intricacies of the project, it is possible for us to loose perspective and be confined in a narrow zone.Our game helps us to ‘Zoom-Out’ periodically and get a bird’s eye view of the project, its future and the road-map ahead. It is called –

Prune The Product Tree –

Objective:

  • To identify the most important features, aspects of the product as per the stakeholders and to elicit feedback from the customers.

Method :

  • Draw a big tree on the chart and draw its branches. The thick branches represent the major functionalities of your system. The smaller branches are the functionalities within each branch.
  • Participants place the index cards in their respective branches after writing the new expected features.
  • We may also add apples for functionalities that will be very useful for next releases, and flowers for the good-to-have features that may wow customers!

ProductTree
Prune The Product Tree

Analysis:

This will give an overview of the future direction of the product and gives visual representation on which branch of the product tree is expanding the most.

Try this out with your team , and you shall see the benefits soon! 🙂

Cheers.

Innovation Games – Part 2 – Speed Boat

Hey There!

Hope you enjoyed the first part of our series on “Innovation Games”!

The next Innovation Game in our series is “Speed Boat”. This is a fun way to do retrospectives and feedback meetings where there is need for all team members to voice their opinions in an open and anonymous way. This method reduces the duration of the meeting to almost one half and gets better results which may indeed be very useful for the improvement of the agile team.

Game Objective:

  • To find the impeding and the helping factors in achieving any goal. It can be used as a fun way of doing retrospectives, as it engages the team and brings out the concern areas.

Method:

  • Let’s take one iteration or sprint for retrospective. Draw a boat with a Sail on front end and Anchors pulling it down at the back end.
  • All participants are given post-its to write down the factors that they think helped them move faster and post them on the sails; the factors that impeded their speed in that iteration and post them on the anchors.
  • We may also look for the desired factors which may help more in future and label them as the wind.SpeedBoat

Analysis:

This feedback may be saved by just keeping a picture of this chart for revisit in the next sprint , or by saving the post-its as notes.The take-away would be to keep checking in the next sprints that we—

  • Minimize the anchors
  • Maximize the Sailing factors
  • Try and bring in the wind factors in the next iterations

This is a very useful tool to bring in better results from our retrospective meetings , give it a try in your agile team and let us know how it worked out!

Cheers,

Nishi

Getting Better at Agile — Using Agile Pods

Pod

Agile is an ever-evolving field, and its rate of change has exploded exponentially in the last decade. Businesses are constantly trying to catch up with the market pace—and evolving their processes accordingly. Scrum has seen huge success and led to easier adoption of agile in a lot of organizations, but there is a demand to further speed things up while allowing for flexibility in resource and time management. This pursuit led my team to what we call agile pods.

Agile pods are small custom agile teams, ranging from four to eight members, responsible for a single task, requirement, or part of the backlog. This organizational system is a step toward realizing the maximum potential of our agile teams by involving members of different expertise and specialization, giving complete ownership and freedom, and expecting the best quality output.

My company, Winshuttle, started the transition toward agile pods by dividing our one large product team of about twenty people into smaller teams of four to five members and calling them pods. The requirements got divided as independent deliverables for each pod based on the expertise of its team members. Because the team members were responsible for the design, plan, delivery, and quality of the output, the ownership level increased dramatically. Also, because complete communication happened directly, the results were faster and more precise.

Pod Organization

An agile pod is designed as per the requirement of the deliverable, involving varying levels of management, development expertise, QA, and creative talent. These teams are customizable and may change depending on the current requirements, creating a relevant ecosystem leading to maximum innovation and faster delivery times.

Pod Features

Agile pod teams are designed to be self-sufficient. The team is self-organizing and works with minimum supervision, creating a higher sense of ownership and maturity. Also, because most required expertise is available at hand within the team, there is a minimum level of dependency on people outside the pod. The pods stay together until the requirements keep coming for their team—say, for one release cycle.

A pod consists of the following team members:

1. Core team: These team members are dedicated full-time to working for their pod. They are part of all discussions, decisions, and standup meetings. The competencies of the core team members add up to the competency of that pod. The core team members may be shuffled between pods during or after the release cycle according to the expertise required.

2. Part-time specialists: These team members are available as part-time resources to support specialized project needs of different pods. They may be working for multiple pods at the same time. Examples would be a UI designer, a white box tester, or an automation engineer.

3. Pod leader: The pod is led by a pod leader, who is responsible for prioritizing the work with the business management team, clarifying requirements, and replenishing the queue for upcoming projects periodically.

The project management team does not interfere with the working of the pod apart from supplying the requirements and clarifying doubts about functionality or priority of tasks to be picked. The pod leader is an interface between the pod and the project management.

Like in Scrum, the daily standup meeting is scheduled so everybody can meet and discuss their updates, tasks, doubts, and risks. The part-time specialists may be included in the stand-ups whenever they are working with that pod.

Leveraging and Working in an Agile Pod

In order to leverage an agile pod, it is important to define clear requirements and then have an onboarding time for the agile team members. The skills and specialization of the team members must be kept in mind when putting them together in a pod, and the onboarding time must be dedicated toward getting them to understand the process and develop a level of understanding among themselves. Working in such a self-organizing and disciplined structure requires guidelines, team spirit, and acceptance among the team members.

In my experience as a pod leader, the first few weeks can be empowering and taxing at the same time. When our team got the responsibility to plan out the complete release cycle, requirements, design, and delivery schedule, participating in all those discussions brought exposure and a broader perspective to all the team members. Though the planning, triages, and prioritizing were new to most team members, once we got the hang of it, it actually felt energizing.

Further on, the communication became direct from the pod to all nodes outside the team, such as the project management group, the outsourced UI design team, and the other pods working in parallel. This reduced the communication time, filled the information gaps, and gave a voice to all opinions alike, and many brilliant ideas came our way.

Also, a major difference came in the dynamics between the development members and testers. We shifted our seating arrangements together, putting the entire pod, including developers and testers, together in a cluster. There were no secrets to be kept! Because the quality was an inherent part of the deliverable expectations from the pod, developers volunteered to help review the test scenarios prepared before testing happened on their components. Testers volunteered to buddy-test each component before it was finalized and released for the iteration level testing. This led to lesser issues in our production level builds, and demos to the project management mainly went bug-free. This also meant no altercations within the team on issues because everything was discussed, reviewed, and tested at buddy level.

All in all, at the end of a release cycle of about five weeks, we released a major chunk of functionalities that would have been difficult to get delivered in the normal scrum manner by any manager in the same amount of time.

So, give agile pods a shot and see how much good may come out of it!

Do share your experience..

Also read my write up about Agile Pods – published at –

http://www.agileconnection.com/article/using-agile-pods-realize-potential-your-team?page=0%2C2