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A year in “development”…

“Something about the last year, growing the test team, getting to Head of Test and unification of tools…”

Me – 2017


The above was an idea for a blog post that I started to write in October of last year. With that in mind, I’m forced to ask where the last “year” has gone?!? Did anyone else see it, or did it run over you as well; not bothering to stop to ask if you’re OK and still in one piece?

The (not so) surprising thing about the title of this post is that it’s still relevant to the last year, also. A lot has happened. A lot that’s been good; some that have been utterly amazing; some that’s been the worst it could be. But still, it’s been an interesting year.

Heading up the Test Function

As the original idea above suggests, I was promoted to “Head of”. For me, one of my biggest ever achievements and one that I will always look back on with humility and, yes, pride. Though I hasten to add that the pride with this is that which came with building a new team, and a team that communicated, helped, socialised and generally interacted without any “management” from me.

Anyone in this team would tell you that the first thing I always said to any of them was that “I don’t like to manage people. You’re here because I know you can do the job and that you will not need me to manage you – but I am always here for leadership and mentoring, and to stand up for you; should it be needed. If I have to manage anyone, that’s when there’s a problem”. And, although it might sound brash, or like something you shouldn’t really say, it worked. Everyone on my team (I dislike saying “my team” as well. It seems too possessive!) appreciated it. Yes, I did have to manage some people in my time as Head of Test, with outcomes with both outcomes of this happening, but I had more “successes” with this than, I suppose, failures.

All in all, though, I can’t say that I would change anything about my time in this role.

Building a Team

…and I did just that. Although, I say, “I” (again, utter dislike as it just seems so narcissistic), but I like to think that I started the team on its journey to becoming what it now is: A Community. Truly, I know that sounds like a load of old tosh, though hopefully not like something out of the management “B.S.” phrase generator, but really it really was. I just hope it stays that way.

Although the test team members were distributed throughout the development landscape, they would all come together, or actively seek out other members when they needed to find something out; each helping to pass on their own knowledge to others in the community.

I had a dream that I would be able to create a truly multi-disciplined test team; with members being able to just be taken from a central “bucket” that could be “deployed” wherever they were needed; be that for a sprint, a project lifecycle or however long they were needed. This would also allow the test function to be ramped up and scaled back accordingly where needs arose; allowing the remaining members to create a Regression and Integration team, or teams, thus increasing the regression suits and making sure that testing was being improved both inside and outside of the Agile Delivery Teams.

Unification of Tools

This is more of a subjective success I suppose, but still, one that I believe was worth doing and we all made the right decisions with what we had to work with at the time.

Question though: why is it that no one can be happy/satisfied/deal with the decisions that were made without them? Does everyone think that most decisions are made without any real thought and just arbitrarily carried out without any consultation or without reason?

I suppose the question I would ask here though is this: At what point, or with what frequency should organisations look to review their tools? And to what level should their decision be made due to the reliance, interdependence and existing processes come into such decision making?

Other noteworthy “stuff”

I am grateful that I had 3 very specific people on my team as well. All of which were either promoted, or promoted “sideways” to enable the business to function better and help interactions between the development and test functions (yes, I’m more than aware of there are no testers in a sprint team, with everyone being a developer, but this is real life), which was a success. Or, maybe it wasn’t. I like to stay positive though.

Thanks to everyone in the “community”. It’s a real pleasure to know you all.
/B