Remote agile teams.

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This post is about using narratives in software development. I presented this idea at Brighton TestBash 2017 Open Space session. At that session we had two groups, one group was collocated agile team that is using in person communication almost all the time, opposite group was me, remote tester that is using communication tools most of the time.

We agreed on the premise:

Any software system begins as a shared narrative about a problem and the people who come together around solving that problem.

But first team is for in person sharing of this narrative (less typing), and I am for sharing that narrative using communication tools (more typing).

I do not claim that second approach is better than first one, but I think that using it, team can successfully share software narrative, along with some advantages.

Here is my tool set:

  • Jira or Github + ZenHub
  • Google docs
  • Slack

In one context, Github + ZenHub contains 95% of all information that I need to do testing. Also, communication is going on using github issues application. Slack has 5% of information. Product owner, developer and tester are all remote. So I think this is one of the main reasons why is all information typed and stored.

Because of that, I can always use tools SEARCH feature, to refresh my memory about the software narrative. This includes my own notes. FUTURE ME will read notes from PRESENT AND PAST ME.

So application domain knowledge is not LOCKED in my HEAD. This is risk for me because I can be easily replaced with another tester, but great benefit for the team and product. And this is what counts.

In another context I use Jira instead of Github. Jira has 5% of information, and Slack has 95%. In Slack we have dedicated channels that must properly named and used. As tester, you must be sure that you are subscribed to all those channels in order not to miss software narrative. Slack search feature works like a charm so I can easily travel back to the software narrative past.

Disadvantage being remote is  lack of emotions. Or maybe it is not because one emotion triggers another emotion and then the real job is not done. Also, it is possible to detected some emotions from the text context.

Conclusion? I think that remote positions are new thing of software development and this is one of the reasons why they are repealed by the traditional collocation teams.

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