With the proper mindset, an Agile Transformation is a great opportunity for growth from a traditional quality control into a real quality assurance
“The only constant in life is change” yet most of us tend to resist change in one way or another. When we learn to break free from this resistance, we unlock new growth opportunities.
My story is about a growth journey of a quality assurance team during a process of Scaled Agile Transformation. This journey helped me evolve, not only technically but also on a personal level.
It all started three years ago, when my company launched an Agile Transformation at Scale. I was a manager in the quality assurance team in a company of 2000+ employees. We were a QA team of 100 people, responsible of securing quality before signing off the product release: Heavy quality checks in a waterfall development cycle, at the end of the chain after features are “done”.
This lagging involvement in the development life cycle was also automatically prolonging the distance between us and them (them being our product and development teams colleagues) in addition to the 3191 kilometers already separating us.
When the agile transformation breeze hit the company (breeze? Perhaps Storm would be more appropriate), everybody started talking about cross-functional autonomous agile teams, built in quality, continuous integration and the test pyramid. Ironically, some internal rumors started circulating about QA becoming redundant in the years to come. After all, in Agile the developer does most of the testing, so what would you need QA for?
The transformation came as an answer to the company’s ambitious vision and targets to reduce TCO and strengthen market positioning, and every milestone of this vision required us to grow. Among the many million dollar questions we had to answer were the following:
“How do we enable continuous integration while increasing product quality and decreasing the cost to reach it?”
“How do we grow and motivate QA engineers and help them unlock their potential during a transformation journey?”
We had to move from the end of the chain to its very beginning, we had to unlearn old habits, we had to share our knowledge and learn new skills, and most importantly we had to dare to try. The journey was far from being an easy one. New challenges are still emerging, even three years down the road, yet we have indeed come a long way.
Today the “us” and “them” is becoming one collective “us” .
Quality is at the heart of the product design and is part of its Definition of Done.
We are discovering that QA engineers make great scrum masters and that it is not a coincidence, and yes they are still 3191 kilometers away.
I am eager to tell you all about this journey, and how we got here. I am also excited to share with you my personal growth as a manager driving and witnessing this ®evolution, while learning that team management and coaching are two sides of the same coin.