Agile Teams Need to Bring Their A-Game




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What do Olympic volleyball teams and software Agile teams have in common? A ton. They both have to call forth every effort. Whether it’s keeping a volleyball inbounds and getting it over the net within three touches, or designing software applications and creating test suites that help build great APIs, the key is teamwork. All these teams are working together to drive excellence.

Outcomes are out of our control. But if you show up with your A-game, you increase the chances of making the most of opportunities and overachieving on your own goals. It’s fair to say every athlete that went to Tokyo this past summer trained for years for the moment where they could shine. 

Hurdling Isn’t Just for Olympians

Just like any athlete, software folks are faced with a myriad of challenges — and they need to overcome the hurdles outside their control. For example, the tech stack they integrated is sometimes outmoded and feels like a drag to work with (or around). Sometimes the analytics lack the insight the team had hoped for — perhaps the wrong features flagged, or the test results were less than obvious.

We all know that analytics and insight can be the secret to the team’s success, but analysts, data and IT (or data scientists) need to bring their A-game to pull forth these insights and learn what these things bring to the table.

It directly impacts the business, too. Teams need to deliver on visions of where they want to go with their products. Teams need to deliver on customer issues. Teams are barraged by product marketing and sales to innovate and build new things to take to market. Finally, and most importantly, all engineering teams are driving toward delivering faster without bugs.

“Build quality applications at speed” is the mantra we hear from CTOs and CPOs. Amid this constant list of demands, it’s hard for these teams to bring their A-game to every issue. BUT if teams don’t bring it, then they can’t capitalize on the opportunities they’re driving toward. So what’s the secret of organizations that constantly deliver quality at speed?

Related Article: What Agile Teams Bring to the Digital Workplace

Cool Tech Now, Uncool Debt Later

The secret is empowerment. These teams understand that tech stacks need to be optimized, and today’s technical innovations are tomorrow’s technical debt. So they optimize this reality with a balanced approach of blending new solutions with the tried and true ones. This allows you to move with new tools while supporting existing tools.

With this mentality, dev teams drive to build more testing and empower operator developers with more monitoring. This gives them a means to control software operations and fosters an approach toward shifting “UP” with exploratory testers as a way to maximize the quality of the applications.

Related Article: The Long-Term Impacts of Ongoing Technical Debt

Not to Sound Like Your Coach, But … Teamwork!

Combining these steps helps organizations approach software deployment and rolling out production software. What I’m saying, in practical terms: build and deploy. But while you are, make sure you’re doing these things: test early, test atomically, test often and iterate. When deploying, drive toward managing the bugs, and understand the significance of stability.

Of course, both groups need to partner with the exploratory testing teams. It’s how to drive the last mile of quality through testing and analytic insights. Invest in these analytics — as a team — and use the insights to drive the next iterations. Iterations help you maximize your opportunities for excellence back into the development cycle.  

Performance, monitoring, stability. All are required analytics to guarantee that what you build together in the next sprint will be even better. Practicing this is how bring your A-game when you need it.

Joanna Schloss is Senior VP of Product Marketing at SmartBear and has more than 20 years of experience successfully transforming and evolving both global 500 companies and startups. She has extensive knowledge in big data analytics and business intelligence and has launched a variety of tools and applications for various companies, including Confluent, IBM, and Oracle, among others.





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