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Agile Part 2: Know Your Quality

Jason Toyne
3/14/16 2:47 PM

As I mention in Agile Part 1, we all know that features sell solutions or products but if those feature don’t work it will leave a long lasting bad taste in our customer’s mouths. As such, I heavily focus on quality. In general, there are three distinct quality areas I look at: 

1. Quality of work in progressThinkstockPhotos-495559308.jpg

In a separate blog I spoke about quality control starting before the quality control phase of the project. This important concept allows early understanding of the quality of the work product and reduces or eliminates the management surprises that can often occur at release time.I use a density approach for this analysis. Density is determined by team hours spent as related to the number of review findings or defects found requiring remediation. I keep track of this information at the Release and Sprint level. If I start to see the density get out of bounds I can use that as an entry point with the Scrum Master to understand if there is anything I can do to support the team.

2. Quality in User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

The Kingland SDLC has a stage where we turn the solution we have built over to the customer to perform customer testing. We call this UAT. UAT is a very important quality stage because it is often the first time the customer has actually used the release functionality without the Kingland team’s direct involvement.

A defect in UAT will often require discussions with the customer to explain root cause and planned next steps. These customer interactions are sometimes the hardest for the team due to the stress of the situation. I attempt to be involved with these conversations because it allows me to coach and support the team and the customer during what is probably the most stressful stage of the release.

At the end of the UAT cycle I also compare our performance against previous releases. I use a density approach for this analysis as well. Density is determined by team hours spent as related to defects found. This is a great opportunity to understand if changes we’ve made in our process are improving our overall quality. We also share this information with our customer and use it as a catalyst for what we call the “lessons learned” session where the team and the customer meet and talk about when went well and what didn’t. These sessions often lead to great improvement approaches that we weave into our SDLC for future release.

3. Quality in Production

The quality of the Kingland solution in production is paramount. As such, I monitor for production defects daily. If a production defect occurs, I work with our Support Lead, Product Owner and Scrum Master to understand the severity of the defect and to ensure that we are following our communication plan and that the customer is being communicated to appropriately. This is also a great opportunity to protect the team from other distractions so that they can focus on resolving the potential problem.

Like the end of UAT, I also compare our Production performance against previous releases. I use a density approach for this analysis as well. Density is determined by team hours spent as related to defects found and just like UAT we share this information with our customers and use it to drive changes that can be made to improve our process.

In summary, I believe the use of these techniques will empower your team’s excellence and allow you as the leader to provide coaching and support where necessary. Give these techniques a try and I’m sure you will see great results.

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