They are still around: large projects that are delivered by a mix of on-site and off-site ressources. And there are companies around who embrace this delivery model. Sometimes in the testing scene, you do not dare to admit if you are “still stuck” in such an environment. At the StugHH we had a “brave” speaker (David Stratmann from CGI) who dared to give a presentation about his work situation, called: “Testfactory im Einsatz – Testen von Software-Großprojekten mit Offshoring” (test factory in action, testing large software projects applying offshoring).
As a little side note: it was interesting to see, that the audience was rather different than in our previous StugHH events. I met a whole lot of “new” great folks. What specific kind of people would come to what kind of event? And what is uniting us beyond the obvious thrive for quality?
Working with Off-site Colleagues
David gave a great presentation basically covering two topics: how to work with colleagues who work in Bangalore, and how to test (and improve testing) in a large scale testing project.
Maybe you noticed I changed wording from “ressources” to “colleagues”. This basically is the bottom line I got from David’s talk. Think of what you would want when people work with you: respect for your knowledge and your culture. Do the same, and if you do not know how, go and find out. It is as simple as that, and it is successful if mutual. My experience is on top that you can be brave and behave unexpectedly, as long you explain it and react in a sensitive way if you feel insecurity with your colleagues. And remember learning is successful if mutual. And it is most successful if the learner understands the benefits. Just what you always should consider with anybody. But how to to learn what you need to know?
Get to Know Each Other
For David, it was a great basis to go to India and work with the team, better than having people from Indida come here. But there are situations where also the latter can be good. My experience is also, that especially in order to gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s business, it is relevant to be close to the customer. For anybody. I guess that is one of the aspects why agile people ideally want a team including customer in one site. Why shouldn’t this hold just the same for off-shore testers?
Sometimes you have to find other means to improve communication. For example in David’s context it was important to get testers and developers talk to each other, the latter not in India. This really took off after a “techie tool” was created to enable both sides to have a joint starting point when talking about potential bugs.
Talking about quality assurance in large scale projects, David showed different aspects of required quality in the context of maritime logistics for maintenance and new projects. This included test of some application transformation of old, non documented software and also the development of little helpers for the testing team that would make work more efficient.
Without getting into details of David’s talk, one question came up to me only after the evening ended: would a distributed qa team with testers inside cross functional teams be able to reach such general improvements and increases of quality of work? What do you think?