As teams transform to a more agile approach and the Dev Cells push for greater autonomy, how do we still ensure that the test discipline can continue to drive best practice and ensure alignment to an overarching strategy? In this new way of working people are looking to remove the ineffective line management style of ‘command and control’, and replace it by a more engaging model of coaching and mentoring. Allowing decisions to be made where the work is actually getting done rather than through a structure that may not understand the challenges the team faces.
One possible solution is to build the concept of a CoP (Community of Practice). Defined as: – a group of people who share a craft and/or a profession. They share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. It can be comprised of cross-functional expertise from across the teams.
Some people may ask that if the testers are fully embedded in the dev cell then why bother with the CoP at all, just let the team be fully autonomous and decide on their own strategy. But if we take this approach and allow people to be in silos, away from their peers, then how do they build on their skills and how can they continually improve test methodologies?
The CoP is there to provide access to a knowledge hub and test best practice, to provide training and coaching to the test function without excess layers of line management. It is there to initiate new topics of conversation and innovation in how we approach testing. It is there to facilitate cross team learning where the good initiatives from one team can be replicated over to another, upskilling the team and providing a method to learn from others. We need to ensure that testers are given the time, from their Dev Cells, to spend with the CoP and build their skills.
People should have an idea on what challenges they may face in both setting up a CoP and in how best to work within one. A tester within a Dev Cell should feel more empowered to request time to spend building their skills and gaining the mastery needed to improve. People should have new ideas on career progression within a CoP where attaining skills is revered over consultant style seniority levels.