It’s been an insightful couple of weeks. I’ve been in the UK training our ‘on-shore’ testers and test managers in the same context driven testing principles that I teach to the Asia-based teams who work with them.

That’s given me a unique and advantageous viewpoint, so I thought I’d share it here.

When I teach about context driven testing in Asia, the response i hear is usually “we get it, we know it will work, but our ‘on-shore’ teams won’t let us use the approach. They demand scripts”. 
What I’m hearing is they don’t feel valued enough that their ideas will be taken seriously, so they don’t speak up.

Now I’ve been teaching CDT to those UK teams. They also get it, they see how it could work, but they don’t think their teams in Asia are prepared to let go of the scripts. And perhaps if we’re blatantly honest, some of them don’t trust their ‘off-shore’ testers enough to try something new…
The result : We all stick with the tried (should that be ‘tired’) and tested ‘death (of intellect) by scripts’ approach.

Too long have we followed a cycle…
The ideas get generated on-shore, only half of that knowledge is passed offshore and then projects wonder why those testers don’t do as good a job as ‘the old team’ would have. The cynic in me fears this could sometimes be in the hope that if the offshore team fail, the work will be brought back onshore. Most companies have enough examples of successful projects now for us to realise that is not going to happen. I recall an inspirational (or kick up the butt) quote from one of my Managing Directors… “If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance a whole lot less”. 

It’s very easy to put the blame elsewhere, to attempt to deflect responsibility for owning and driving the change, to say it won’t work without even trying. In my opinion, both ‘sides’ should take responsibility, but especially the test manager.
So let me get off my soapbox and propose a radical solution …. 

“Build TRUST”
How can we build trust? 
1. By regular communication!
And by the one thing anyone who works with me may now be sick of hearing…..
2. By demonstrating (and demanding …and coaching for) excellent test analysis skills!
So for efficiency… Why not combine the 2?

With each additional project team I work with, I see the benefits of conducting group analysis sessions. This is achieved by the whole team brainstorming test approaches & coverage. Even better if this is guided by a heuristic test strategy model (yet again, I pass credit to James Bach’s model which i use extensively and you can find here )

Lets stop using geography and culture as an excuse …. And start collaborating.
We are doing this to great effect in my company, across the miles, via basic tele-conference / screen sharing technology. 
Let me share a specific example… A team were asked to send the test automation tasks to an offshore team (yes I know this in itself warrants a whole other blog post! Anyway…). For a year, they struggled. They gave walkthroughs and passed detailed manual scripts to the automation team, yet every deadline was missed and the quality of the automated scripts delivered was so bad, it was taking more effort to resolve than to test the system manually. 
After attending my training on brainstorming, the Test Lead took a new approach. She got the ‘offshore’ automation team and the ‘onshore’ test ‘SME’s’ on one call. In a 90 minute meeting they :

  1. Had the SME give an overview of the system
  2. Asked the automation team to propose an automation approach
  3. Had the automation team perform a quick POC to check for any aspects which would be complex to automate
  4. Agreed the automation scope, approach and estimates

The result : the automation team delivered working scripts, before the agreed deadline and to the quality required. And without the need for the costly rework cycles of prior deliveries. 
But this was the same team and the same application, so what changed? 
The change was in the leadership style which allowed the collaboration of all team members! Which resulted in better understanding of the task, improved morale, buy-in and therefore willing ownership for the delivery from the ‘off-shore’ team.

So get your team together, across the miles, and brainstorm
You’ll gain appreciation for the diverse skills in your team, the wealth of ideas that you can generate together, you will increase the knowledge of the whole team, you’ll deliver faster and with improved quality, you’ll go home with a sense of achievement. And before you know it, you might even trust each other…whatever time zone you’re in!