Oct 17, 2006

Agile Communication Barrier

I really had to go back years down and re-collect my commerce courseware to get to know what is a communication barrier... we have so many Voice, Place, Mode, Time and what not... but all this wasnt much relevant to me until a last few years of my professional life when I realized that you really need to be proactive to avoid the communication barriers ... Now your question here is correct .. why the hell I am talking about communication barriers in a blog where Agile is the topic .. So Yes .. I want to talk about the Agility in the Software process and the communication barriers ..

So the reason I was provoked to write this blog was a wierd but best example of mis or undercommunication in a software process...so the issue here is that we got a requirement from our heldesk office instead of the regular product Management Team .. ofcourse helpdesk are very much closely dealing with the product Management team, you can say they are a virtual part of the same team.. so the requirement was driven completly by the helpdesk and that the Quality Control team and the development Team were in constant touch with the helpdesk demo'ed the features and functionalities etc to them ... everything at one point closer to the sprint end was agreed and the dev, Project Management,Product management, helpdesk were all on a same page until a small change was logged in by the helpdesk that was logged with the QA. The QA being the sole contact point between the business and the dev team got the issue to the project Management and then it was decided that this issue needs to be escalated .. The QA , Business and the helpdesk went into transitions of discussion and finalised that the requirement was no longer valid.. however this issue was also raised with dev .. and the project management asked the dev to see the effort required.. but unfortunately the dev team fixed the issue as per the changes asked by helpdesk and then it was informed to them at the last day of sprint that the requirement is not really required...

Now who is the Ideally accountable person here?

Well I dont see any point in accountablity or liability ... but all I could see is a better process should have being followed here... Better process in the sense:

1. The Product Management and the helpdesk work very very closely to finalise any requirements and the scenarios.
2. The QA deals with the scenarios and bring the business and the product management on a same page.
3. The Project Management decides what to do and what not to do.
4. The dev team sits idle till they ar einformed to proceed with the solution provided they are given enough requirement specification/time.
5. The QA , Project management and the product Management meets to discuss the impact.
6. The Project Management , dev and QA meets to discuss the effect on the existing work. Not only this but there are more things to it .. now when I try to review the process I find these things to be a main cause:

1. Bug Tracking: Not enough usage of the bug tracking mechanism. The QA should be very effective here.. the moment they come across a scenario where the requirements are tweaked / changing / changes suggested or bugs reported in the demo they have to take a proactive measure to raise the issue.

2. Enough Project Management: The point of contact being the QA the responsibility of the project Management increases to be more interactive with the QA not only for status but also for demos and requirement analysis.

3. Better change Management: The process needs to be improved to make sure that change management is dealt between known project point of contacts.

4. Adulteration of process : The process should be used and streamlined in terms of roles... i.e. QA getting in the role of Quality Control and Assurance.., PM in the change management and proces tracking, Project Lead in code control and developers in devlopment .

Most of these things are really known to us to be honest the only difference is this is just one instance when the breakdown happens inspite of things known to us...

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