Using “Tribes” to successfully implement Agile

As the Agile software development methodology continues to mature, companies are beginning to leverage new and interesting strategies to implement the concept at their shops. Introducing something as revolutionary as Agile can be a difficult task with older, more entrenched IT teams. Even as the movement celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, it still seems foreign to development teams used to the Waterfall and other traditional methodologies.

Some shops are beginning to organize their development, QA, and business stakeholder teams into groups known as Squads, Tribes, Chapters, and Guilds to better facilitate the collaboration and communication vital for a successful Agile transition. Let’s take a look at this concept to see if it makes sense for your company.

Defining Agile Tribes and Squads

This new method for organizing teams in an Agile shop first evolved at the music streaming company, Spotify. The smallest group in their organizational structure is known as a Squad, led by a Product Owner. They tend to sit together; work closely on the same projects, and typically include developers, testers, and business analysts.

A Tribe is made up of a collection of Squads which share space in a common area. For example, a company’s mobile software development Tribe contains separate Squads responsible for iOS, Android, and other mobile platforms. The Tribe Leader facilitates an environment where each Squad is able to collaborate and share findings with each other, but they aren’t necessarily working on the same projects.

Chapters and Guilds help develop the Individual and the Organization

Chapters are independent entities within the overall structure that group employees based on their actual job duties. Many shops will have a Developer Chapter, QA Chapter, Business Analyst Chapter, and so on. A Chapter Lead essentially serves as the direct manager for everyone in their chapter when it comes to salary reviews, skills development, etc.

Guilds are another, less formal, structure inside the organization that are similar to chapters in that they include employees from different tribes, but are instead focused on specific areas of interest, like web development, Agile coaching, etc. The Guild Coordinator serves as the leader. They support the technical growth of the organization by researching new ideas while sharing found insights, code examples, best practices, and more.

There is a separate operations team for handling network and server administration at Spotify, but enterprises already embracing DevOps can easily include employees in that role into relevant Squads and Tribes. In that scenario, creating Chapters and Guilds specifically for those workers also makes perfect sense.

A Constantly Evolving Structure

Spotify uses quarterly surveys and regular dependency reviews to ensure their organizational structure is successfully meeting the needs of the business. This helps to mitigate any clashes and redundancies between individual Tribes and Squads. Additionally, the scope of daily Scrums is able to expand by including more Squads if required on larger products.

Ultimately, these innovative managerial efforts by Spotify and other firms illustrate how embracing the Agile methodology — albeit combined with the organizational changes more typical of DevOps — lets enterprises reach new heights by fostering a highly efficient software development process.

Come back to the Betica Blog for additional insights from the world of software development.

News from the Worlds of Software Development and QA — June 2016

As June draws to a close, here are a few interesting stories from the related worlds of software development and QA. If you want to check out last month’s news, simply click on this link. Hopefully, this month’s edition offers some insights relevant to your daily development and testing work.

Need QA for Continuous Deployment? Enter Continuous Testing.

We’ve talked previously about the growing adoption of Agile and DevOps methodologies by companies hoping to gain a competitive advantage through faster software development. Many of these firms strive for a continuous deployment model where software enhancements happen at a rapid pace.

So how does the QA process keep up? Enter continuous testing.

Many forward-looking companies are beginning to leverage continuous testing to ensure software gets released at a speed letting them successfully compete in the modern business landscape. Ashley Dotterweich recently talked about the emerging practice for DevOps Zone. Faster release cycles, better code, and ultimately a decreased risk of production failures are its major impacts.

One of the key steps in implementing continuous testing involves shifting QA to the left. In short, this involves starting testing earlier in the software development process in the hope of catching problems at a point before a fix becomes too costly. Some would argue a QA presence also needs to be involved during the requirements gathering and design phases.

The use of a continuous integration server infrastructure to execute unit tests also facilitates the implementation of continuous testing. Other forms of automated testing need to be considered as part of a migration to this new testing model. It is something worth considering for organizations hoping to achieve continuous deployment.

Game Development Shops want Standardized Testing Practices

A myriad of AAA video games suffering from high profile bugs and server hiccups over the last year has led to a call for standardized QA practices in the industry. James Batchelor covered the growing issue in a recent post on Develop, a game industry website. Many testing managers in gaming feel standards are vital for keeping (or regaining) the trust of video gamers. 

Testology CEO, Andy Robson, commented on the growing problem caused by a lack of QA standards. “Why do we think it is acceptable to release games that don’t meet the quality level consumers expect? We should have a standard where no Class A bugs are released in a product along with Class B bugs, whether functional or LOC issues. Class C bugs are always going to be in games, but don’t affect the experience, so we could be more lenient,” said Robson.

Stay tuned to see if their efforts at standardized QA are successful.

Is Software Development only for the Young?

A recent study noted the average age for the software developer is under 30. Nick Heath, writing for Tech Republic, wondered if this was due to a glut of new programmers entering the industry or if older developers are leaving? Natalia Radcliffe-Brine, marketing manager at Stack Overflow feels it is the former trend.

“I don’t think it’s that the older developers aren’t there anymore, I think there’s been momentum around technology and you’ve got so many more young people going into computer science,” said Radcliffe-Brine. Whatever the reason behind the hard data, there’s no denying the right mixture between younger workers excited about the industry and the wisdom of veteran developers is a smart call when building an efficient development team.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the world of software development and testing.

Try EnterpriseDB for a Business Class PostgreSQL Implementation

We recently discussed PostgreSQL here at the Betica Blog, which offers enterprises an open source database option to Oracle with similar performance specs. While open source software provides significant cost savings compared to proprietary applications, some companies worry about relative the lack of support. This makes it difficult to consider it as an alternative.

But what if it was possible to combine the lower cost of the open source world with the support and other features typical of commercial software? If you are considering PostgreSQL as a database solution, checking out EnterpriseDB also makes perfect sense. This company’s service offerings make the leap into open source databases an easier proposition.

A Closer Look at EnterpriseDB

EnterpriseDB formed in 2004 with the purpose of building a commercial product on top of an open source database. They chose PostgreSQL based on its active developer community and an already existing array of commercial deployments. The company currently boasts thousands of customers, from giant firms like ABN AMRO Bank and Sony to a host of smaller and medium-sized businesses.

Enterprise DB Product Offerings

EnterpriseDB’s main product is EDB Postgres, which comes in Developer, Standard, and Enterprise editions. All three editions include a version of PostgreSQL as well as tools to handle replication, backup and recovery, migration, and monitoring. Companies looking for the superior performance of Postgres Advanced Server need to choose the EDB Postgres Enterprise.

The Enterprise edition also provides additional functionality not offered by the other two versions. This includes additional security and performance enhancements, as well as added features suitable for your developers and/or DBAs. Full compatibility with Oracle rounds out the feature set.

Fresh software updates in addition to security alerts and fixes are also part of each package. Companies preferring to forego investing in their own on-premises data center need to check out EnterpriseDB’s Cloud DBaaS option. Postgres Plus Cloud Database offers both cost savings and seamless scalability, leveraging the Amazon EC2 platform.

Commercial Support for an Open Source Database

One of the main selling points of EnterpriseDB, or any commercial offering built on top of an open source product, is its production level support. This is vital for firms with mission-critical, public facing database applications. EnterpriseDB offers premium production support for the Standard and Enterprise Editions and even includes a measure of non-production support for the Developer Edition.

The production quality support boasts a 24 x 7 service level with a response goal of one hour. Phone, email, and remote access options are all provided with an unlimited number of incidents. The company also provides a robust supply of web-accessible documentation, including PDF manuals, a knowledge base, and a software archive. 

Since PostgreSQL is known for its developer community; don’t forget using it as a source for technical advice or to get any pressing questions answered.

If your organization hopes to replace its commercial proprietary database and is considering an open source solution, EnterpriseDB with its added security, performance, and support offers the best of both worlds. It is a product worthy of your consideration.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for future dispatches from the world of software development and QA.