Is colocation needed? The Agile testing methodology was constituted to address the inadequacies of the waterfall method and to deliver a qualitatively superior product to the customer. It envisages better coordination and communication between the development and testing teams. In fact, the Agile manifesto underlines the importance of ‘close, daily cooperation between business people and developers.’ So, if we go by the manifesto, then the colocation of developers and testers is key to the success of agile testing.
However, some may argue that colocation is overrated and in today’s context where the distributed way of working has become the need of the hour, it can be dispensed with. In a globally connected digital space where teams may be separated by geography and time zones, colocation need not be the absolute way of doing things. In fact, with advances in video conferencing and ERP software, teams can continue to work as per their charter and deliver outcomes as sought by Agile. So, even though the digital landscape and the way teams work have evolved a long way since Agile was instituted, colocated teams have certain advantages. Before delving into them, let us first understand what a colocated team is all about.
What is a colocated team?
It is a team working on a project concurrently and present in the same location or workspace. Even though in today’s gig economy such a team can be an anachronism, it nevertheless has some benefits. Further, with teleworking or remote working gaining currency, attributes like speedy collaboration and transparency can take a back seat. However, the meaning of colocation has changed. It is no longer about sharing a physical space but a digital space as well with real-time conversations taking place through audio-visual means. To meet the requirements of today’s and future work scenarios, the connotation of colocation can be expanded by including the agile software suites. Such suites can allow conversations, sharing of resources, the conduct of SCRUM meetings, simultaneous editing, and monitoring stories at the click of a button. So, notwithstanding the ever-expanding influence of distributed or remote working, colocation helps when it comes to agile application testing.
Agile testing strategy and the role of colocation teams
To achieve the benefits of agile software testing, teams working on a project need to be better integrated and monitored. And the presence of colocation teams can truly be of help.
Facilitates communication: Enterprises following the agile way of software development should adopt the agile testing methodology. Here, continuous communication and collaboration are accepted as a pre-condition for success. It goes without saying that communication becomes seamless and quick when teams share a similar workspace. Just imagine members waiting to confirm their views on chat or email when working remotely. This can be time-consuming, not to speak of creating bottlenecks and confusion in executing the scope of work.
Familiarity leads to better results: In a colocated workspace, the team members are mostly known to each other. This leads to better cohesion in the work culture where members shall not shy away from consulting each other when needed. This is of utmost importance for agile testing specialists as they have to converse with the developers as part of the SCRUM. Unless there is communication between teams, activities like brainstorming, planning, and problem solving can take a backseat.
Streamlines the value chain: Teams working in close confines or even following the expanded form of colocation using video conferencing and other agile software, can have discussions and sort out issues instantaneously. Thus, instead of waiting for the person sitting in a different time zone to respond, the colocated team members can take quick decisions, sort out bottlenecks, and streamline the production pipeline.
Better team management: While establishing any Agile testing framework the stakeholders need to monitor the working of the team. A distributed team would be difficult to monitor given the time zone difference and lack of face-to-face interaction.
Cost savings: A colocated team will be better managed and have less scope for confusion. As a result, things will move faster in the value chain leading to better productivity, efficiency, quality, and time-to-market. Since the development and testing will be relatively smoother thanks to better communication between the teams, glitches can be identified and fixed early. Further, given that there will be lesser scope for rework, the business can save costs.
The enterprises of today are outsourcing their work leading to the formation of distributed teams working across time zones. Even though modern communication systems have made distances redundant, the benefits of a colocated team, especially in the agile context cannot be understated.