Backlog Grooming Best Practice: Effective Communication

by August 27, 2018

A ‘Must Do’ Backlog Grooming Best Practice: Communicate

When I think about times in my life where problems have arisen due to miscommunication, it is almost never the case that I communicated too much. Lack of communication is the usually the cause of my misunderstandings. Even if two people have completely different ways of thinking, they can usually come to an agreement if they just talk long enough. The problem is that in today’s age time is a commodity that we don’t have much of, especially when it comes to delivering software. In this blog will discuss a backlog grooming best practice centered around addressing the harmful affects of miscommunication and how model-based testing can help.

Typical Miscommunication

Unfortunately, the people most susceptible to letting things slip through the cracks are the people that know you best. When working in a team where triumph and strife is shared, it can be easy for team members to assume others know what they are thinking. This obviously leads to a habit that contradicts this important backlog grooming best practice – our natural tendency to not relay all information that might be necessary to properly achieve a goal. Likewise, if teams are siloed and never talk to each other, you never get to know how other teams best receive information. This double-edged sword continues to drive pain into testing team’s sides as the confusion lingers throughout the development lifecycle.

Results of miscommunication

Some teams might be better than others, but more often than not unclear information has had some negative impact on your software development lifecycle. The most common scenario is that all members involved in the delivery of the application don’t fully understand what is required of the end product. Business analysts and product owners decide what features need to be added to an application, so they start writing down what is required to bring those ideas to fruition. These requirements can then be passed to developers who are left to their own devices to interpret a text description of changes. Frequently, these new changes aren’t implemented correctly which contributes to Backlog Grooming challenges because fixes can’t be introduced before a sprints end, thus the need for adoption of the right backlog grooming best practice or two. Similarly, testers aren’t quite clear how the application is supposed to work and don’t always test the needed scenarios. So not only are features in backlog, but defects are leaking through and impacting user experience. Employee time, money spent on resources and sanity are all strained because of a proper explanation not being given in the first place. Not to mention that when requirements change mid-sprint, these results are exponentially magnified. Hence, the importance of effective communication as a backlog grooming best practice precisely to avoid this miscommunication pitfall.

Addressing The Miscommunication Challenge

So, are we left to a life of rework and aggravation? Not, when you account for communicating effectively as a backlog grooming best practice. Let’s take a deeper look at how the solution looks like. The solution begins by changing the way requirements are translated across teams. Instead of locking business analysts, developers and testers in a room until all questions are hashed out there is a more repeatable and efficient method. Model-Based Testing is the idea of representing different features and permutations in an active flow.

Backlog Grooming Best Practice

How Model-Based Testing Can Improve Backlog Grooming Communication

Building out a model as a backlog grooming best practice encourages flawless communication because there is only a single source of truth for all teams to refer to.

Several benefits result from maintaining your application requirements in this way as a backlog grooming best practice. The first and most obvious one is being able to eliminate any ambiguity surrounding the creation of requirements. If all teams are on the same page, then any defect that would result from the wrong thing being developed or tested, would be eliminated.

Another benefit to maintaining a model as backlog grooming best practice, rather than all artifacts separately, is having the ability to begin test creation as soon as the changes for that sprint have been decided upon. This allows resources to be less constrained and testers to have more time to thoroughly test the application. Instead of having to wait until the end of the sprint to see what needs to be tested, the QA team is empowered to prioritize and align materials.

Finally, change management becomes a comfortable task rather than a burden. Typically when a new feature is implemented, an entire evaluation is required to determine what is no longer valid. This repetitive task constricts a tester ability to think freely and work efficiently. Developing a model as a backlog grooming best practice does the work for you and updates anything that is no longer valid on the fly.

These advantages and many others continue to grow with the investment and utilization of model-based testing as time goes on. Each team functions a little differently, and the way they tackle industry challenges is unique. Having a common platform eliminates wasted time spent attempting to interpret information being passed by people working towards the same goal. This enables software development teams to focus on delivering the best possible software to their end users.

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