Is there a Golden Ratio - Number of Test Specialists per development Specialist in an Agile Team

Every cross functional Agile Team has a set of specialists who pitch in at various time to ensure a backlog is ready to be customer shippable sprint by sprint. These could be development specialists, test specialists, documentation specialists, operations specialists, business analysts and other specializations. As in mathematics the ratio of each of these is critical to the success of any sprint as their skills lend expertise and learning to others. In this session we explore if the number of devlopment specialist to test specialist within a cross functional agile team has a golden ratio? In this experience report what will be covered is learnings from scenarios where there is no test specialist in the team to a ratio where number of test specialists are more than development specialists. What will be covered are examples of sample ratios and the good and the bad of these ratios to an actual scenario. The implications of getting this ratio are discussed not just from product development but from a financial, people and type of company (startup, enterprise, service, product). In the end the session should help product owners, scrum masters and scrum team members get a insight into this crucial element of any agile project.

 
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Learning Outcome

Attendees will walk away with knowledge on what options exist wrt building a cross functional agile team wrt test specialist to development specialist ratio. Attendees will also walk away with some best practices for the same.

Target Audience

Product Owners, Scrum Team members

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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  • Tathagat Varma
    By Tathagat Varma  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    Deba - thanks for the proposal. From the proposal and the deck, it is not clear if this an experience report, by which we expect proposers to have actually implemented something and then try to share the key insights in a report. From your proposal, it is not celar if that is case, and if yes, maybe the context in term of domain and the busines criticality, etc. might be helpful. Can you share your perspectives on that?

     

    • DEBASHIS BANERJEE
      By DEBASHIS BANERJEE  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply

      Sure tathagat, The proposal is based on 4 actual product experiences I've worked on at my last 3 companies (one with a large telecom vendor, one an internet giant and an enterprise company). The insights are based on it. Without revealing too much about them since some of the technology details are bound under confidentiality here is the info that is the basis.

      The slide "Some examples of actual use" is based on

      0 qa:2 dev is based on a prototyping project we did at a internet giant where due to the nature of the product we were given a mandate to create a new method of technically driving things. At that point we had no funding and had to do things in a agile way to deliver things rapidly with only developers and gaining company support.

      1qa :8 devis basd again on a work in an internet giant where we were specifically given a mandate to work with this ratio and had to work on things I've stated in slide "Decision Factors" and "Should this ratio even matter" as practices in terms of automation, planning, dev picking qa, qa picking dev.

      1qa:1 dev is based on a equipment heavy work i had done in a product where a lot of the testing was equipment sensitive and resulted in the insights below

      2 qa:1 dev is based on a product we were doing moving one particular infrastructure technology to another and work in on a feature in sprints. the engineering changes were more result of test heavily then fix changes so at planning phases we chose this type of qa to dev ratio.

      Each of these products were business critical and order of 10s of millions of dollars of impact on a year.  Hope this helps? If additional info is required please let me know.

  • Naresh Jain
    By Naresh Jain  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    This is an important question many companies have. Thanks for proposaing this topic, Debashish.

    Is there an article/blog where I can read more about your experience on this topic? I'm looking for key insights.

    Also is there any structured research done on this topic (by yourself or others) and do you plan to map (or have already mapped) your experience with it?

    Thanks.

    • DEBASHIS BANERJEE
      By DEBASHIS BANERJEE  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Naresh, I shall send you the slides and details for this I plan to cover at the email id in the singature of your mail you sent. Hope thats ok? I havent written any external blogs on this but the examples and key insights are results of actual products. Should I be sending the info in a different way please let me know and I shall do the needful.

      Debashis

      • Naresh Jain
        By Naresh Jain  ~  2 years ago
        reply Reply

        Please update the problem with the relevant links so that the entire review committee can also see the material.

        • DEBASHIS BANERJEE
          By DEBASHIS BANERJEE  ~  2 years ago
          reply Reply

          I have updated the proposal with the link to proposed slides. Happy to make changes as per feedback.

          http://www.slideshare.net/debashisb/is-there-a-golden-ratio-test-specialist-to-developer-in-an-agile-team

          The slide deck is without animation so recommend program panel download the slide and view for better readability

  • Srinath Chandrasekharan
    By Srinath Chandrasekharan  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Debashish,

     

    Can you add more contents on the # 2 as mentioned in your proposal

    Regards,

    Srinath

    • DEBASHIS BANERJEE
      By DEBASHIS BANERJEE  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Srinath, thanks for your request for info. Here is more information on #2 for review. Should you need more info I would be happy to provide.

      #2. 12 minutes (3 minutes each scenario): Experience report of teams with various rations (a) no test spcialist (b) 1:8 (c) 1:1 (d) 2:1 i.e. x test specialist : y development specialists

      Here is the high level outline of what I intend to cover in each scenario

      For any Dev:Test Ratio the some following are determining factors - I intend to use examples from my experience to qualify each during speaking

       

      • Type of Product (Device heavy vs Completely software vs Network Equipment based)
      • Process and Amount of Current Automation (Unit, Functional, Integration, Deployment, Post deployment, programming skills of test engineers)

      • Skill availability (for certain specialized skills getting test engineers with the skills may be more difficult)

      • Type of engagement (e.g. mission critical systems may need more failsafe, a service based engagement may need customer validation)

      • Scrum team locations (it may sometimes be adjust for co-location to get benefits of agile)

      • Company Culture (in certain organizations a particular role has end to end responsibility from code to deployment and test specialist as a role might be different)

      • Role fungibility (in smaller orgs there may be no designated test specialist and roles are determined by need of the sprint)

      • Nature of the development (in some cases some types of features naturally lead to greater test combinations than development implementation which could be reusable across)

      In the examples (a) no test spcialist (b) 1:8 (c) 1:1 (d) 2:1 i.e. x test specialist : y development specialists

      In (a) I will cover a brand new greenfield technology method where there was an intent to test a technology approach among a controlled set of users and then decide. Also will cover a scenario in a scrum team when the only test engineer goes on leave and how team did a sprint without a designated test specialist

      (b) In b will cover a team where the organization chose a ratio of 1:8 for a set of products and how this forced us to adjust the criterias above to succeed (in internet space)

      © In c will cover a scenario in enterprise space where we had 1:1 test to dev mainly due to the nature of testing required which was equipment heavy

      (d) In d will cover a scenario where we had more test engineers than developers due to nature of the development

       

      • Srinath Chandrasekharan
        By Srinath Chandrasekharan  ~  2 years ago
        reply Reply

        Thanks Debashish. Looks interesting. Just wondering if so much of informaiton can be packed in 20 minutes. 

        • DEBASHIS BANERJEE
          By DEBASHIS BANERJEE  ~  2 years ago
          reply Reply

          hi srinath, I tried to adapt it to the time slot given, The way I was planning to cover this was via a compare and contrast where each parameter (e.g. nature of development)) would be explained in the context (e.g. device centric means more towards 1:1)  of the example scenarios I described giving a eventual singular view. Thus the ratio examples are points within each parameter. Having said that should the review committee think differently and allot me more time I'm happy to adapt. Debashis

  • Evan Leybourn
    By Evan Leybourn  ~  2 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Debashis, 

    This is an interesting topic, but from your description we think it would be better suited to the Agile in the Trenches theme. If you agree, could you edit your proposal and move it there. 

    Thanks

    Evan

    • DEBASHIS BANERJEE
      By DEBASHIS BANERJEE  ~  2 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks Evan, moving it to Agile in the Trenches theme.