At Planon we started with distributed teams in 2008. We use the set up discussed in a white paper of Jeff Surtherland.
The theme of TestNet 2009 Fall Event was Testing in different worlds. We created a presentation to present our experiences with distributed testing in a distributed scrum environment. My colleague send in the paper and was selected to give her presentation.
Planon develops a standard software suite and has adapted Scrum four years ago. To extend its software development capacity, Planon has recruited new staff in Hyderabad, India. Currently, seven out of nine teams are working in a distributed manner, i.e. one or more team members are located in India. The split is straight down the middle, not role-based. On average, half of the developers and testers are located in the Netherlands, and the other half is located in India.
Most challenges apply to the whole team, but some apply to the testers in particular. In India, the hierarchy in software development is much stronger, where the testers usually are at the bottom. Communication lines are long, with a lot of managers in between the developer and the tester. In our Scrum teams, all members are equal and the team manages itself. For our new Indian colleagues, that proved to be quite a “culture shock”.
We covered this issue while recruiting Indian testers; we assessed the candidates’ ability to adjust to our way of working. After a first selection (primarily focused on language), the candidates participated in a hands-on workshop with practical cases, which uncovered their communication and teamwork skills. Planon now employs eleven Indian testers.
Distributed testing also has logistical challenges: our nightly and continuous build processes provide the tester with new software versions regularly, but getting that software quickly to the other side of the world is difficult.