Can Governance and Agile Get Along?

Paul Carvalho is dedicated to helping development teams deliver high levels of quality with confidence. He inspires collaborative, agile, test-infected teams with a holistic approach to quality. Paul launched the company, Quality Driven Inc, to bring his quality development experience and knowledge to individuals and organizations through consulting, training, coaching, writing and speaking internationally. Paul is passionate about understanding human ecosystems for delivering great products that satisfy and delight customers, which he finds to be a natural fit with the agile community. Connect with him through Quality-Driven.com and say hello on Twitter @can_test.

Traditional testing practices are the hands that slow agile teams to a stagnant, waterfall state. Testing itself isn’t bad or anti-agile. How you think about testing can make or break your agile success though.

For companies building solutions in regulated industries, fear of innovating on traditional testing practices will likely lead to the undesired outcome of poor quality solutions. Negative outcomes reinforce the fear of innovating, and leadership may choose to side with recommendations from legal and governance groups rather than development teams advocating newer testing practices that require new skills, tools and culture changes.

Can governance and agile get along? Yes. But you cannot start your agile journey from your familiar waterfall practices and status quo; no ship ever left a harbor while firmly tied to a pier. Similarly, your traditional testing practices anchor you to waterfall—no matter how many Scrum ceremonies you adopt.

The Challenges
An organization working in a regulated industry (healthcare, finance, etc.) has several masters. There is the organizational leadership, and there are external agencies that will shut you down if you create the potential to harm the general public. Naturally, this puts some stress on your corporate leadership as no one wants an outsider to come into their home and shut down operations.

To keep things …

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