The word “scaling” can have various meanings, depending on context. When the term is used in reference to software development, the nuances become even greater.

Example: QA expert and author Johanna Rothman asks in a recent article whether managers in agile testing should “scale” agile testing to help multiple teams deliver products. Her answer: an emphatic “No.” Why?

“Scaling process leads to bloat. Instead of scaling process, scale collaboration.”

Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman

Rothman was among the invited speakers at the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference last October in Portland, OR. XBOSoft Founder and CEO Philip Lew was also among presenters at the conference; he and Rothman both hosted workshops on the conference’s final day. She presented earlier on the topic of agile testing.

The two QA experts frequently cross paths as they address audiences around the globe on matters related to software quality. That’s why, when we noticed the recent agile testing article authored by Rothman, we thought we’d share it on  our blog, in the spirit of camaraderie and sharing important thoughts from quality assurance leaders.

Rothman’s article identifies three “fatal flaws” in project and program frameworks, particularly when agile testing is involved. They are:

1. Frameworks create recipes that don’t work for everyone

The first problem scaling frameworks have is that they try to force the program into one way to accomplish the work. That prevents teams from delivering in a way that makes sense for the product. “Instead of recipes, try principles and experiments. You hired smart people. Use them,” says Rothman.

2. Frameworks reinforce hierarchies

The second problem is that frameworks reinforce hierarchies. “Information — including decisions, problems and solutions — has to travel up and down the hierarchy. That reinforces the teams’ assumption that a manager of some sort will make a decision. With servant leadership, the teams make decisions as they need,” Rothman says.

3. Frameworks don’t allow you to take advantage of advances and collaboration

The third problem is maintaining momentum in a large effort during agile testing. “With agile and lean program management, you make the status visible at all times. When people collaborate as individuals and teams, they can see how to progress through problems and deliver,” says Rothman.

The above is an extract from Rothman’s book, Agile and Lean Program Management: Scaling Collaboration Across the Organization (now available in audio). You can learn more about her here. And stayed tuned to this blog to find out the next time Philip and Johanna will be sharing conference top billing.