Time To Be Agile – Craig Wilkinson

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I last updated you on my first year in IBM; I blinked and 2014 has passed me by. But why would it not pass by? It’s been an exciting, challenging and, overall, fun year with many new experiences which meant that you hardly had time to watch the time go by (and if you did watch time go by, then you need a new challenge!).

Anyway enough reflecting, I am back with a couple of updates for you in my life as an IBMer. As much as I’d like it (or not), there is never a dull moment as an apprentice. If you cast your mind back (or your internet browser), I mentioned in my previous blog post that I had joined a new role in team testing on a Data Archiving project which is still ongoing. However, this project is now proceeding without me being a tester on it.

After coming back from a weeks’ vacation, I was called into a meeting to learn that unfortunately I was being moved onto another project. I was informed that there had been amazing feedback for my work on the project and that I always had a place on the client account, which was reassuring, and they told me that my new role would challenge and develop me further.

They were certainly not wrong when they said the new role would be challenging. After initiating conversation with the Test Manager on my new project, he informed me that I would be working within the Compliance and Risk teams of the Client. He also informed me that the new project would be run in an ‘agile’ way, which does not follow the typical waterfall development cycles, as the current project was due to go live in a short space of time which was not possible by the usual development timelines. He also explained in detail that I would be working within a ‘Scrum’ team of a small number of highly experienced self-governing team members which included a Scrum Master, Product Owner (the Client), a Business Analyst, a Developer and a Tester (which would be me). This Agile method was new to the Client and, as a result, our team will be closely scrutinised to see if it could be used across other projects.

I was also directed to this useful website which contained a standardised reference card all about the ‘Agile’ approach: http://scrumreferencecard.com/scrum-reference-card/

While I was apprehensive joining the project as it was totally new territory, I was also excited by the prospect of working in a small team of people with a lot of experience so that I could learn a thing or two. As is usual when joining a new role, I was sent to a completely different place and introduced to a whole set of new people- my team members consisting of contractors and the Client, with me being the only IBMer (no pressure). Straight away, I was set, and agreed to, a task of learning about the projects systems and processes, which comprised of three months of knowledge, which I had to condense and learn within a week (which I did). And after that, the real work began!

Every morning, my team members and I meet around a board which contains a comprehensive list of tasks which, upon completion, will mean that our solution would be in a position to go live. It’s the responsibility of each member of the team to assign themselves tasks which can be completed by the end of each day which will lead us to complete a release every two weeks called a Sprint. Being the only tester of the team, this meant I have a responsibility to myself (I have no one to report to and no one to report to me) as well as the team to make sure testing is completed daily as well as in time for the next release. This included writing test scripts testing the requirements and functionality of two complicated spreadsheets loaded with millions of records and all sorts of macros and validation rules which all had to work in harmony in a matter of required seconds!

While I would like to write more about this new project, I am only one week in (at the time of writing this) so I do not have much to report on but I will likely cover more in future posts. That just about wraps up the updates from me this time around!

At the time of writing this, there are ten sleeps until Christmas, so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of new adventures (which hopefully includes joining the IBM Apprenticeship scheme).

See you in the New Year!

  • Craig Wilkinson
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