Before some of you start freaking out, let me make this clear - no, it’s not the pot some of you might be thinking of :) It’s an abbreviation of “Problem on Table”, an activity we have recently started doing at XING AG for its testers.
As facilitator, I have experienced the benefits of POT method of problem sharing (and solving). I was first introduced with the idea at ITB tester meet-ups I participated in Pune/Mumbai and in order to facilitate such exchange for testers at XING, we decided to give it a try with some twist. And guess what? It worked really well!
How does it work?
The key idea of POT session is that testers come together and share their testing problems. This is done in order to get support from fellow testers who might have faced similar problems before or you find more testers facing similar problems and then work together to solve them.
The format of POT sessions I did in past used to turn out chaotic soon, because of lack of moderator control over discussions, too many topics being discussed at a time etc. And that sometimes used to confuse the problem presenter instead of getting solutions to the problems they shared.
Presenting "POT – the Lean Coffee style"
To make the exchange less chaotic and inclusive for everyone, we decided to do it in Lean Coffee way. And boy, it did wonders!
If you are aware of Lean Coffee and now POT then it should be rather easy to guess the format.
Set-up notes for facilitators:
Here are some simple rules we followed that worked great for us:
And that’s it. You are ready roll!
Our first POT- Lean Coffee style session went on for two hours with five minutes break in between and I am super glad that we had some much cool stuff to discuss and everyone had some or the other idea to solve their respective problems. That’s the power of teamwork, isn’t it?
The key takeaways from our first session:
In two hours of highly engaging discussions, below are some problems we discussed and the solutions we felt could help solve those. I strongly feel that many testers would face those challenges regardless of the organizations they work for and hence I am sharing the solutions we discussed, hoping that others with similar problems might find them helpful.
Problem 1: What happens when Tester goes on vacation?
A classic problem many Agile teams face in my opinion. So, when tester (who is generally only one person doing testing in team) goes on vacation or falls sick, the team usually suffers and tends to rely on automated tests or performs minimal testing which often results into big problem. What a tester can do to solve it? Or if I may say, what teams can do to solve this problem? Here are some ideas that have worked with some of us:
Problem 2: How to manage integration testing with different teams/apps?
If the app your team builds is just one part of several applications working together for your one business product as a whole, it often becomes challenging to plan out and maintain hassle-free deliveries throughout. And end-to-end testing becomes even more challenging under some circumstances.
Different teams are likely to have different notion of quality, different development methodologies, different business plans and thus, naturally different release plans. Things become chaotic when testers are left alone to solve such problems, or when such problems are identified very late in development of some feature with rigid deadline.
And who else can understand such problems any better than fellow tester from other team? Do you see some solution there? We did and I believe it helps. Here are some ways to facilitate that:
Some of the other issues we discussed were around pushing for bug-fixing, fixing high-bug-tolerance problem of agile teams, common pitfalls of agile testing, what real agile testing should look like etc. One of the suggestions from our experienced tester Dirk Meißner was to hire programmers who take testing seriously and have quality mindset. I feel that’s very good approach. Precaution is always better than cure, isn’t it?
So that was about some key things we discussed in our first POT-Lean Coffee style meet-up. And we are already excited about the next one. How about creating one in your organization and sharing your learning with us, just like I did? Let there be some coffee, some delicious cake and of course some Problems on Table. Enjoy!
Header image credit - wall.alphacoders.com
A passionate & thinking tester. Trainer & student of the craft of testing. Chief Editor and Co-founder of Tea-time with Testers magazine.