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Minimizing Undone Work when Working with Regulatory Departments

posted May 31, 2011, 2:32 AM by Marcel Baumann
The Scrum and agile mantra is to have a "ready to ship" product each time a sprint is completed. You must avoid any uncomplete activities at any price. Uncomplete activities are also called Undone Work; they are technical debts in your software, hindrering its delivery to customers.
Regulatory and traditional quality insurance departments requests all kinds of documents such as review, test results, risk analysis matrix to insure that their view of quality is fulfilled.
Scrum sees quality similar to the lean production approach. Quality is build into the product and you do not need any documents proving you have fullfilled this goal. Your sole goal is to optimize the process to produce best products, not to repair them after production. And it is the sole responsibility of the Scrum team to guaranty quality. But Scrum teams also learnt you cannot win against big corporations. So you have to divise solutions satisfying the QA departments with minimal overhead and almost no undone work. We have experience working with quality insurance and TUV or FDA driven regulatory departments. We use the following approaches to handle the needs of the regulatory departments, seen as stakeholders in the Scrum terminology.
  • Use static analysis tools such as PMD, Checkstyle, Findbugs to create quality gate reports for your QA department. Thousands of checks and hundred of pages of reports will satisfy any QA department. Plugins exists for Eclipse and continuous integration servers.
  • Use review plugin such as Eclipse Jupiter to create these still mandatory review reports on the source code. These reports are useless in an agile team working with techniques such as refactoring and pair programming. But they are still mandatory for the majority of traditional QA departments. The plugin allows you the generate nice looking reports and to implement the findings at the same time.
  • Use Test Driven Develpment approach and create a lot of unit tests. By slightly extending the logging features of JUnit and by using code coverage tools you can create reports showing which source code was tested. Add some annotations to your test cases and you have full traceability to your stories and associated software requirements. With a small amount of work you can generate thousands of pages of information and provide the PDF documents to the regulatory department. These documents are also TUV and FDA compliant.
  • Use Behavior Driven Develpment approach and create acceptance criteria for all your stories. Using the reporting features of easyb you can create acceptance test reports for all your stories and generates hundreds of pages of information and provide the PDF documents to the regulatory department. These documents are also TUV and FDA compliant
  • Use continuous integration servers to run all the above measures and generate the documentation at the end of each sprint or release.
  • Link you version control system with your continuous server, issue tracking system and unit tests. So you can generate release notes stating the list of closed issues with the associated source code and unit tests verifying the correctness of the change.
Similar tools are available in the .NET and C++ community. Therefore you can easily satisfy your QA and regulatory stakeholders with a lot of reports nobody will ever read. A real Scrum team corrects weaknesses during the development process and always deliver a software of highest quality. Therefore the reports can only show the inherant quality of the software and are not worth the paper they are printed on. But you satisfy powerful stakeholder groups and can more freely work on the most important goal. Deliver on time and in budget the best software the customer wants to have.