Feature Advocacy

Take everything you know about bug advocacy – the art of maximizing the likelihood that any given bug is fixed as per its impact on those who care about it – and direct it towards feature advocacy – the art of maximizing the likelihood that any given feature might be adopted as per its value to those who would use it.

In a world where the concept of a ‘project’ as a way of working is being eaten away by pull systems and continuous delivery models, one possible side effect is the death of the bug report.

Features (user stories, etc.) are either ready to be adopted by the user community, or they are not. As complex and subjective as that decision might be, it is still ultimately a decision that a person makes. As testers, we investigate and explore and communicate so that the decision is an informed one. The people employing a pull system might require a few more columns than just two – but fundamentally, there is ultimately a state that a feature must reach that says, “as far as we can tell, we can adopt this.”

Feature Advocacy - Figure 1

Everything we gather during testing is data about that particular feature – successes, failures, shortcomings, omissions; its beauty, economy, utility – and all of that information should be available in making that decision. Whether or not that feature plays well with other features is still information about that feature, especially if that other feature has already been in active use. We either move the kanban for the feature to the right, or we do not.

So why create a bug report? Why introduce a whole new ‘thing’ to create, resolve, test, re-open, close, etc.? Why not just add to the information that is known about that feature and ask the appropriate authority to either move it to the right, or send it back to the left?

I understand that there is the capacity for kanban to include a ‘bug’ work type, and a class of service that gets serious ‘bugs’ resolved sooner. The detachment of that ‘bug’ that prevents the adoption of another work item on the board – the feature that was being explored when the ‘bug’ was identified’ – is a problem to me and I would vote for splitting the feature if and only if some of the original feature could still be adopted (or considered for acceptance, whatever the end state of the kanban is). I suggest the problem preventing acceptance be kept with the item being considered for said acceptance.

Feature splitting doesn’t generate a bug report, it generates another feature, presumably worded the same way that any other feature is worded. Still no bug report.

And we would again advocate for its adoption given the value it brings to the user community in the context of all the other features being considered.

About Adam Geras

Adam is a senior consultant specializing in testing and managing test efforts for strategic initiatives. Adam has worked in IT for over 20 years initially as a developer and architect and now, for over a decade, as a test manager and coach for large projects across a variety of industries, including utilities, oil and gas, transportation, and travel. Adam uses a combination of agile and lean management strategies and tactics to help teams grow the effectiveness of their test effort; particularly when there are many unknowns to work with. LinkedIn Profile
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