Communication and Documentation

One aspect of Agile Development that appeals to me, and need not only belong in the Agile Development school of thought, is the value that is placed on face-to-face communication. Paper doesn’t glue projects together; the people who are working on the project do. Collaboration works best when done face-to-face, and a written document cannot make the necessary decisions, or fully express the requirements, risks and mitigating factors of a project. I’m not against documentation, but I agree with James Bach, I’m against wasteful documentation. When the documentation distracts us from testing, we should evaluate what we are capturing in documents.

It seems that some successful development teams prefer “discussion with peers” over written documentation. Tim Van Tongeren posts about communication being more highly valued than documentation. Tim writes:

…the study showed that coordination and communication correlate with higher team performance and product quality

I am reminded of Principle 7 of the Context-Driven Testing School:

Only through judgment and skill, exercised cooperatively throughout the entire project, are we able to do the right things at the right times to effectively test our products.

We need to be careful and self-critical about what we do on our testing projects. Every action that does not directly contribute to our testing mission should be scrutinized even more than the actions that do.

Communication and collaboration facilitate decision making, and sharpening our skills with like-minded peers not only pushes us as individuals to perform, but benefits the team and the project as well. Writing project documents is difficult to do as a collaborative effort.

One point to think about is this: perhaps more accurate information about the project has already been captured in the program code and in the tests.