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Why Removing the Test Column from Your Kanban Board Makes Sense

In today’s fast-paced software development landscape, Agile teams must constantly adapt and innovate to maintain efficiency and deliver value to their customers. One aspect of Agile project management that often goes overlooked is the organization and visualization of work items on the Kanban board. The traditional “In Test” column, used to track items being tested, can create silos and inefficiencies that hinder the Agile workflow. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of removing the “In Test” column from your Kanban board and explore alternative approaches to effectively manage testing activities.

Why Remove the “In Test” Column?

The “In Test” column has been a staple of Kanban boards for years, but it can inadvertently promote a compartmentalized view of the development process. By eliminating this column, teams can experience several benefits:

  1. Foster Collaboration: Removing the “In Test” column encourages closer collaboration between developers and testers, breaking down barriers and fostering a sense of shared responsibility for quality.
  2. Shared Responsibility for Quality: When there is no separate column for testing, all team members become accountable for delivering high-quality products, promoting a collective commitment to quality assurance.
  3. Improve Visibility and Transparency: A more streamlined Kanban board offers increased visibility into work in progress, allowing the entire team to better understand the current status of each task.
  4. Reduce Handoffs and Wait Times: The absence of an “In Test” column can minimize handoffs between team members, reducing potential bottlenecks and enabling faster delivery of value.
  5. Promote a Continuous Testing Mindset: By integrating testing activities directly into the development workflow, teams can embrace continuous testing, ensuring that quality is maintained throughout the entire process.

Alternative Approaches to Visualizing Testing Activities

While removing the “In Test” column can lead to improved efficiency, it is still important to effectively visualize and manage testing activities. Here are some alternative approaches that can be used to achieve this goal:

  1. Swimlanes: Create horizontal lanes to represent different stages of testing, such as “Ready for Test”, “In Test”, and “Testing Complete”. This can provide a clear view of the entire process.
  2. Color-coded cards: Assign different colors to cards based on their testing status. This allows for quick identification of tasks without needing separate columns.
  3. Tags or labels: Use tags or labels to indicate testing status on cards, providing a quick visual reference without the need for additional columns or swimlanes.
  4. Checklists: Incorporate checklists within task cards that outline the different stages of testing, allowing team members to track progress and ensure all testing activities are completed.
  5. Custom fields: Some Kanban tools allow adding custom fields to cards. Create a custom field for “Testing Status” and update it as tasks move through the testing process.
  6. Progress indicators: Use progress indicators, such as a percentage or a progress bar, on task cards to show the status of testing activities and what remains to be done.

Removing the “In Test” column from your Kanban board can lead to a more efficient and collaborative Agile workflow, with benefits ranging from increased visibility to a shared responsibility for quality. By adopting alternative approaches to visualize testing activities, your team can enhance its overall performance and deliver greater value to your customers. Embrace change, challenge traditional workflows, and watch your Agile team thrive.