The Ronin

I have been pondering this post for a while now and thought that a visit to the Land of the Rising Sun was an appropriate incentive for me to write.The team I am part of has attempted to work in an Agile manner for the better part of two years with a few ups and mostly downs on that ground. This is however one of the big successes we had in terms of work organization.From the inception the team had QA members for which a test environment needed to be maintained. By itself, deploying a QA environment every couple of days is a sizable task. Even though that task was, over the months, considerably trimmed down, it is disruptive for a developer. More so when QA needs to chase a developer to do the work.As a further disruption, our environment is connected to a number (5 or 6) other systems that occasionally and regularly failed. We therefore needed someone to investigate and resolve (or get someone else to do so) those issues.Finally we had an automated integration test suite running on a fixed schedule. That suite was two long to execute after each check-in as our regular regression test suite does. And the schedule was long enough that the blame was typically difficult to place at first glance. When it was not a false alert due to some other system failing.All those activities quickly prove rather expensive in terms of developers time because, being good citizens, two or three persons would jump on the problem to attempt a quick resolution. Or on the contrary, everyone felt too busy to bother, assuming someone would pick up the flag, wasting precious QA hours. So the obvious solution, as you may have guessed was to designate someone to perform those ungrateful tasks. Two weeks would the term. That person would be called the Ronin.It quickly became apparent that the Ronin plays a release engineering role and so it was assigned the responsibility to maintain and enhance the build system. It also became apparent that in many cases the Ronin was not fully occupied and had room for short, lonely tasks. And he became the teams’ designated bug killer during his term.Maybe Yojimbo¬†would have been a better word.

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