The allocation to "test-fix-finalize" has stayed, leaving a small window of exploring how the system works before it goes live. And we do need that window since we have not managed to get very good at small incremental changes or test automation on any level. Or, some might still argue that 2-3 weeks of developer work is small.
Quite recently we have moved into introducing Selenium tests. After the first examples and the discussion about "can't we just outsource this to some testers somewhere", the team has been adding those. There's been workshops, first one day and this month two days, where the whole team sits together and codes tests together. We don't do this for anything else except tests, so I'm kind of happy to contribute to that.
When adding tests, we've also been changing the product. And that again, to me, in some small scale, is a plus on the list of why I wanted the work to stay inhouse, with this team, to not get yet another round of tests that no one maintains, runs or feels any ownership of. Yes, we did that once or twice, before I joined.
Having people sit together has also other positive impacts. Like this week, while they were doing the tests and I was spending time on my other project, they started talking about how they want to do things. I get an email telling about their "decisions", where the most relevant to me was this: they decided to plan their effort so that it includes testing - well, their idea of testing - and do trade with other developers on tasks to get fresh pair of eyes on their own code. Kind of nice step, I just wish still the system testers would be part of that cycle too. But this did not exist before so its definitely progress.
I was thinking about what actually brought this change: visibility and sharing the pain. A month ago we moved the system testing backlog into the same Jira-project where all developer work is tracked, because the time was right. And since then, the team had to see how the single tester was getting piled with three times the work that could be completed. And being the nice people they are, they are actively thinking how to help.
I wish it would help immediately, but I guess I need to work on my patience. Step at a time, never give up. If things don't feel right, there's a way to change them. Sometimes finding the way is just taking quite some time...