I've heard swarming mentioned in the context of Agile or Extreme Programming. It seems to be a complement to pairing.
What exactly is it? When should it be applied? How do you do it well?
The idea is that everyone on your team works on the same story at the same time. Instead of everyone focusing on different tasks, everyone focuses on one task at a time until it's completed. Then they move on to the next thing, where they all work together on it.
This helps team that struggle completing stories before the end of sprint. Often teams finish 80% of all the stories, but none are complete. This is less useful than completely finishing 80% of the stories, since unfinished stories have (effectively) no value to an end user. It's easier to get stories completed when everyone on the team is focusing on one story at a time. This is the motivation behind swarming.
There are some difficulties here. For instance, QA can't always test things before they are built (or even designed). In this case, you should establish a design together early on, and then QA can write (initially failing) tests against the design and not the actual implementation.
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Swarming just refers to the fact that multiple people work together to complete a task or story. In my experience this isn't something you do often.
Typically, each member of my team works on a different task and/or different story. If someone is falling behind, or if there's a desire to finish a task or story early, other people will stop working on other tasks and "swarm" to complete the task, which means they all work together on a single task or story until it is completed.
We recently had a small number of stories that was some fairly boring, uninteresting work. I gave the team a small incentive (pizza) and deadline (end of the day) to finish the work, so they swarmed on the story and knocked out at least a couple days of work in one afternoon. They got the work done and out of the way early, then each team member went back to whatever they were working on. They got a free lunch, I got work done early that could have dragged on due to it's dull nature, and the team got ahead of their sprint. Win-win-win.
"Swarming" is nothing more than a fancy term for "hey, let us help you with that".