How QA Can Make Agile More Efficient

In most traditional workflow models for software development, quality assurance is generally viewed as a last line of defense against flaws and errors. Usually a software development team will pass along the finished source code and let QA find any issues, which they will then pass back to the dev team to fix. But in an Agile workflow environment, quality assurance can play a much greater role and actually help the entire development process to become more efficient. Whether it’s early planning, product development, or the testing process, QA is your ticket to making your Agile environment as speedy and on-point as possible. Here’s three ways that quality assurance contributes to your agile workflow’s efficiency.

Planning the Software Development

Due to the nature of Agile, in which everything is done on the fly and continuously, the planning period generally happens multiple times during a cycle. For this reason, Agile teams will hold daily Scrum sessions that catch everyone up on what’s happening, where certain tasks are at in the pipeline, and what is coming next. QA engineers should always be included here as well, as this can help set realistic timelines for testing and prevent the burnout of the quality assurance squad.

Programmers may tend to think of software with an optimistic mindset, dreaming of a scenario where no obstacles, exceptions, or issues exist during creation. On the other hand, quality assurance analysts and engineers are looking for anything and everything that could go wrong with an application. During the early analysis stages, the QA team should be included and involved as the plans for the product are laid out.

Product Development

Agile’s structure was created to allow for constant analysis and reanalysis, so things can change or be added or dropped in a moment’s notice. For this reason, Agile makes developers and QA engineers equals, with both sides being given equal voices. Instead of testing being a last stop on the production chain, engineers and developers are free to collaborate and trade perspectives throughout the process. QA engineers also have a keen eye for the user experience. They spend countless hours trying out every inch of a piece of software, using different configurations of environmental differences, all in an attempt to find out what is working and what isn’t. After developing user stories and test cases, they’ll be able to give you a much more complete view of how the product is used by customers.

Establishing an Agile Software Quality Assurance Process

In order for the QA testing team to help an Agile workflow be as efficient as possible, there are some steps that need to be taken when setting up the quality assurance process. Most importantly, testing should work in parallel with software development. This means that user stories and requirements are being tested to as they’re being written. It should be understood that because a QA testing cycle can only start after a sprint has begun that the test may overlap into the next sprint iteration. This is normal and should not be viewed as a lack of efficiency, but simply an organizational requirement.

Once an underlying issue has been identified, it should be sent back to the development team, using continuous integration and continuous deployment models. The flaw will be then fixed and sent back to the QA team to confirm it’s been fixed. Because this process can be extremely involved, any chance a QA team has to cut back on burnout or overexertion should be taken. One of the most commonly performed tests during an Agile workflow is a regression test. Luckily, this is also one of the easiest and most effective tests to automate; a QA team working within this model should try to do so as often as possible.

An Agile workflow is so appealing because it maximizes efficiency and helps to bring focus to the user experience. Though QA is often an afterthought, this environment gives a chance for the quality assurance engineering team to shine and help improve the entire process of development, testing, and delivery. So, if you’re thinking of making a switch to this approach, you’ll want to be sure your QA team is up to the challenge. Unsure if they’re ready? Give iLAB a call. We are industry leaders in QA testing and can help you get your QA process on the straight and narrow path to success.