Agile is one of the most fast-paced methodologies for Quality Assurance (QA) testing. Agile allows for faster delivery, continuous integration and more frequent deployments. The key to better overall quality and customer satisfaction is to provide end users with feedback earlier and make course corrections as quickly as possible. Many startups embrace this methodology when releasing a minimum viable product.
With Agile methodology’s increasing prevalence across organizations, multi-skilled testers and development team members are now getting involved in testing cycles earlier than before – in other words, they are ‘Shifting Left.’ This also ensures that the QA costs stay on budget. The earlier that defects are detected, the lower the cost of fixing them and the more likely the final product will be of higher caliber. Recruiting testing resources as early as the requirements definitions phase reduces any misunderstanding of the work to be performed, undertaken, and completed.
It is also an imperative that we ‘Shift Right’ or get business users involved during the early stages of the software development cycle. When shifting right, the software should be continuously tested while it’s simulated in a post-production environment. In combining shift right testing with shift left implementation, better results are achieved and overall product quality is improved.
There is also a high demand for faster product life cycles, quicker releases and small autonomous teams. Continuous integration techniques ensure good execution and higher quality results. Testing plays a huge part in ensuring Agile is successful. Now let’s investigate the other keys to successful leadership for Agile teams in a global delivery model.
Involve QA in Elaboration Sessions: The testing team needs to be involved from the beginning of the software development life cycle. Team members should take part in all elaboration sessions where requirements are being written and reviewed. Involving the testing team at the beginning ensures quality downstream and enables QA engineers and SDETs (Software Development Engineers in Test) to deepen their understanding of the requirements, leading to stronger test cases and results.
Communicate Risks Early: With Agile, it’s very easy to get lost in the mayhem; sometimes, we forget to communicate road blocks, which results in rework and scope creep. Technical debt also accrues, which requires additional rework. Risks must be communicated on a daily basis to ensure all stakeholders are informed of any anomalies. The best way to communicate about risks is to host daily huddles so that everyone is aware of the risks associated with each project. Then, risks can be evaluated according to importance and business impact. Have your leaders write down all the risks associated with each program before hosting a risk management meeting where team members can collaboratively to assess the impact.
Agree on Story Points Delivered Upfront: There’s a tendency to overestimate the number of story points deployed during the delivery. The team encounters obstacles that may take a long time to fix, causing the timeline to slip. It’s safer to be more conservative before a sprint begins and to set realistic expectations in terms of what’s possible. It’s also important to unite the entire team and reach an agreement about the timeline before the sprint even begins.
Environment Sync: There are often different environments being used for different phases of testing. It’s critical the development team provides the release notes—or user release stories—for every deployment, along with unit test results, and, any defects found during unit testing. This is a vital step towards the testing team’s success in Agile.
Test-Driven Development: This method works best in a fast-paced environment. The testing team should write test cases for the development team. This should be completed before having the team execute the test cases and then fix the code to ensure it passes. Keep in mind: since the code has not been developed yet, it will fail. If test-driven development is automated, the more value the project derives. QA and Development working together as a unit is one of the advantages within this methodology.
Automation: With frequent code drops between sprints, it is tougher for manual testers to spend hours on smoke tests. One of the advantages of automation is that it ensures smoke tests are automated. Ensure regression test cases are also automated because this will help shorten the timeline for testing. The tools must be carefully selected based on the application being tested, and there are many open source tools to choose from.
Maintain Team’s Focus: Team members need to understand what is required of them and their colleagues on any given day. Having daily huddle meetings with the whole team ensures everyone is focused on key activities. At each of these meetings, make sure everyone speaks about the challenges they are facing and what they have achieved thus far.
Onsite-Offshore Coordination: A high-performance team is equipped to overcome any challenge. Onsite teams should pass along the tasks completed onsite, including stories accepted, and they should clearly layout the activities that the offshore team is responsible for each day. Similarly, the offshore team must ensure that they hand over what they complete on a daily basis.
Cross Training between Sprint Teams: Cross training is achieved through collaboration between and across teams. Each sprint team focuses only on the stories they are required to deliver so it is imperative each team shares their stories with one another for a holistic picture.
Exploratory Testing: This is the most creative way to maximize benefits from the testers. Having teams of at least two people focus on particular areas of the application that have frequent defects is a good place to start. Then, the teams can lead session-based testing of ninety-minute intervals for the respective areas. This ensures any defects are found from an end-user perspective. Teams ultimately should ensure there are no scripts to execute and that the testers are using their intuitive capabilities to test the application’s functionality. This involves selecting the charter or mission in advance of the testing. Before leveraging session-based testing, the testers should be clear on what the objective of the test is – then testers can pair up with developers to streamline the process.
Retrospective Sessions: Having a retrospective session after every sprint is critical to ensure that everyone understands what is working, what can be improved, and what the next steps require. These sessions are only possible through regular interaction and ensuring all concerns are addressed. Each team member should be encouraged to provide their ideas and insights. When teams work in unison, it fosters greater unity across the business and promotes trust. The ultimate benefit of unity is the ability to look introspectively and ensure lessons are implemented immediately.
As you can see, each of the above tips are easy to implement but hard to execute properly. The key for implementation is to entrench these tips and ensure they are firmly ingrained among testing teams, which will enable you to manage Agile testing. Having a strong team morale can’t hurt either – more on that in our next article.