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By Pavel Kukhnavets

Agile QA

Defining the best practices for Agile QA processes.

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If a company strives to move to Agile, its members will very soon begin to discuss the components of frequent and iterative deployments. For some testers or QA people, it may seem scary – literally, what the world around them will look like.

What is QA’s role in Agile software development? The truth is that the new Agile world will definitely need QA professionals. So, no fear!

The main idea is that instead of the old paradigm, where your goal involves determining defects at the end of a lengthy traditional project, you will continuously prevent defects and help to ship products faster. And by guiding Agile principles, you will be able to create a powerful and healthy QA process.

Agile QA

Let’s take a look a little closer at what going Agile means from a QA perspective and how you can succeed in this environment.

What is Quality Assurance in Agile?

Quality Assurance (QA) is a process of defining whether a product meets specified requirements or not. How does Agile support it?

You may say that Agile ways of working and meeting requirements seem at odds. However, the set of Agile methods and practices where solutions evolve through collaboration between cross-functional self-organizing teams may be considered a perfect choice. The combination of Quality Assurance and Agile provides a framework for building high-quality and well-rounded products.

Having a strong and flexible QA plan will help to ensure you’re delivering the right product in the proper and cost-effective way.

What is the role of QA in the Agile environment?

Digital business initiatives that demand the quick delivery of solutions are what contribute to the growth of top-down strategic adoption of Agile.

According to Agile, both developers and testers have to work together and their roles can be interchangeable. Therefore, it is important that the requirements are frozen and the team is well informed.

Testing will start from the time when the user stories get written. Agile developers and testers will need to have a clear understanding of the expected scope of work.

By nature, Agile development is more experimental and exploratory. Over time, the roles and the scope of the project can evolve. The QA team should sync effectively within the development cycle to deliver the app with tested codes during the code review. The role of QA in Agile may include both testing and development components. The idea is that both testers and developers must actively engage to deliver the code and complete the project as per the client’s brief.

QA helps to address issues and bugs within an app during the development cycles. It also assists address the issues with functionality, performance, and security. So, developers can move ahead without dealing relentlessly with pending issues or rework.

Agile practices provide teams with the required ownership while operating on projects. However, Agile Quality Assurance enables teams to bring stability and relevance while churning codes and deciphering client briefs.

How QA in Agile differs from traditional QA

Agile has two principles that muddy the waters around testing:

1. Cross-functional and self-organizing teams.

  • Everyone should be able to help deliver any story.
  • Everyone should be responsible for ensuring high-quality deliverables.

2. Iterative development – every sprint’s deliverable is a potential release candidate.

  • You must conduct testing throughout the entire development lifecycle.
  • You must keep the balance between testing new functionality and system regression testing.

The Role of QA in Waterfall and Agile

Here we can define some important differences between QA in the Waterfall environment and QA in Agile.

Waterfall QA process:

  • Black-box testing and no need for deep knowledge of the internal app workings.
  • The key function is to certify the quality of the product.
  • Work in branches at the end of milestones.
  • There is no need for automated testing. Only some UI automated testing is performed.
  • A team is completely separate from development.
  • Not much interaction with the business.

Agile QA process:

  • Black-box and white-box testing and deep knowledge of internal workings of internal app workings.
  • The key function is to help produce great applications.
  • Work in parallel with development.
  • Based mainly on automated testing.
  • There is only one team. Integrated with the development team.
  • The main role interacting with the business.

Agile QA best practicies

Agile QA Process Best Practices

Quality is everything. It must be in mind not only in software development. QA as a systematic process ensures product excellence.

An effective QA team studies the requirements to design, develop, and produce reliable products thereby accelerating client confidence, company credibility and the ability to flourish in a competitive environment.

Here are some essential practice tips for the Agile QA process:

1. Defining an Agile Quality Assurance process

More and more companies are shifting from traditional development to an Agile process. According to Agile testing, QA is introduced into the project plan as early as possible. Thanks to the division of the project into iterative stages, QA engineers may pay more attention to the development process and provide continuous feedback.

The QA team can use lessons learned from previous projects to improve future projects’ processes.

2. Risk analysis

This is a significant aspect of any QA process. Risk analysis is the process of determining and assessing risks and their impact. It helps teams to avoid and mitigate risks.

The QA team should be able to remove or prevent the most problematic bugs. Understanding the possible project outcomes allows teams to establish preventive measures that reduce the probability of occurrence.

3. Early and frequent tests

Agile is about incorporating QA at every stage of the project’s life cycle in order to identify issues as early as possible. QA engineers test and retest the product with each new feature added within each sprint. This allows them to be sure that the new features were implemented as expected and to detect possible problems that may have been introduced.

4. White and black boxes

The black-box testing does not require knowledge of how a system does what it does. The white-box testing enables testers to deeply understand the system’s internals. Having this knowledge, QA engineers can begin testing much earlier.

Agile QA engineers need this extra level of system understanding to check features as soon as they are developed. White-box testing allows them to predict error conditions and develop better test scenarios.

5. Automating when possible

Automation is what helps to boost the effectiveness of QA people. It provides a way to ensure previous deliverables continue to work while Quality Assurance engineers focus on testing new features.

Automation allows developers to make changes to the system with the knowledge that issues will be identified quickly, and they can be fixed before delivery to the QA department. Of course, implementing automation costs a lot, but it saves money in the long run by increasing efficiency between developers and QA teams.

6. Knowing your audience

When you know and understand your target audience, you have many chances to improve the QA process. Adapting the development and QA process around the customers’ needs will enable your team to create value-driving solutions.

7. The role of teamwork in dream work

Every high-quality product is made by professionals that work to maintain the high standard of quality upheld by the company.

Each team working on the project takes responsibility for ensuring quality and the QA team has the primary responsibility for this aspect. All the people involved in testing understand what customers need and can prove their satisfaction with the system. The Agile QA process helps engineers to be the super-sleuths who determine problems and help the team to deliver high-quality products and ensure client confidence.

Where do Quality Assurance team members fit in?

  • Testing itself
  • Requirements generation
  • Planning
  • Estimations
  • Day-to-day sprint execution
  • Defining “done”
  • Documentation

Parallel QA approach

Quality Assurance should take place in parallel with development.

  • It allows testing stories as they are completed during the sprint.
  • It prevents the overload of the QA team at the end of the sprint.
  • It decreases the risk of surprises.

Sometimes QA may not be completed by the end of the sprint. In this case, QA for stories completed near the end of a sprint can be spilled into the next sprint. You just should accommodate it, as this is not an unusual case.

Conclusion

In Agile teams, every team member is responsible for quality. This can actually be your time to shine by sharing your expertise with your colleagues. Do not hesitate to work with your entire team to build quality into the development process. The goal no longer involves just finding defects and bugs but preventing them during the development cycle.

With the help of the Agile philosophy, you will get the ways to break that problem down and work towards the final goal iteratively.