Agile Testing: How does Quality Assurance Work?

When a company adopts agile practices, deployments become more frequent and iterative. This shift can complicate testing because the codebase changes every day. Also, moving to agile often reduces the emphasis on traditional QA and testing roles.

So, how should you adjust to this new reality? Moreover, what is the role of QA in an agile environment?

Although QA remains necessary in agile, its focus shifts towards preventing defects and helping to speed up product delivery. In this blog, we'll discuss fundamental principles for maintaining effective QA processes within agile methodologies. We'll also consider how agile impacts QA roles and suggest ways you can adapt successfully in this setting.

Revisiting the Agile Manifesto with a Focus on QA

The Agile Manifesto has been instrumental in propelling the agile methodology forward. Despite its influence, it notably omits quality assurance (QA) from its core considerations. Let's briefly examine the core values it promotes:

A closer inspection of the agile values and principles reveals a lack of explicit recognition for testing, leaving many to question the future role of traditional QA in agile environments. It's important to delve deeper into this issue to grasp its implications fully.

Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation

The objective here is not to amass extensive testing documentation, which not only consumes time but also introduces the potential for human error. Instead, the emphasis should be on producing operational software. This shift in focus presents an opportune moment to explore test automation tools that enhance testing efficiency, repeatability, and traceability.

While this value doesn't completely dismiss documentation, any documentation that is created should be purposeful and not merely procedural. Efficient testing methodologies should be sought out, which allow for clear and minimal-effort communication of defects to the development team. Ultimately, whatever approach is adopted, the end goal must always be the delivery of functional software.

Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation

Emphasizing collaboration is essential in agile methodologies, making it vital to focus on the end-users' needs. Consider the quality expectations and any non-functional requirements (NFRs) that users might have. Understanding your client will help in developing the right automated tests, encompassing both system functionality and performance expectations. Aim to establish a partnership with your clients that feels more like teamwork than an interrogation.

Responding to Change Over Following a Plan

A significant challenge for testers in agile environments is keeping pace with the rapid delivery of software updates. Agile necessitates continuous learning and adaptation, so it's best not to get too fixated on long-term plans. Concentrate on setting up automated testing and safeguards that enable quick adaptation to shifts in priorities and features. Prioritizing automation ensures you're prepared for changes as they arise.

Individuals and Interactions Over Process and Tools

In agile settings, quality assurance (QA) should be seamlessly integrated into the team. Agile teams often engage in spontaneous design discussions, and testers need to be physically present and ready to contribute to these exchanges as they happen. Therefore, rather than increasing paperwork and formal processes, strive to be actively involved throughout the entire software development lifecycle.

Quality Assurance in an Agile Environment

After exploring the Agile Manifestos, it's important to address the practical aspects of working in an agile environment. This includes how QA experts can contribute to delivering high-quality software.

Partake in the Agile Team

The most significant change for QA in agile settings is the integration of QA roles within the development teams, rather than operating as a separate entity. Starting from the early stages of the project, QA professionals can influence product outcomes. Testers are encouraged to share their knowledge of effective testing practices, which helps in improving the testability and design of features.

Testers should participate in daily stand-ups, retrospectives, and demos to stay connected with the ongoing developments and understand the project's dependencies. This involvement helps identify additional checks that may be necessary. As the team aims to deliver functional software quickly, the presence of QA adds a layer of stability and support.

Customer Focused Approach

In agile, understanding the customer’s needs and how they interact with the product is essential. This insight helps in identifying important use cases and potential areas that may not fully meet customer needs. By focusing on the customer, the team can detect and address any assumptions that might affect the quality of the final product.

Automate Your Testing Procedures

With development and testing happening simultaneously in agile environments, automating tests is crucial to keep up with the pace. QA professionals should engage in both black-box and white-box testing, covering all aspects of the application's behavior. Automation ensures that tests are run continuously and efficiently, without requiring manual input every time. This allows for thorough testing that aligns with the acceptance criteria set by developers, ensuring that the product works as expected and identifying any gaps that require further testing.

Exploratory Testing with a Clear Purpose

Exploratory testing helps find issues that automated tests may miss. Instead of repetitively conducting manual tests without focus, use exploratory testing to actively search for unnoticed bugs or missing features.

Continuous Improvement in Agile Testing

In an agile setting, quality is everyone's responsibility. To improve testing practices, learn about different agile testing strategies and support developers in creating integration tests that deliver reliable system functionality. Choose test suites that are practical and maintainable.

Rethinking Quality Focus

On an agile team, quality is a shared duty. Collaborate to make quality an integral part of the development process, aiming not just to find bugs but to prevent them as you develop. This proactive approach means tackling issues gradually and making adjustments based on early results.

Starting with Automated Testing Tools

Begin by implementing a testing tool to explore what automation offers. Build on your early successes to enhance and expand your automated testing efforts, increasing efficiency over time. This process allows you to establish and improve your automated testing gradually.

Codvo believes in continuous testing practice improvement. We have seasoned experts who can assist you in increasing your productivity. Contact us today for any type of quality assurance services!

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