3 Ways a QA Pro Can Succeed in An Agile Organization

Heena Dawnak

Collaboration is the key

Almost 8/10 organizations have embraced agile within the software development area. More than 55% are already in the process of doing so, while almost a quarter has already put it into practice.

As the adoption of agile practices has increased, the relationship between the developers and the QA experts has evolved over the years, the increasingly nebulous differences between the two already set a good example of this evolution.

Well, back in the days, a QA engineer’s role was more aligned with their job title, continuous testing, and validating the quality of the application. Especially, in the waterfall methodology – a QA engineer would either bat undeployable code back to the developers, or once the application was tested and validated thoroughly, to release it to the production.

Agile has brought a New Mindset

With the new agile methodology set in place, it has not only birthed a new mindset but has also brought a host of new responsibilities for the QA pros and the developers – that not only benefits the organization but also makes us better at our jobs.

Here’s what a QA pro can expect when moving into an agile-driven organization –

1) The QA – Developer Alignment

Working with an agile methodology involves little difference between the role that of the developers and the QA. The day-to-day deliverables are very much the same since it starts with a stand-up meeting where all the tasks, in the sprint phase, are visible on a Scrum or a JIRA board.

Once a task or a story (In software development and product management, a user story is an informal, natural language description of one or more features of a software system) are ready – they indicate that a certain feature is usable – then the QA pro will simultaneously work with the developer in charge of the particular story just to verify that this is indeed the case or not.

Once the sprint scope is finalized, a QA pro focuses on defining the testing plan for the sprint which includes the test case, design, test data collation, coordinating with the DevOps team to set up the testing environment.

In an agile environment, the QA Analyst works closely with the developer to understand the features and testing requirements, then the QA highlights to the product team so that it can be addressed in the subsequent sprints. A QA pro is highly responsible to test the features in the early phase of deployment so that the errors can be highlighted beforehand.

In either case, a QA pro essentially is working to progress stories in tandem with the developers.

2) How about a “T” time?

In any agile process, it is often crucial for the developers to ensure that they take complete ownership of how their code performs. Besides that, the developers also perform the round-up functional acceptance testing to get the story “done” before pushing it to the QA pros for further testing.

Additionally, a developer, before marking the ticket as “done”, also ensures that their code is reviewed before they raise a pull request.

This evolution in responsibilities means that the developers you work with are increasingly T-shaped – which means the primary function of a developer is not just to code but test and validate those changes, which, at this level are key requirements for completing that function.

By jointly emphasizing the “test-first approach”, developers and QA analysts can not only enhance software quality but also remove the inefficiencies of poor software testing.

Test Automation

Well, of course, QA pros work in tandem with the developers to define a test automation strategy – which further optimizes the overall testing time and speeds up the release cycle, but the onus is on developers to deliver a deployable code.

Working in an agile environment means sharing responsibility, which also means sharing work. So, while a QA’s main role be testing, but you can always pick up a development task as well, as can other members of the team.

3) Automation

Yet another most critical area for the QA pros and the developers to work together is test automation. Some of the very common mistakes an organization does is handing the test automation efforts entirely to the QA team instead of making this a joined effort. A successful test automation effort requires co-operation from both the developers and the QA team.

A cost-effective test automation effort requires the creation of a test automation framework that is developed just like any other piece of software. Generally, most of the time automated tests are created and managed by the QA analysts – which is why coordination is required between the QA team and the development team to design and maintain an automation framework that will support the creation of automated tests even by non-developers.

A successful automation strategy evolves only when there are strong collaboration and well-thought planning between the developers and the QA pros.

How Working together makes you more Agile ?

So, following an agile process alone does not make you agile. To be agile, in the very true sense of the word, meaning that the organization is ready to change rapidly, they require their QA and development teams to work hand-in-hand in each iteration.

A truly agile team will have the developer and QA team work together during the current sprint – to both develop as well as test the feature. By doing this, your team can respond quickly to any changes at any given point in time and is truly able to iterate the development of their software.

What you Need to Succeed ?

For any organization working with an agile methodology, regardless of the industry, achieving business objectives sincerely requires orchestrating a cadence of processes that helps it achieve the desired business goals.

Some of the few things key to this orchestration are –

  • Collaboration
  • Clear communication across teams – whether they are technical, customer-facing, or business stakeholders.

To summarize this, as a QA pro, you must always be able to communicate and collaborate with each of the involved agile teams across the software development Lifecycle. It could mean working with architects and product managers during their early planning stages or even providing feedback in Scrum retrospectives, being an effective communicator is crucial.

The end goal, as always with agile, is to work smarter, not harder. Advancements in technology and tooling enable this, so be sure to keep up.

  • Growth through innovation/creativity:
    Rather than be constrained by ideas for new products, services and new markets coming from just a few people, a Thinking Corporation can tap into the employees.
  • Increased profits:
    The corporation will experience an increase in profits due to savings in operating costs as well as sales from new products, services and ventures.
  • Higher business values:
    The link between profits and business value means that the moment a corporation creates a new sustainable level of profit, the business value is adjusted accordingly.
  • Lower staff turnover:
    This, combined with the culture that must exist for innovation and creativity to flourish, means that new employees will be attracted to the organization.

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