Quality assurance processes have undergone a number of changes over the years, and as teams strive to support these new endeavors, they are finding considerable challenges along the way. Facilitating agile testing can certainly bring a number of benefits to organizations, but it can be difficult to know how to use these initiatives in the most effective way possible. A strain between standardization and flexibility is introducing further issues, and it will be important to address these to create a successful agile strategy. Let's take a look at how to find a happy medium between standardization and flexibility within the QA process.
Size Does Matter
How big your organization is will determine how flexible you're able to be. For example, smaller businesses may be able to quickly change on the turn of a dime, but a larger one has many more assets to move over and consider when making shifts. Bigger enterprises are more likely to have standardized processes as a means to improve efficiency and give teams clear roadmaps to complete tasks the same way across the board. However, as PriceWaterhouseCoopers noted, due to this, standardization has sapped flexibility and left many organizations with rigid systems. With a smaller company, it's easier to monitor activities and give workers autonomy and flexibility.
"It's a tightrope that every business leader must walk, between rigidity and chaos," PWC wrote. "At one extreme, sweeping standardization holds your company and your people to rigid, inflexible systems and processes; at the other, customization—a critical component of flexibility, when used in the right balance—creates utter chaos out of your strategy and operations."
This doesn't mean that larger organizations are lost causes in an agile environment; they may just have to do some more legwork to meet their objectives. PWC noted that an agility blueprint will help business leaders accept and approach change as it comes. Baking this mindset into the company culture will be essential to providing a balance of standardization and flexibility for better quality products.
Making It Work for Testing
Balancing standardization and flexibility obviously isn't easy, but it is necessary to ensure that everyone's needs are being met. For example, developers follow a standardized method to write code based on user requirements, but what happens when a new necessity comes in? Under traditional development methods, it'd be nearly impossible to change the build unless it was redone from base one, taking a significant amount of additional time and effort to complete. This is why changes typically weren't introduced until an entirely new version was released, but by then, it could have been too little too late.
Now, however, customer feedback loops are constantly filtered to teams to include new functionality and patches through updates. Similarly, QA now tests throughout the project, rather than being relegated to the end of the process. This means that although they're going to use standardized tests and approaches, they must also be able to edit, delete and manage these tests as needed to ensure they maintain their efficacy. TechTarget noted that test management should be standardized to ensure comparable reporting across projects, but also flexible enough to tailor strategies when needed. This is a tough balance to strike, but one that's necessary to establish effective agile project teams.
Standardization and flexibility are two competing forces, but using them in tandem is integral to QA processes. By understanding how the size of your business can affect your ability to achieve this balance and using the right strategy, you'll better be able to find a happy medium, and provide your team with the means to succeed.