Teams that were once siloed into their respective functions have been brought together with the rise of agile testing tools and practices in software development efforts. However, many individuals are so used to how they did things in the past they continue to leverage legacy processes after their agile transition. Agile testing methodologies in particular can be significantly impacted when team members aren't on the same page. By cultivating a shared mental model across your quality assurance team, you can help boost agile testing efforts.
What Are Mental Models?
Mental models all revolve around how we learn, and solutions we create to handle problems. When we develop a mental model, we're making an abstraction about real-life situations that are based on limited information we hear or find, industry expert Anuradha Gajanayaka noted. There is obviously a lot of room for error and speculation with these types of models, but testing them can prove their value.
When it comes to agile testing, we can see mental models being leveraged when creating user stories. Using personas to model real users, QA teams must create tests around these stories and ensure that the app's functionality aligns with persona requirements. Sprint reviews and feedback loops allow teams to adapt these personas consistently, keeping the user at front of mind through the entire process. This will increase the likelihood of project success and give QA teams a better idea of what tests they should be conducting.
Creating a Shared Vision
Strong mental models can lead to a shared vision across the team, detailing their goals and how members want to interact to get there. Industry expert Dennis Stevens noted that shared mental models can be cultivated through continuous integration, daily sprints, customer interaction and frequent delivery. These elements contribute to a vision of where the team is going and methods to facilitate their testing efforts.
User stories are the first item that agile teams should focus on when creating shared mental models. Software Results contributor Dave Moran noted that by bringing individuals together to discuss requirements, teams can gain important insights and a deeper understanding of the customer's drivers and constraints. Implementing an agile test management solution on top of these conversations can help QA management keep track of user stories and establish an overarching team mentality across the group.
"When teams are engaged in truly collaborative, robust discussions, I've seen challenging features get simpler to implement while continuing to meet the needs of the business," Moran wrote. "A few wins like this, and you have found one way to maintain scope and schedule! But this doesn't happen when developers are relegated to mere implementers instead of being participative members of a product development team."
Agile testing can be difficult to sustain without team involvement and cooperation. Establishing shared mental models and creating a strong vision can help facilitate team engagement and boost overall testing efforts in the long run.