Flexibility is the core of agile software testing. The ability to swiftly respond to shifting market demands and quickly patch security vulnerabilities or bugs ensures long-term integrity of an application and ongoing support for users. Furthermore, because testing occurs much more frequently, QA management has the potential to be significantly more thorough than in waterfall development.
Realizing these benefits, however, requires certain characteristics of the individuals that comprise an agile team – namely, a willingness and aptitude to learn and adapt.
There Is No "I" in Team
Collaboration and teamwork is a driving principle of agile. Unlike the silos of waterfall development, a solution isn't simply passed from one echelon to the next until it reaches the customer. Instead, the agile team creates a shared accountability model.
"Knowledge-sharing, support and group accountability are the key benefits of agile's whole-team approach," TechTarget's executive editor Jan Stafford wrote. "Team members work more closely and are often able to back one another up."
Of course, the only way for teams to back one another up is by taking a less rigid stance on what their "responsibility" is in the project. That's not to suggest that testers must be expert programmers and vice versa, but rather, that there is an environment of support between these and other roles. Often this means a willingness to learn more about other team members' roles, and get a better understanding of how they overlap with one another. This is the only way that teams can feasibly have a comprehensive understanding of the big picture for the continuous delivery of new builds that have been thoroughly tested.
Adapting to Customer Demands Is Key to Agile Success
Another benefit of agile is that the wall dividing the development teams and the customer is less opaque than ever before. Now, cross-functional teams work more directly with customers to ensure that their requirements are met. This is important because it allows project managers and agile team members to get a more immediate sense of what customers are demanding. This is why adaptability in an agile team is so essential. It's not enough just to know what the customer wants. Teams must also be able to deliver quickly, and without cutting any corners.
This is one of the reasons that agile testing methodologies and test automation integration have become so central to agile developers and testers. In addition to user acceptance testing that involves hands-on work with customers, teams are still responsible for ensuring the integrity of every new build, even if there are no significant changes between iterations.
A strong test management tool with centralized access, real-time project tracking and intuitive defect management not only helps ensure that developers, designers and testers are on the same page, but also that customer feedback is being adequately addressed, and the program is performing optimally.
This support for adaptability will ensure that each new build not only has the features that the customers want, but the functionality that they need.