Software development has significantly changed over the past decade, and along with it, testing has evolved to keep up with new demands from today's users. In traditional waterfall setups, everything had to be executed in phases where one step must be fully completed before the next could begin. Testing in these environments was often pushed to the very last minute and quality assurance teams often didn't have enough time to fully vet the applications, resulting in significant bugs leaking through to production. While these defects were major problems, the software was difficult to patch once it was released without modifying the entire build, taking up additional time and money to execute.
In light of these issues, agile has risen to be a major asset to overall development efforts. Agile testing methodologies have enabled QA teams to build the best quality system possible, meet customer requirements and complete tasks affordably. However, despite the advantages, if agile is executed incorrectly, things can go downhill very quickly and result in project failures. Organizations must be able to meet testing standards in fast-paced agile environments and do so effectively without breaking the bank.
Involved From the Start
One of the biggest differences of agile is that testers are now involved in the development process from the very start. This is important for a few reasons. First, since QA participates in determining the initial user requirements, they will be able to more effectively plan out tests and have them ready before a deliverable even crosses their desks. A major chunk of time can be saved in this way, because QA teams are actively anticipating what types of scripts will need to be executed and can have them set up ahead of time depending on if they must run automatically or manually.
Not only should QA be involved in maintaining quality standards, but all stakeholders should play a role in it. Gov.UK noted that every person on the project should be taking action to fix problems in the system and actively raise the quality across the board. With everyone collaborating in such a manner, not only will testing be expanded, but applications will ultimately better meet user needs the first time.
"Testing should confirm what you already know and understand to be true, so there should be no surprises in the latter stages," Gov.UK stated. "Service quality isn't just a testing issue. The quality of a system is defined by the people who create it."
Use Testing Methodologies
In the wide scope of agile, there are a number of approaches that QA teams can take to support such an environment. Test-driven development has been identified as one of the most effective methods in this regard. With TDD, one must write the test, write the code and then refactor. Capgemini in its paper on good software testing practice in an Agile environment noted that this approach eliminates duplication this approach eliminates duplication and specifies what standards a feature must meet in order to be considered "done". TDD is particularly effective because it not only empowers the shorter iterations associated with agile. it also sets the guidelines that coding should rise to for the best quality product.
There are numerous other methodologies in addition to TDD that QA teams can leverage for meeting testing standards. The continuous processes (integration, deployment, delivery, testing, etc.) are becoming a major priority for businesses that want to keep up with agile demands. These techniques work to ensure that deliverables are consistently ready to go out at any time and are fully vetted according to user needs.
"For every sprint, the developer needs to deliver incremental features while focusing on the addition of new features and handling code errors that creep in and render the software unusable," Gallop stated. "To stop such errors from being integrated into the software configuration management (SCM), a CI server acts as a gatekeeper that helps keep a tab on code quality."
In addition to taking advantage of everything that testing methodologies have to offer, QA teams should also aim to invest in software that will help fuel their testing efforts. Notably, test management tools will be a major benefit to any QA professional as these solutions provide a means to easily keep track of test cases and assign them across projects. With the amount of scripts involved in agile projects, this type of system will be essential to keep things up to date and ensure that everything is attached accordingly. If any defects appear when testing, QA will be immediately notified, allowing them to fix the problem faster than ever before. This capability, along with collaboration opportunities across the platform will directly improve overall testing effectiveness and ensure that standards are being met.
Another critical tool for ensuring testing ideals will be automation. Organizations are increasingly looking toward automation integration as a means to not only keep up with the fast pace of agile, but also to uphold testing needs. QA can easily code repetitive scripts and assign them to be executed without requiring manual interaction. This ensures that QA teams have more time to pursue other testing needs without shirking on their main responsibilities.
Agile has introduced a new set of challenges for QA teams, and it's taking a lot for testers to keep up. By following these tips, QA will not only be able to meet testing standards in fast-paced environments, they will also ensure that they are creating the best product possible for their users on a consistent basis.