In today’s software development industry, quality assurance professionals are under a great deal of pressure to reduce their operating costs while simultaneously helping to release high-performance products in shortened time tables. The competitiveness of the marketplace has driven the need for high-quality software to be developed as cost effectively and quickly as possible. Under these circumstances, it can be enormously difficult for testers to balance the various demands placed upon them. Many smaller development studios have found great success by employing an agile approach to production. There are a number of factors that characterize this strategy, but at its core, agile stresses the need for greater collaboration and communication between team members in order to release a satisfying product in a shorter timeframe. Often, this is achieved by embedding testers alongside developers, shattering the barriers separating coders and QA professionals.
Agile has typically proven most successful in smaller projects with fewer team members. With fewer components to keep track of, QA management can easily foster constant communication and collaboration among their employees. Agile tactics such as the daily stand-up meeting can be implemented without worrying about the logistics of accommodating a large number of team members. For organizations that adopt scrum development methods, employees can more readily and easily respond to changing customer demands when working on more straightforward software with fewer lines of code and components that would need to be addressed. Also, smaller productions often require fewer tests to ensure a high level of software performance and quality.
Taking Agile to the Enterprise
Because agile strategies have seemingly been tailor-made for smaller development projects and studios, enterprises may be hesitant to employ them. However, if QA management takes the right approach to their implementation, agile principles can be extremely beneficial for large organizations. TechTarget contributor Colleen Frye spoke to several software development professionals who agreed that enterprises can enjoy the benefits of agile by scaling up its ideas. This may require investing in new test tools, such as replacing post-it notes and whiteboards with a comprehensive test management system to foster communication between a large numbers of workers.
According to the source, QA expert Theresa Lanowitz cautioned businesses that place a premium on documentation and the ability to audit processes that they may find it more difficult to successfully implement agile solutions. Tracking developments across numerous meetings and interactions between on-site and offshore team members can be extremely challenging with traditional management software. However, current industry-leading test management systems offer the ability to better track all phases of the production process, including test cases, bug reports and communications between individuals. This will provide a greater level of oversight to managers and company leaders who may need to keep tabs on a project or department from both granular and broader views.
Writing for DevX, Micro Focus director Joachim Herschmann offered several best practices for agile testing which highlight the benefits of this approach. For example, he urged QA management to test early and often, building in various software tests from a project’s outset. The longer a performance flaw or bug goes unnoticed during development, the more expensive it will be to address. Agile principles allow testers to identifying software issues early on, reducing the overall cost of production.
Herschmann also urged development teams to remain flexible and ready to accommodate any shifts in production such as new parameters or features requested by clients. Because agile teams constantly run testing processes on the most up-to-date version available, they will be less likely to be fazed by any new developments in production, as continual change is expected. Furthermore, by utilizing a single, unifying test management system, every team member can be immediately notified of any new requirements or demands, reducing the amount of time needed to address them. By introducing more agile principles into the production process, developers can reduce their operating expenses while releasing higher quality software within a shorter timeframe.