Agile is today the industry norm for development. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that traditional testing practices are simply not feasible anymore - a massive overhaul is required to blend in with the Agile methodology. While this is not an easy task to achieve, it does not mean that traditional testers must be phased out completely. It simply means that traditional testing teams need to be restructured and refreshed in order to stay relevant.
Given below are some of the essential steps needed to help transform a traditional testing team into a more Agile-focused team.
Agile QA depends on the simple principle that the QA team is not a separate entity. QA teams should combine forces with development teams to function as one team. Testing teams should be infused into every step of development right from inception instead of waiting for a complete module/product to be presented to them. Traditional command-hierarchy should be erased and every member of the QA team should be assigned a much more collaborative role where they are expected to take individual responsibility at each step.
Any move involving the merging of two traditionally different groups requires that appropriate steps are taken to ensure proper communication. Both QA and development teams should, in advance, be encouraged to interact and discuss each one’s challenges & priorities. This will help both the teams work better with each other.
QA teams should be trained to change how they fundamentally approach the very process of testing. Agile testing is performed in short bursts of quick feedback loops rather than the traditionally long cycles of comprehensive analysis. Each short burst is highly exploratory in nature. Ideally, every burst will cover all the four parts given below:
QA teams should either be subjected to simulated scenarios or deployed onto low-risk projects so they can learn to effectively restyle their respective testing approaches.
Traditionally, requirements documentation was treated as a solid entity, acting as the sole guiding authority in the testing process. In Agile, that is no longer true. Documentation merely serves as a basic skeleton. Each quick feedback loop yields new modifications to the product under development. QA teams must take the onus upon themselves to update the documentation frequently with all the latest modifications encountered. Any discrepancies here can cause a lot of confusion when the final product is being presented.
Lastly, testing teams in an Agile environment can simply not survive with a manual-heavy approach. Automation is a big part of what Agile is all about and testing teams need to adapt accordingly. They need to be armed with all the necessary software tools to implement significant levels of automation. Additionally, they should also be trained to take the maximum advantage of the capabilities of these tools while also providing the means to experiment and convert manual tasks into automated scripts.
It isn’t uncommon to find QA team members - especially senior staff - who resist the Agile testing methodology due to its perceived notoriety as a “chaotic” process. Firms must not give in but rather educate such members on the benefits of the Agile methodology. Agile testing ensures products that are built from the very beginning with quality as their defining factor. It’s high time that every firm take advantage of this transformation.