When it comes to software development, quality is everything. Quality Assurance (QA) is a systematic process that ensures product and service excellence. A robust QA team examines the requirements to design, develop, and manufacture reliable products whereby increasing client confidence, company credibility, and the ability thrive in a competitive environment. We, at Seamgen, want to give you some of our best practice tips for the agile QA process.
1. Define an Agile QA Process
In one way or another, most have made the shift from traditional waterfall methods to agile methods. The underlying question becomes “when and where do we start testing in the development life cycle?” Agile testing introduces QA into the project as early as possible to foresee issues, write and execute test cases, and uncover any gaps in requirements. With the project divided into iterative stages, QA engineers are able to add focus to the development process and provide rapid, continuous feedback. Sprints benefit the company by delivering working software earlier rather than later, anticipating change, providing better estimates in less time, and allowing for any course corrections instead of derailing the project. QA can incorporate lessons learned from previous projects into subsequent ones to improve the process for the next project using the knowledge gained.
2. Test Early and Test Often
In waterfall methodologies, testing is left until the end of the project where discovering defects is expensive to fix. The agile model aims to incorporate QA at each stage of the project’s lifecycle to identify issues as early as possible. Within each sprint, QA engineers test and retest the product with each new feature added to both validate that the new features were implemented as expected and to catch any problems that may have been introduced. Testing early and often saves time and budget by allowing feedback from testers as soon as functionality is implemented.
3. White-box vs. Black-box
Black-box testing assumes no knowledge of how a system does what it does, just good understanding of what it should do as viewed from a user perspective. White-box testing enables the QA engineer to develop a deeper understanding of the system’s internals. Armed with this knowledge, the QA engineer can begin testing much earlier, perhaps by looking directly at the database before the user interface is complete. In an agile QA process, the test engineers need this extra level of system understanding to validate features as soon as they are developed. White-box testing allows QA to anticipate potential error conditions and develop better test scenarios. Knowing how the system works allows them to know they have tested all possible input scenarios. It can also help identify potential security problems. Perhaps most important: white-box testing encourages close collaboration between development and QA.
4. Automate When Feasible
Automation can help maximize the effectiveness of your QA staff. Since regression testing can consume a large percentage of the QA team’s time, automation provides a way to ensure previous deliverables continue to work while QA engineers focus on testing newly delivered features. Being able to reliably reproduce tests will free up resources for exploratory testing. Automation will give your development team the confidence to make changes to the system with the knowledge that any issues will be identified quickly, and can be fixed even before delivery to the QA team. Implementing automation costs more up front, but saves money in the long run by increasing the efficiency of both the development and QA teams.
5. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Behind each high-quality product, there is a team of professionals that work incessantly to maintain the high standard of quality upheld by the organization. Although each team working on the project must take responsibility for ensuring quality, the primary responsibility for quality rests with the QA team. The QA team understands what the client needs the system to do, and can prove the client’s satisfaction with the system. Using the Agile QA process, engineers are the super-sleuths who root out problems and help the team to deliver high-quality products and ensure client confidence, company credibility, and successful product delivery.
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