The overall software development panorama is changing, and these changes involve mostly a shift in previously blindly accepted paradigms and role delimitation. Today, the development of websites and apps has turned into a user-responsive framework recently called Shift Left, giving way to the establishment of cross-functional teams made up of members that specialize in different fields (code, design, architecture, script, testing) but that are exhorted to work interdependently and in a collaborative way with every other member and department.
The agile testing methodology has made a very important milestone in the software development field, and it deserves to be called a pioneer in this Shift Left approach to software. This new paradigm focuses strongly on making sure that quality-related activities take place early in the software development life cycle, meaning that agile testing begins as early as possible in the software development life cycle (SDLC).
The waterfall paradigm is now obsolete, as many developing teams are turning to methodologies like agile testing to build up better software. Some say “yes!” while some others say “no” and prefer to stay with traditional models. But agile is an undeniably a major change and a catalyzer in the world of software development.
But, what’s all the fuss about agile testing?
What makes agile different from the traditional waterfall approach is the fact that it is non-linear in terms of analysis, design, coding and testing. These activities are performed simultaneously, allowing members of all departments to fill in the gaps that come out during the developing processes. Work on agile is done incrementally (i.e. iteratively) and adaptively.
This has changed the way in which verification and validation work, particularly because of Quality Assurance (QA) has now a major role not only in the after development testing itself but further on all the steps that used to come before testing that is now hand-in-hand on everyday work whenever agile testing is in practice.
What’s more, this change in paradigm has also helped QA specialist reach out and represent an aspect of software building that frequently gets undermined or lost among technical issues. And that aspect is the business.
Product owners want to make sure that every single dollar spent on technological advances and tools will convert and provide them with a higher return on investment (ROI). It doesn’t matter how amazing and bug-free the code is, if it does not guarantee product owners with tangible, measurable results, they will walk out disappointed and (very probably) upset.
And that’s why QA teams are crucial in agile testing
Testing software at the end of the cycle is both clumsy and costly. In order to have an amazing, high-quality end result, every step of the way has to prove that it is high-quality in itself. And there is no other way to do it than iterating and including QA specialists and testers for every step of the software developing path.
Agile-based test automation tools have changed the way developing teams are structured, allowing QA specialists to get directly involved in developing steps related to code architecture and design, whose testing was traditionally placed at the right side of the SDLC timeline.
Related article: 8 Essential Bug Reporting Skills Every QA Agent Should Have
Roles are merging more than ever thanks to agile methodologies. The limits of each role are blurred as a result of continuous iteration and collaboration, having these roles being sometimes overlapped. Code developers will write the code required to make the app function properly, whilst test developers will script processes using a very unique feature, which is a cornerstone of agile testing and development, called Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD).
The application of ATDD means that code development is driven by agile testing, instead of the other way around. Results and the expertise and insights of the QA specialists will determine what will ultimately belong in the code and what will be definitely removed.
And that is exactly why QA teams are impossible to overlook when using an agile testing approach to software development
Every user story is tested and the inclusion of quality assurance into the core discussion and debate is an important part of the protocol. It is not an outsider visit that will either validate or not a code that devs worked hard to write. It is an intrinsic part of the to-do list in order to move on to the next task.
This issue with role boundaries blurring out and overlapping has been addressed by several thought leaders and authorities in the field. According to dev guru Katy Sherman in her Pulse article titled “Testing in Agile: The End of QA As We Know It” we should start labeling both developers and testers as “Software Engineers”.
Sherman states that, yes, there will be engineers who will mainly focus on developing, while others will be spending most of their time testing. But, in the end, roles are merged and seamlessly assembled into a workspace that has one ultimate and definite goal – creating high-quality software.
Related article: Web Application Testing: A Quick-Glance 7-Step Guide
Furthermore, there’s nothing wrong if coders change seats with testers from time to time. Sherman, as many other agile coaches considers this to be positive and profitable in terms of leveling up the end-product quality.
Because it doesn’t matter if we are discussing the role of a DevOp or a QA team member, the main goal is the same: to deliver good, fully functional, and appealing software that works.
So, let’s sum up what we’ve said so far about QA and agile testing
The presence of QA specialists throughout the software development lifecycle is vital because of three main reasons:
- Their role and viewpoints resemble those of the end-user, so they have a lot to say about how much the software in question is usable, consistent, safe and how well it performs in features and issues related to data integrity.
- Their presence in early developing stages and steps keeps the team focused on the ulterior mission: to create robust, high-quality, user-friendly software that product owners and customers will use and love.
- An agile-based workspace might experience inconveniences at any given moment, just like every other workspace does. But in a collaborative and interdependent team that permits QA specialists to actively participate, knowledge and insights related to business, technical and operational domains will surely be provided by the QA team because, well, that’s their niche.
As you can see, agile testing is an excellent approach for those teams and brands that want to deliver high-end results to their clients (i.e. product owners and customers). It has become an increasingly popular method in these past few years, and the trend to use this collaborative shift left framework where every software feature (or “sprint”, in the agile jargon) is tested instantly is now globally spread.
However, this highly iterative methodology may become a potential problem for some teams. That’s why tools are being built for quick and easy iteration are vital for agile-based developing offices: DebugMe, for instance, is a great solution for companies looking to seamlessly solve issues related to this ongoing iteration scheme — and it offers a free trial for all teams to try out before purchasing the full version.