Quality Assurance (QA) testing holds a distinctive position in the software development process. Although in agile teams, no one is solely responsible for quality as developers no longer work in silos. Yet, QA testers are responsible to ensure every piece of code developed is bug-free and functions according to the business requirements. This states that QA engineers and testers should have a comprehensive understanding of each project and how to achieve it. They also need to keep a close eye on what could possibly go wrong with an application or software program. QA experts are expected to remain abreast with technical knowledge and digital innovations, so they can remain aware of the bugs or issues to watch out for. Given the job description of a QA, it is common that testers will face various challenges in their testing activities.
A Typical Agile Set-up
Agile teams write user stories and work in short iterations. They start each iteration with planning and close it out with a demo of a retrospective on how testing went. Agile testers and developers conduct a daily session to assess their progress. They work together but don’t emphasize documenting or planning anything outside of their current iterations. They work quite differently than those from the traditional waterfall environment. However, some aspects of their work haven’t changed much. Many agile testers end up following the waterfall methodology, waiting for a user story from developers before beginning their testing processes. There are a number of pitfalls to this approach such as testing in haste, incomplete testing, slow feedback, and no ownership for software quality.
More Emphasis on Other Activities Distracts QA from Testing Alone
Since the QA team leads are responsible for code quality and they spend more time with the developers, they are often caught up with tight schedules. Due to which they find time at the end of the sprint to test the features or fixes. As a result, QA teams may often have to work overtime and even over the weekends to deliver their projects in time. So the question remains how to aid QA testing in such a way that it does not affect the project timelines?
The answer is quite simple: By using a test management tool.
When QA testers begin with the test planning phase, a test management tool allows the QA team to boost their productivity. It provides a repository of test cases (that were previously constructed) to assist team members and help them save time. Testers do not require writing
test cases, they can re-use the existing test cases from the repository within the tool.
Proactively Communicate Delays to the Stakeholders
As QA is the last in line, communication issues can disrupt the QA process every now and then. However, at this point testers can utilize a test management tool’s dashboard and reporting features to remain updated with a project’s status. Once the delays and their respective risks are shared with the stakeholders, QA will know how to handle their projects better.
Delays in a software development project can be caused by:
- Inaccurate time estimation.
- Unstable environment.
- Requirements are incomplete or not well understood.
- Lack of resources.
- Conflicting dependencies.
Ways to stay ahead of these problems:
- Create a buffer with an actual time estimate.
- Re-plan the sprint.
- Communicate any sort of delay to the stakeholders.
- Begin testing as early as possible.
- Limit the testing scope.
- Create shorter user stories.
Once the major reason for the delay is identified, QA can start working on it immediately.
Unexpected Changes in the Requirements
One of the most common challenges QA teams face is unexpected changes in the project requirements. This can be frustrating for the entire team, especially for the testers. QA testers may have to redefine the scope of testing as the smallest changes to code needs to be run through multiple tests such as stability, and compatibility testing, to align it with existing code.
For instance, if there is a pending update for a browser, QA will have to perform browser compatibility testing to ensure the existing features are working even after the update. On the
contrary, if a new last-minute feature is added to the website, testers need to perform cross-browser testing to ensure that the feature works across multiple browsers.
It is natural for QA to feel frustrated and face difficulty in handling them under tight deadlines. In such situations, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to QA testing. It is possible that an entirely new feature needs to be added, or an existing feature needs to be modified due to changes in user feedback or software updates. For instance, testers may also need to modify a feature due to a recent browser update. QA should expect such instances to occur during or at the end of the sprints. If requirement changes come at the end of a sprint, QA can choose to run as many tests as possible within the time limit. Again, communication is the key to handle situations like these. It should be stated before beginning a project that last-minute changes to an application may not be fully tested within the projected delivery timelines.
Things have pretty much changed in the software development processes. Teams no longer need to work in silos, yet they experience delays in their projects due to QA focusing on testing at the end of the sprints. However, they can overcome many challenges with the help of test management tools. And they can also be sure that they do not sound unreasonable at the end of a sprint by communicating the limitations of testing in the real world. Additionally, stakeholders and developers should also be aware of what to expect from QAs and set the delivery timelines accordingly.