That success rate is also often dependent on the development method you choose. Agile development is an iterative software development methodology that is used by organized and cross-functional teams. There are many benefits of agile development including improved product quality and adaptability to changing requirements.
But to involve into an agile development process, the quality assurance method should be agile too. In this article, we are discussing what an agile QA process stands for, how it differs from other methods and how to practice it within a software team.
What is the agile QA process?
Agile development is usually performed in two-week iterations and each iteration includes a quality assurance step to it. Which means that a working product is released after every iteration, then tested and improved with the QA team’s feedback. This short-iteration mode of testing provides rapid and continuous feedback and thereby motivates the flow of software development.
According to the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) certification for agile testing syllabus, the process can be divided into five testing levels.
One – unit testing. It is the first level of agile testing done by the developer during an iteration of development and focused on verifying component levels.
Two – feature validation testing. This is done either by the developer or by the QA tester during iteration. This aims to confirm that user story acceptance criteria are met by the feature(s) of this iteration.
Three – additional feature validation testing. This is optionally performed by the developer, QA tester and a business stakeholder to make sure that the feature(s) in iteration are suitable for use.
Four – system testing. It is done by the QA tester outside of iteration to perform functional and non-functional testing taking user stories as test bases.
Five – acceptance testing. This is the final level of testing performed by users of the software after each iteration is complete. This includes Alpha testing, Beta testing, user acceptance testing etc.
Outside of these testing levels, regression testing may also be performed by building up test cases before release in each iteration.
How does agile QA differ from QA in waterfall development method?
The downside of this method is that the client or user of the software can only provide feedback as it reaches the last phase of quality assurance, acceptance testing. But by the time a product reaches the stage of acceptance testing, often more than a year of work is done on developing it. This means, developers may need to break the whole product down to change certain aspects of it based on user feedback making the process not only much harder to perform but also time and resource consuming.
On the other hand, agile quality assurance ensures frequent testing and rapid feedback from the QA testers, business stakeholders and users of the product. In agile, QA works as a part of the development team gathering knowledge on the product and its potential risks thus reducing chances of massive quality issues and saving time.
What are the best practices in an agile QA process?
1. Evaluate potential risks
2. Test as early as possible
3. Perform white-box testing
But this also raises a question on the independence of the quality assurance team.
White box testing or independence of the QA team?
In white-box testing, the QA team works closely with developers resulting in lower chances for testing in a more objective and unbiased environment.
According to the ISTQB Foundation Level Agile Tester syllabus, this dilemma can be solved by assigning an independent, separate test team to the project who will be responsible for iteration-independent activities such as automation and non-functional testing. A long-term QA assigned to the development from the beginning will understand the product closely, develop strong relationships with the team and perform QA in the agile process.
4. Perform exploratory testing
Script testing strategies used in waterfall methodology requires QAs to revise the test design and redo the tests if requirements are changed, wasting time and money. As a result, the waterfall development method is usually not friendly to requirement changes.
Exploratory testing, on the other hand, does not use test cases. Although a certain level of skill is required to perform exploratory testing effectively, it can efficiently detect bugs and save time by providing feedback relevant to users.
But the downside is that covering all the possible use cases is not a guarantee while practicing this testing strategy. That is why we recommend using both script and exploratory testing on a case-by-case basis. More important functions should be tested using the script testing method.
5. Automate test processes
Automating redundant tasks is a wonderful thing to do for any process, right? Same goes for testing and quality assurance.
To maximize effectiveness in agile quality assurance, regression testing should be automated as much and as early as possible. In an agile development environment, code is changed frequently resulting in greater chances of regression. Hence, regression testing should be done on every iteration.
As regression testing often uses prior test cases and is repeatedly performed, automated testing will reduce the workload and save time in such cases. Automated testing run at the time between pull request and deployment will enable developers to classify problems quickly and fix them even before delivery to the QA team. This way, automation can secure previous deliveries while the QA tester prioritizes recent features.
6. Understand the business side
What are the standard certifications for agile QA testers?
Multiple standard certifications are available for a QA to learn and demonstrate their ability to effectively work in an agile environment. If you are looking for the right tester for your agile team, you may look for the agile certification courses below. They are worldwide recognized certifications that represent the knowledge of how agile principles work and develop organically within an enterprise.
- Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification
- Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) certification
- SAFe Scrum Master certification
- Agile Scrum Foundation certification
- Agile Scrum Master certification
As a software development company in today’s world, Astha IT values agility. Most projects we take on are completed following agile development methods. Our quality assurance in these agile processes follow the best practices to ensure top quality in the most efficient way.
Do you need an agile QA team for your software project? We have some of the most qualified quality assurance professionals ready for a new challenge. Let us know!