Third Party Software Quality Assurance and Agile Development

Given the popularity of agile development, it is no surprise that we get regular requests to provide beta testing support in an agile environment. Often, the prospective client will express concern about how well third-party quality assurance can integrate into an agile environment. That is a legitimate concern, and one with which we concerned ourselves when agile became popular. Over the years though, we have learned that we can seamlessly and successfully integrate our quality assurance services into an agile development environment.

In order to do so, we learned a handful of things to keep in mind in order to ensure that these projects succeed:

Do not sacrifice thoroughness for speed. One of the hallmarks of agile is the decreased build iteration time. This schedule has a tendency to put people in a “hurry-up” frame of mind. Testers need to resist the temptation to cover their quality assurance objectives in a manner faster than that which they are comfortable. The allocated time to test each build is less. However, that is because there is generally less to test (or should be). Sometimes it is up to the third-party quality assurance firm to advocate for sufficient time to provide thorough testing.

Select the tester wisely. You can be very good at traditional testing and still not fit well into an agile environment. Agile testers need to be flexible, focused and able to work and participate well with others. Some of the best beta testers we have known are introverts and uncomfortable speaking in a group setting. Working in a more conventional “non-agile” environment, there is rarely much need for face-to-face communications, especially when an assigned Project Manager is on the team and assigned to those types of tasks. In an agile environment though, it is difficult for a tester to avoid the frequent and regular conference calls or office meetings where they will be expected to participate verbally.

Be prompt, succinct and prepared. Participants of agile environments focus on efficiency. Taking a casual or verbose approach to meetings and QA tasks can easily put you behind schedule, not to mention earn you a lot of frowns from other team members.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, some of the benefits of third party quality assurance come into play on agile projects. An agile environment has a lot of moving parts and requires more flexibility from its team members than a traditional environment. Such flexibility is nothing new to third party QA providers. The nature of our services dictates a schedule that is constantly adapting to one client’s schedule one day and another client’s schedule the next. Scaling test teams up and down is routine for us. We are set up to achieve agile milestones without missing a beat.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to a tester sitting in front of a screen, evaluating software. That is the same, whether the development methodology is traditional or agile. Either way, Beta Breakers is expertly capable of fulfilling all software quality assurance goals.

Alana

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