Any agile team leader can tell you that teamwork is essential to delivering great software and that agile teams rely on greater collaboration and clear communication between the team members. Owning to the frequently changing requirements in an agile project, the designers, developers, testers, and business analysts work hand-in-hand with each other.
Agile teams work to deliver products over short cycles. They embrace change and adapt easily. Flexibility, discipline, accountability, and technical skills are the most important attributes of agile team members. It is necessary to ensure that every cycle’s output is of high quality and conforms to the specified requirements.
Despite sharing common values, there is no formula for the perfect agile team. Even though most agile teams possess all the required skills, more often than not it is necessary to call on specialists for specific work and a QA specialist is one of them. It involves testing from a customer point of view and it is performed from the early stages of the agile software development life cycle. The role of a QA specialist in an Agile Scrum Process is not about finding bugs, not about simple testing. It is to prevent defects and therefore ensure the quality of the development process and its results. This is a broad statement, and in this blog, I will try to cover a few specifics to give an insight into what does a QA specialist stand for in an agile environment.
Skills and Expectations from the QA Specialist
A QA specialist's role is quite diverse and demands a lot of skills and expertise, but above all else, they should be able to identify defects aka bugs, a flawed piece of code that causes the system to fail to perform its required function.
Here are a few skills that QA specialists possess and the business value their work brings.
Face – To – Face Communication
Face to face discussion with the development team is the most efficient way for QA teammates to communicate ideas all the time. They participate in technical meetings, like Release Planning in the Sprint, where major discussions take place. Also, the design meetings are usually held before the sprint planning is done and attending these helps the QA team hone their ability to think creatively all the time.
Ability to Work as Part of a Team
Quality assurance is definitely a team effort, so a key QA skill is the ability to work as part of the team. The QA Specialist needs to understand the work that others in the department do and how it impacts their own. This understanding helps the QA team collaborate with each other and achieve greater quality standards.
Attention to Detail
The attention to detail ensures all the tasks are completed to the business’ specifications. Getting seemingly minor details correct every time can prevent major problems from occurring further down the supply chain. It also prevents tasks from needing to be redone or revised to meet requirements later. Solving bugs does not always mean that something does not work. It may just work incorrectly. This is why a QA specialist is an essential part of software development and this is how we operate at Nebb Group.
Problem-solving skills help the QA specialist find solutions if they are struggling to meet the required quality standards. Identifying weaknesses and inconsistencies in the product at all project stages is quality indeed. It is a combination of creativity, logic and critical thinking that can serve them well when challenges arise.
QA teams help meet clients' demands and expectations most fully. Skilled QA Specialists are trained to think from a customer’s perspective throughout the entire software development cycle. They are able to create many “What if” scenarios and make sure the software responds to each possibility. This way, when the customer encounters one of these scenarios, the software will continue to work properly.
Test Case Design
Test cases provide the materials for how a QA Specialist assesses the system. Test cases should be detailed, well-structured and give comprehensive information about the level of quality of a product. QA Specialists design and write these specifications, and the better they are at test case design, the better they can ensure these test cases satisfy software requirements. QA Specialists must understand the purpose of a test case, as well as the level of specificity it requires.
Exploratory testing is simply put a new way of thinking. This skill is a very useful and powerful method in the agile process. Exploratory testing is used to check the system on the fly and the QA team performs this kind of testing to avoid risks and uncertainty in the product. It is all about discovery, investigation, and learning. The QA Specialist can get ideas from the initial design discussions and the meetings with the team to uncover the problems and discover more in the system.
DevOps & Agile Methodology
With the pressing demand to meet delivery deadlines, QAs need to learn Agile & DevOps methodology due to the fact it promotes collaborative and iterative working models. While Agile methodology imparts speed to the test project, DevOps helps with cross-functional teamwork right from the development, analysis, and QA which yields high-quality product at a faster time-to-market. Moreover, learning these methodologies removes the role rigidity and silos, allowing teams to pay close attention to phase-wise development and continuous releases.
Testing Tools & Techniques
It is necessary for every QA Specialist to be aware of different testing techniques and utilization of tools. Regardless of the domain and application type, the knowledge of different testing types like black box testing, automation testing, security testing, system testing, etc. makes QAs versatile and helps the teamwork simultaneously across multiple projects. Moreover, with the number of marketing tools such as bug tracking tools, test management tools, GUI testing tools, automation tools, etc. it is also important for QAs to get the knack of these tools to meet different requirements and tackle complexities in the project.
With the increasing complexities and integrations in the application, relying on manual testing alone cannot get the job done. For regression testing, performance, headless as well as database and integration layers, QAs should possess automation skills since they impart higher accuracy due to the business logic and technicalities. In addition, there are several test automation tools that dedicatedly support a specific testing type and come with features to get the tasks done quickly and efficiently.