Where’s QA in Agile Development?

Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

For the uninitiated, it can seem as if agile approaches are light on quality assurance. For instance, the Scrum Guide only talks about the development team, not QA roles specifically. There is no testing phase on agile projects, and they are deliberately light on documentation such as specifications and QA plans. These observations, while true, miss the more powerful alternatives in play on correctly executed agile projects.

QAs are part of the development team and engaged from the beginning of the project. They attend planning meetings, have access to the customer, and plan how to validate functionality while developers are creating it. Quality is baked in from the start, not attempted to be tested in later. Likewise, since features are developed in a sequence based on their priority; the most important elements get the most testing and exposure since they are present from the beginning.

In fact, the mechanics and processes for ensuring testing occurs—and that tests pass—are light-years ahead of traditional late-phase validation. Approaches like TDD (test-driven development), automated builds, continuous integration, continuous delivery and DevOps allow on-demand release or rollback with great reporting and analytics of the whole process. These tasks are achieved through a variety of software tools that enable regular teams to accomplish what only the best …

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"The reason why worry kills more people than hard work is that more people worry than work."

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