Software QA FYI - SQAFYI

Key Points for Unlearning

By: Madhu Venantius Laulin

When quality assurance teams and management who have adopted Agile practices first put the ideas to work, they face a significant impediment in unlearning the traditional mind-set and practices that experience in traditional practices has instilled in them.

The following are some of the key aspects that need to be unlearned before attempting to deploy Agile practices, from a QA perspective:
The testing team needs to be independent and independently empowered in order to be effective.
Without a separate test strategy and test plan, it's tough to manage testing.
The V-model for verification and validation cannot be applied in an Agile sprint.
Independent testing teams don't do white-box testing.
The value of testing is realized only when defects are logged.
Automation is optional and is required only when regression testing is needed.
Testing nonfunctional aspects, such as performance of the system, is not possible in a sprint.
Testing must follow planning, specification, execution, and completion sequentially.
We don't have to write new test cases for detected defects.
Poorly written code is not the testing team's focus, as long as the code addresses the required functionality.
Test-process improvement models do not address aspects of Agile testing.
Let's look at these assertions one by one.
The testing team needs to be independent and independently empowered in order to be effective.

Traditionally, testing teams have had followed different organizational styles: having no independent testers while developers perform the testing, having independent testers within the development teams, having independent testing performed by a separate division within the organization even outsourcing independent testing. Often the testing team would like to be empowered and report directly to a senior project manager rather than to the development or the technical lead. The logic, or at least the perceived logic, is to allow the testing team to report and escalate technical defects without potential inhibitions from the technical lead.

The Agile testing mind-set change that's required is that the testers are an integral part of an Agile team. Their focus is to deliver a quality shippable product at the end of each sprint and to achieve the "done" state for the backlog items committed without any technical debt. The testers report to the Agile team and are accountable to the product owner or the business.

Without a separate test strategy and test plan, it's tough to manage testing.

A test strategy document can typically be defined at the organizational level, the division or portfolio level, or even at the product level. Seldom must the test strategy be defined for each project, unless the project is large and the duration spans many years. The project-specific test approach is documented in the test plan for the project.

In the case of Agile projects, the test approach can be documented in the release plan, and the sprint-specific testing activities during sprint planning. A separate test plan may not be required. However, having a test strategy at a level higher than the project could be useful, especially when the organization is undergoing transformation to Agile. The test strategy can define the Agile testing practices and the techniques to be followed across the organization or division; subsequently, Agile teams can adopt one or more of these practices while defining the test approach in the release plan for the particular project.

The V-model for verification and validation cannot be applied in an Agile sprint.

Within an Agile sprint, verification and validation are addressed by adopting Agile practices, such verifying whether INVEST criteria for documenting requirements is followed, creating and reviewing evocative documentation and simple design, reviewing visual modeling, holding daily stand-up meetings, reviewing radiator boards, following continuous integration, refactoring, running automated development tests and automated acceptance tests, holding focused reviews, and enhancing communication by having the product owner and customer on the team.

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Key Points for Unlearning