How to Empower Quality Assurance and Developers to Work Together
By Sourojit Das, Community Contributor - September 29, 2022
New trends such as DevOps, and Agile have taken the software engineering industry by storm in recent years. This has led to QA and Development processes being more closely coupled than ever before.
The goal of DevOps teams is usually to build, test, and deploy products seamlessly and at speed. However, there are a number of steps between them, and that’s where things can go wrong. Often when this happens developers and testers find themselves at loggerheads with each other.
Read More: How to fit QA into a DevOps setup
When a team follows the Agile methodology, they utilize user stories and work in short iterations. Each iteration has a set of ceremonies beginning with planning meetings and ending with a demo and a retrospective of the tasks accomplished in the sprint. Testers and developers are expected to host daily stand-ups to assess the overall progress and emphasize actual work done rather than extensive documentation.
Yet, some aspects have remained woefully suboptimal. In many teams testers work in the waterfall manner still, and wait for the user story handover before beginning work. This leads to the same pitfalls with bugs not being revealed on time, slow feedback cycles, and a very fragmented understanding of product ownership.
On a closer look, the majority of these things boil down to one major issue: lack of communication.
This leads to a lack of collaboration and understanding and handicaps any Agile or DevOps processes.
Common Complaints in the product development process
Given what was discussed above, there are a number of complaints that crop up in the product development team.
- Complaints about the project being finished according to guidelines but QA teams moving goalposts
It’s seen to happen to the best of teams and after working hard on a project, and completing everything to the best of their ability. While the development team might feel that the job is complete, the QA process has only kicked off and starts to find defects and issues.
Sometimes, this may be due to things breaking down in regression, or integration issues between individually well-tested modules.
- Complaints about the Dev team being unable to recreate issues raised by QA personnel.
One of the most frequent complaints of any developer is “It works fine at my end”. This can be caused by the Dev and QA teams not communicating clearly and objectively enough to understand the root cause of a problem.
Oftentimes, different deployment environments, devices, or Browser/OS configurations can lead to chaos and unreplicated bugs.
- The issues have been discovered too late to be resolved in time for the launch
DevOps is all about speed and fast feedback loops. Bugs need to be identified early enough and communicated to the dev team for a fix to be made and regression tests to run in order to get the code ready for production.
Poorly coupled processes create roadblocks to the smooth functioning of software teams.
- The QA team receives too many modules with buggy codes
QA teams are often under enormous pressure to test and verify code for production or merge. Developers might often fall into a pattern of delivering buggy code and correcting them once the QA team comes back.
This can be both a roadblock in terms of accelerating release velocity and lead to inter-departmental tension as well.
Must Read: How to Accelerate Product Release Velocity
Empowering QAs and Developers to work together
The underlying solution to all the common challenges mentioned above is to increase collaboration and cooperation between the teams and to create a common language they can all speak. BDD is all about enabling collaboration and communication, and hence achieving advanced BDD in software development can be a good way to help QAs and Developers work together.
Before, that it is important to learn about the stakeholders of software development, in order to understand what it takes to get the “Three Amigos” to work together.
Stakeholders of Software Development
The three main stakeholders in any software development project are the Business Team, the Development Team, and the QA team who are called the “Three Amigos”.
- Business Team (BA): Has the Product Owner who analyses the business needs and defines the nature of the problem being addressed by the Product.
- Development Team (DevOps): This has the developers who work on building a product to solve the identified problem.
QA team: This has the testers who validate whether the product satisfies the business requirements and that it works as expected for the entire range of expected
And once the requirements have been consolidated, it is the remaining two amigos, the Dev and the QA team who bear the responsibility to push the code into production.
Ways to empower QAs and Developers
Some ways to ensure that this happens and empower collaboration between QA Engineers and Developers are enlisted below:
- Testers and Developers should work together to ensure a test-first approach
QA teams can do so much more than simple “bug finding” activities after development has been completed. They can take an advisory role far earlier in the project lifecycle and recommend tools, techniques, and processes for streamlining development.
Setting a test-first approach at the start of the sprint helps everyone understand the basics of what is being built, what its components are, and how it is supposed to be tested. This helps prevent issues like “Complaints about the project being finished according to guidelines but QA teams moving goalposts”, and “The QA team receives too many modules with buggy codes”.
- Enable a comprehensive team mentality
A test-first approach might help prevent nasty surprises during the development process, but this is not enough to foster closer cooperation between QA and Dev teams.
A step forward is to create a structured system of collaboration for:
- Inferring the requirements, and reaching a consensus on what they actually mean. This helps in Requirements Coverage as a part of Test Coverage and helps the entire team be on the same page when the project is complete.
- Collaboration to create test cases. This is critical for the developers to understand where and how a test can fail and how to avoid these pitfalls. Also, this helps in easier bug replication and resolution.
- Reach an understanding of new features being developed. This is especially key during regression testing and subsequent release as the chance of things breaking and needing a regression fix is minimized.
- Adopt a Shift-Left mindset
Getting QA involved in the software development process at the earliest is commonly called Shift Left as this moves testing to the conventional “left” of a software development process. This encourages greater collaboration and helps to increase test coverage as testers and developers can work closely to understand the scope of what needs to be tested for product release and the entire plan can be built accordingly
The teams can coordinate together to set up the Definition of Ready (DoR) and the Definition of Done (DoD) which are effectively the entry and exit conditions for a project.
- Use Debugging tools to share bug reports across teams
As mentioned before, one of the major roadblocks to testers and developers working together remains the “unreplicable bug”
Modern tools and systems help in creating real-time detailed test and debugging reports that enable teams to coordinate with each other and sort things out.
Tools like BrowserStack offers real devices for mobile app testing and automated app testing. Simply upload the app to the required device-OS combination and check to see how it functions in the real world.
To Sum Up
There are four main benefits to empowering QA and Dev teams to work together –
- Innovation due to the exchange of ideas
- Improved productivity due to removing common roadblocks
- Increased transparency due to better communication
- And enhanced reliability due to closely coupled workflows.
Thus any diligent product leader should endeavor to get these teams in sync and see their productivity skyrocket.