Getting QA To Work Better With Developers

Getting QA To Work Better With Developers

With the turn of the new year, the pressure to deliver software under the infamous “unprecedented times” has never been higher. And with an estimated 22 million job losses already credited to the pandemic and work-from-home measures in place, work productivity and software development cycles suffer. All of this while many businesses are being pincered by faster-moving competition that has made their work channels flow reliably through COVID. Collaboration is more important than ever, but it’s often easier said than done.

We’re seeing a trend where management approaches centered around agile developmental standards are being brought in with more frequency than ever before. This is due to the frequency at which software and applications are being sought and naturally, without such implementations, quality is jeopardized. One such approach is DevOps.

How Does DevOps Help Collaboration?

DevOps, a portmanteau of “development” and “operations”, is a set of practices that brings together IT operations and software development. DevOps hopes to significantly shorten software development cycles while providing rapid delivery with the highest quality standards.

At its core, DevOps allows for stronger collaboration between teams to ensure quick and reliable releases to the users. This collaboration makes room for the application of agile methodologies to be implemented in the operations’ workflow. DevOps then makes it possible for everyone in the hierarchy of a product lifecycle (from the owners to the testers and operators) to collaborate throughout service lifecycles. So while DevOps has been shown to improve the stability and reliability of operational environments and releases, it can bring a few challenges to companies that wish to implement it.

The first key issue is that due to its very nature of being a collaborative medium, it requires a culture where every facet of the hierarchy cofunction throughout every phase of development. This is easier said than done in many organisations. The second issue has to do with the adoption of agile techniques. Techniques such as aggressive automation, test-driven systems evolution and comprehensive environment configuration management (ECM) are all tricky implementations. The third and final problem is the relative difficulty posed by using cloud computing stack tools and system monitoring tools.

Despite these niggles, there are a few pointers QA and your development team can implement today to work more close-knitted than before. Here are a few ways testers can improve their working relationships with developers.

1. Prioritise Quality, Not Testing

While a few testers and QA personnel see testing as a way to improve general quality standards in software, the vast majority sees it as a means to an end. QA engineers often run tests to meet the desired quota for testing, while sidelining the actual focus of the job: to improve the quality of the product. Automation testing services make the process easier but more often than not, focus more on the number of test cases executed, rather than the efficacy of the test cases themselves.

Understanding what your customers find important in the system is important and should be made the focal point of testing. Thinking like an end-user will inevitably yield better results as the shift in perspective can grant testers the opportunity for a finer look at the product. It is important for every tester to know that the general user simply either doesn’t care for the number of tests done on software or is simply oblivious to the fact that testing was even part of the due process, to begin with. At the end of the day, quality determines everything.

2. Share Responsibility

As the name suggests, this point is about the entire team sharing responsibility when the quality of the product is in question. While it is true that in an agile team, QA testers act as gatekeepers, the distinction between “us” and “them” fades away. While the developers are responsible for the code they produce, and QA responsible for testing the software, every single member of each team shares responsibility that their product pertains to the highest quality possible.

3. Approach Defects Constructively

It is near impossible to ensure you have zero bugs and defects through testing. Because of how complex today’s software and systems are, defects will always be present and likely escape the notice of QA engineers. External users often find these and regardless of how rigorous your testing standards and procedures are, they will continue to linger. The important thing to note is that playing the blame game at this stage of development won’t do any good. It’s important to learn from the bugs and errors and try to sort them out in future builds and releases. 

Most QA engineers conduct risk-based testing and user flows and these are usually higher in priority. There are times where consulting product management, stakeholders and customers is an important part of highlighting the key areas of testing and if some defects were to slip through, a debrief is conducted. This involves the reasons for the error, how it “escaped” and ensure tighter measures to counter such defects in the future.

4. Bring Transparency Into Workflows

Transparency helps an organisation’s core functionality more than any other facet. This is especially true when collaboration is required in an agile team. It mustn’t come down to assumptions when you’re figuring out what your developers or testers are up to, and neither should it be the case between them either. Clear communication lines are essential.

These invisible channels also help developers know what details matter to the client and to yourself i.e. the management. A good way to get this up and running is by organising bug-hunt days with the help of QA engineers. This helps put more emphasis (and eyes) on scrutinising the software for any defects and errors.

5. Heavy-Handed Approaches Don’t Work

There are times during testing when QA will often discard a feature due to a myriad of reasons. Usually due to poor quality. This approach hurts the chance of said feature ever being released to the public and gets the development team on QA’s bad side.

A good work-around for times where features are of poor quality is having a team dedicated to working on improving it. Once a sufficient quality level is achieved, the feature can be released in presets. Marking such features as “beta” or “early access” can help set user expectations and allow them the reassurance that work is going on to improve it in the background. This way, the users get their features while QA and the development team benefits from their feedback on it.

To Sum Up

Agile methodologies, DevOps, and automation testing services have all been responsible for the streamlining of workflows in development firms across the world. But understanding how to get specific departments of your company to work like a well-oiled machine takes time and practice. With our helpful pointers in mind, your QA and development team can be on their way to greater collaboration thus, yielding better results for your company in the long run.

If you have any more suggestions on how to get QA and developers to lock heads and work together better, let us know in the comments below.