7 Recommendations You Need To Adopt For Agile Projects To Be Successful

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Agile software development practices have been gaining momentum over the last few years. A recent survey by Versionone, carried out between July and October 2014, states that 94% percent of all organizations surveyed (out of 3925 responses) now practice agile.

Agile practices are preferred where project requirements change rapidly as it ensures more dynamic turnarounds. This is in contrast to the traditional waterfall approach wherein projects are well-defined with stable requirements and are long-term in nature. Implementing agile practices for software development helps clients to achieve business value consistently across the project.

Testing teams working in agile model need to adapt to rapid deployment cycles and the changes in testing patterns. Moreover, when it is a distributed testing team, project management becomes challenging. Customizing the processes and solutions to suit the broader vision of the projects does make a serious difference in managing testing for such projects. The geographically distributed testing teams working in agile environments can be successful if they consider certain best practices.

Here are the 7 key recommendations for testing in a globally distributed agile team model:

  1. Focus on people over processes & mind-set over skillset

In testing cycles for agile projects, the importance of an individual contributor or a team member increases multi-fold in contrast to waterfall implementations where the processes are more important. This calls for careful recruitment of people with not just the right skillset, but also with the right mind-set. ‘Motivated individuals who are proactive, with strong communication skills and with the ability to think out-of-the-box’ are the recipe for success.

  1. Integrate testing with the development lifecycle tightly

The end goal of any testing activity is the quality of software or application. The distinction between the creator (developer) and the reviewer (tester) becomes thinner in an agile-based distributed team model. Testing teams play a major role that considerably influences the quality of the software. Testing activity should be seamlessly embedded across the lifecycle. This integration of testing into the core development helps identify the quality risks and vulnerabilities of the project at early stages.

  1. Establish self-organizing teams

Testing teams in agile environment are encouraged to be self-organizing, i.e. self-allocate tasks; this remarkably improves the ownership for the work at an individual level for all the members of the team. This ownership along with the individual connect established within the team, among all the members, drives performance and quality across the entire project.

  1. Redefine success for agile projects

A tester’s definition of success in the traditional model is ‘identifying and fixing bugs’, whereas in the agile model it shifts to ‘delivering workable and usable shipment’ as defined. This change in the very definition of success transforms the approach and dynamics of the team.

  1. Encourage the team to communicate well

Rapid communication and collaboration among the teams are important for an effective project, particularly when it is agile and distributed. Quick turnaround to unexpected situations, adapting to the changing needs of the project and the flexibility of team members to maintain the desired project speed are some of the key elements for agile projects to be successful. Bringing in an overlap of time to a greater extent among the teams so that they can discuss and communicate, providing infrastructure for effective communication, and deploying tools to enhance communication all play a very critical role in testing to be successful for agile projects.

  1. Make documentation important

Strong communication mechanisms at each and every level go well with the fast-paced nature of testing in an agile environment. However, focusing on appropriate documentation helps accelerate the testing process, effectively manage quality issues via change management, reduce efforts required in resource on-boarding and analyze project life-cycle in its entirety. Multiple contributors – dedicated technical writers, functional experts from the testing teams, project managers and analysts – collaborate and address the need for documentation. Agile teams need to be provided with guidelines and requirements on the level of documentation and coding comments that they have to incorporate. 

  1. Organize sessions, forums, and monthly reviews

Competencies and performance of the testing teams improve drastically when healthy knowledge sharing sessions and retrospective forums are organized. It is important to give a perspective of the big picture to the distributed teams and guide them to the areas to improve. Monthly reviews besides the agile practices like daily standup, short iterations, prioritized backlogs, etc. should be implemented. Monthly reviews should focus on – the general direction of the project, lessons learned over the multiple cycles, tracking the quality of deliverables and devising proactive plans. In a way, this takes inspiration from the ‘scrum of scrums’ concept.

QA & testing has greater significance in the agile projects. When success is defined to be the efficiently working software, a mindset change is called for, which results in greater efficiencies.

Why should retailers embrace agile practices for testing?

We, at Cigniti, help businesses improve the quality of software across industries, be it Banking & Financial Services, Communications, Retail, Healthcare, Media and others.  Importantly, retail industry works on the basis of ‘first-mover advantage’ to gain a sustainable competitive advantage by establishing themselves in the market. In retail, quicker go-to-market and high-quality of products matter much to be successful.

Retailers today are embracing advanced technologies across social, mobile, analytics and cloud to tap the market potential. For their systems to be up and running 24X7, testing is important. Retail has slowly, but steadily started embracing agile practices to achieve better business outcomes.

Get in touch with us to know how our testing expertise can bring a difference to your agile projects. We are the proud sponsors of Retail Tech Conference (RTC) 2016.Contact us at the venue for your software testing challenges, we will help you achieve enhanced customer experience and improved business outcomes.