If you read my last blog, you might remember that I mentioned that some people thought that Agile had killed QA. Well, here we are again. In this blog, we are talking about the possible demise of another aspect of traditional testing. This time the aggressors are Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. The victim is manual testing. Will Machine Learning and AI replace manual testers? The short answer is no. The longer answer is heck, no! My money is on manual testers continuing to add value no matter what Machine Learning and AI bring to the table.
The QA process in agile differs greatly from QA in traditional testing, such as in Waterfall. Agile has changed the way we think of software quality. In fact, I have read rumblings in the blogosphere that Agile has killed QA. I promise you Quality Assurance is alive and well on agile teams. It just looks different than what most of us are used to. I think people who have promoted the “death” of QA in agile are not looking closely enough at what is really happening. Traditionally, testing was the only task people associated with measuring quality.
In the last blog, we made the case that everyone on the agile team owns quality and provided some ideas on how team dynamics can help build quality into the product. In today’s post, we will discuss some additional ideas on how your software QA teams can work together and ensure quality is on the forefront of everyone’s mind when building a product.
Once upon a time, in the land of Waterfall, the business analysts wrote the requirements, the developers coded the requirements and the Testers tested the requirements. Each of these people sat in his/her ivory tower, um, silo and did that which they had always done since the beginning of time. Quality was thought to be synonymous with testing, and therefore was considered to exist solely in the Tester’s realm.
Are you an experienced tester who has recently joined an agile team? Maybe you have testing experience but until now it has only been on traditional waterfall projects. Are you going through the motions with this new way of doing things but don’t feel like you’re completely invested? Do you even feel like you’re adding value to your team?
After 20 years in quality assurance, I’m still surprised to hear about companies that don’t have formal QA processes. Even more surprising are the companies that say having a QA function is not necessary. Maybe they are a newer tech company with a tiny, tight-knit development team and the software complexity hasn’t reached a level where defects reach a critical mass or perhaps the company doesn’t support a formal process even though it’s happening in some manner. For me, it is akin to saying breathing is not necessary.
I spent eighteen years testing before I ever worked with agile. When I suddenly found myself transitioning to an agile team after all that time, I thought, How hard can it be? I’d always had a strong work ethic and the ability to handle multiple priorities well. Agile would be no problem, right?
My work ethic and multitasking abilities flew out the window initially when I was thrust into my first agile environment. I thought I knew what “fast paced” meant, but I wasn’t prepared for the hamster wheel moving at the speed of light.
Once upon a time, in a far-away land, there was a QA analyst who wanted to please both her manager and her agile team. Pleasing both seemed mutually exclusive at times. This QA analyst consulted at a client organization that thought it had implemented agile, but the result was more Scrummerfall than true agile. Often, the requests received from the manager seemed in direct conflict with the analyst’s commitments to her agile team. The analyst felt the requests not only slowed her down, but also didn’t provide much value.