Agile Software QA Metrics & How To Avoid Software Testing Bottlenecks

An assessment of where bottlenecks commonly occur can identify opportunities to streamline testing for faster releases

Software Quality Metrics In An Agile Environment

Testers need to be thorough but risk being labeled as bottlenecks that delay release dates – particularly if testing uncovers bugs late in the development lifecycle. In this article you will learn more about identifying potential testing bottlenecks in an agile environment and the software quality metrics that can help streamline the QA process and speed application delivery.

An assessment of where bottlenecks commonly occur can identify team members or development area dependencies that keep the team from delivering against expectations. Or it can uncover faulty processes that cause delays or turn out a higher number of defects than other parts of the workflow.

Agile Software Quality Metrics Done Right

The earlier you start to measure data that tells a story about your process and performance, the better chance you have of catching bugs before they become embedded in the code. Whether you are on a weekly or monthly sprint release, the following standard metrics apply.

  1. Defect aging:
    Typically assigned upon discovery, defects should appear on a list for each sprint that summarizes the issue, notes the dates of detection and reports the status. Resolved issues move to a defect archive at the end of the sprint, but glitches or missed requirements that need attention remain on the list. For those familiar with Agile methodology, defect aging keeps teams accountable and encourages open communication between teams that may need to collaborate to solve problems. Sprints remind all stakeholders of open tickets and accelerate movement to resolution, back to requirements gathering, to a future sprint or to the backlog.
  2. Defect open/close trends:
    A cumulative view of defects opened vs. closed over time supports continuous process and quality improvement with trend data for each release. Timing parameters can highlight the rate of defect activation or termination for specific sprints.
  3. Open defects by category:
    Open defects by category provides additional understanding of the pain points in your software development process and directs managers to focus attention on these ruts in the road. Useful categories include severity, priority to the business and defects by module. New approaches to design, code fixes or other improvements can move software through planned testing to an on-time delivery.
  4. Cost per defect:
    The impact of defects and the timing of their discovery both influence what it costs to fix them. You can resolve defects found in requirement specifications, for instance, before architecture planning, well in advance development. Similarly, you can replace errors in design with re-issued documentation. But one defect in the requirements may be replicated in several places in the design and code. For that reason, defects uncovered in construction or in user acceptance consume more hours to remove and require repeat testing.
  5. Velocity:
    Velocity measures the actual effort your team expended, measured in time spent on the project, vs. how long you estimated it would take. Velocity has an obvious impact on meeting release timelines. Paired with function-specific metrics, velocity can improve with additional tools, consulting or reinvented workflows.
  6. Effort variation:
    Not unlike velocity, effort variation helps quantify actual effort vs. planned effort. The metric, observed sprint to sprint, can help keep current projects on budget and on time. It also can inform planning of subsequent software development.

Learn from Past Experiences, Improve Future Plans

Intelligent, relevant metrics drive learning about your software development lifecycle and help you control outcomes. With action-oriented data, you can stop reacting to issues and start preventing them and the bottlenecks they introduce.

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