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Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

In a development and testing world dominated by agile testing strategies, it would appear that waterfall methods are on their way out, especially as a new generation of QA testing tools makes its way into the fold. As an article from TechBeacon recently pointed out, two-thirds of surveyed tech professionals stated that they have either fully embraced the agile philosophy, or are leaning heavily in that direction.

On the other hand, a mere 9 percent of IT pros stated that they are currently using a pure waterfall approach, or retain some remnants of that strategy with a hybrid strategy. Nevertheless, some organizations are still struggling to make the final shift away from waterfall methods and fully embrace agile in all its glory.

So, why should companies focus on moving beyond waterfall? Here are some reasons, as well as a few tips for how to accelerate this process without taking on additional risk factors.

Bigger sense of community
It’s widely known that waterfall is on its way out, but companies don’t have to go it alone as they strive to achieve a superior standard of testing and development. In fact, according to an article from TechTarget contributor Gerie Owen, there’s a widespread community that advocates the agile method and continues to innovate, supporting those who are new to the approach.

“To change a waterfall-focused dynamic, become actively involved in the agile community (e.g., a local agile user group),” suggested Owen. “Meet other agile professionals, connect with the community and learn from others within it; follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.”

Don't go chasing waterfalls.
Waterfall methods simply don’t work well for today’s fast-paced developers.

With this in mind, skeptical IT professionals can embrace the agile methodology with greater confidence, regardless of how far they are on the journey. Furthermore, many agile software testing tools have large groups of users that make it easier than ever for testers to take advantage of the strategy.

Targeted areas of improvement
Most testing and development groups use an approach that exists somewhere between waterfall and agile (known as “agile-fall”), and there is a large spectrum that accounts for many distinct hybrid strategies. In her piece for TechTarget, Owen stated that test leaders typically take a step-by-step approach to going agile, easing into the technique rather than making a massive transformation in a short period of time.

“You also can advocate for agile within your own organization, even if it does support a waterfall approach,” continued Owen. “Many agile teams don’t follow the agile model exclusively; rather, they selectively take on pieces that make sense to their unique environment.”

One of the best ways to take a proactive stance toward an agile framework is to adopt agile software testing tools that push testers and developers in the right direction. direction. For example, Atlassian’s JIRA software has replaced a lot of waterfall ALM tools and our qTest software has replaced waterfall enterprise test management tools like Quality Center. Since the solutions are designed for full-on agile use, this will help accelerate the transitional phase while making end users feel more comfortable with the new approach.

Analyze results and progress
Some tech leaders are so devoted to waterfall methods that they need a strong business case to consider a change. A good strategy is to start small with agile. Have one small group in the company try out agile development and track the results.  We’ve seen this approach with many QASymphony customers. Once leaders see the difference agile can make in terms of efficiency, collaboration and software quality, they never go back to waterfall.

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