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Improving Agile Testing Through Collaboration

Agile testing strategies bring many advantages to the table, including faster releases, fewer delays, a reduced risk of defects and a lower overall cost. But perhaps the most compelling benefit is the collaboration it promotes among testing teams, developers, project managers and the team leaders who orchestrate the entire process.

Agile is inherently collaborative, of course, but there are a number of ways to improve upon this foundation. Here are a few steps team leaders can take to foster a level of greater collaboration across teams and departments.

Break down silo barriers
Despite adopting an agile testing strategy, many organizations are still restricted by silos that separate key members of the development and test processes. This contributes to miscommunication, finger pointing and a number of other issues that can negatively impact the team. Testing consultant and thought leader Mike Cooper recommends identifying and actively removing these silos as soon as possible.

“The move to agile has really improved the way teams collaborate and communicate,” stated Cooper in an interview. “The old silos between development, testing and project management have been broken down. You really can’t be successful moving at an agile pace without that collaboration.”

Where do silos tend to cause problems? The most common barriers exist between developers and testers. Leaders can now use modern test management tools to analyze where delays and inefficiencies occur most, then tackle the problem head-on by facilitating better collaboration between the tester and the developer.

“Identify where silos tend to cause problems.”

Encourage communication
Simply dissolving silos between departments isn’t enough to promote collaboration on a large scale, especially since many organizations have had these structures in place for a long time. It’s important for team leaders to facilitate methods of communication, through meetings or real-time correspondence between teams and individuals.

“Shouldn’t we all be on the stage together talking about real-life experiences where testers and developers helped build great products – together?” suggested agile testing thought leader Ole Lensmar, according to an article from InfoQ. “Shouldn’t we be sitting together running tests and debugging code to create the most beautiful software out there?”

One of the best ways to promote more frequent and open communication among testers and users is to introduce behavior-driven (BDD testing) methods, as they use universal language to articulate the most pressing demands of the end user. This evens the playing field for testers and developers, allowing them to express their questions and concerns with ease and flexibility.

Improving agile testing with collaboration
Improving agile testing with collaboration

Empower users with software
Even with fewer silos and better processes, the limits of legacy create challenges for collaboration. That’s why many organizations can benefit from a revamped set of modern agile testing tools that enable better collaboration. These solutions can take the form of a test case management tool, or application lifecycle management (ALM) software that facilitates productivity across multiple teams at once.

For instance, exploratory testing software can software can help developers and testers collaborate more providing improved documentation.  In the past, testers would create documentation in a very manual and subjective way. Often times, the developers would not be able to recreate the defect given the information provided by the tester, creating tension between the two functions.  Modern exploratory testing software records everything in the testing session, including specifics about the environment where the test took place.  This helps the tester and developer collaborate more effectively and resolve software issues faster than ever before..

Finally, team leaders can foster collaboration by improving the test documentation process, which according to CEB Global, does not always translate well alongside agile principles. The more clear, complete and accessible reporting materials are throughout the testing process, the more easily teams will be able to pinpoint issues and collaborate to fix them in real time.

With these tips, team leaders can take their collaborative efforts to the next level, making the most of the agile methodology.

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