Change is hard; it’s a universal truth not many people would disagree with. When you’re forcing (or strongly encouraging) change in a group of people, it’s especially hard. Even if that group is small, there’s bound to be miscommunication, disagreement and other friction points that make the change hard to implement.
Now, multiply those difficulties by a factor of five. Now 10, 20 and so forth. This is the challenge of growing and expanding an organization. While you need to bring more people on board to fuel your growth, build a better product or improve the leadership, you also need to manage the complexity introduced by a skyrocketing headcount.
More and more teams are accepting the challenge of switching to agile QA because it saves time, improves team collaboration and results in a superior product in a consistent, repeatable way. But most of the how-to articles and strategy guides out there only focus on small teams. What about the enterprise team ready to make the switch?
Let’s look at a few software testing strategies for enterprise teams who have—or are in the process of—adopting agile QA in their organization.
Outline a QA Strategy that Is Scalable
Scalability starts early. You don’t want to set off running with a strategy that doesn’t fit your current team or is unable to expand with your team as it grows in the future. It’s key to adopt an approach that is flexible in all areas, from the technical aspects (tools and infrastructure) to team hierarchy and how resources are managed. If you don’t have a QA expert in-house, you may consider hiring a QA vendor to mentor you on testing approach, scalability best practices and team structuring.
Bring on the Right Skill Sets
Know what your business priorities are, what types of skills and technical expertise those priorities require and hire the right team for the job. With a solid team in place, you can scale up or down as needed. It helps to bring in both generalists (people who can handle a bunch of different domains) and specialists (people with a niche focus or specialty area). As you grow, your rock-star engineers will, too—they’ll move into management roles, continuing to motivate, lead and challenge their direct reports.
Choose Metrics that Make Sense
If you don’t measure progress and team output, you won’t know when it’s time to scale—or in which area that scaling is required. Be sure to invest time and care into the process of defining your success metrics, as they’ll have big implications for how your team is structured and how it grows in the future. Also be aware many success metrics focus too narrowly on code coverage and the number of tests executed. These are important numbers, but not as important as the overall quality of the product, which should be your “North Star” metric.
Automate What You Can
One of the easiest ways to scale without immediately adding headcount is to invest in automation testing. By automating regression testing and other intensively manual tests, you can free up engineers to work on higher priority projects, save more of the team’s time and cut resourcing costs. Plus, automation can help improve the quality of the product by reducing the number of human errors.
No experience with automation testing? There are QA vendors out there offering expert automation teams who can learn your product, culture and processes in no time flat.
Monitor and Maintain
If you can spare it, devoting headcount specifically to monitoring the errors and alerts that arise during testing can help expedite the rest of the team’s work. When engineers don’t have to go back and work on every little fix or patch, they can focus on driving through their higher priority workload. Nitpicking the small stuff just isn’t feasible at the enterprise level, especially if you’re employing gifted and talented engineers.
Here’s What You Need to Know
- How to Scale Your QA Team Effectively
- Involve QA as early as possible
- Design effective test strategies
- Focus less on narrow metrics; more on product quality
- Switch to smaller, more frequent releases
- Test based on real-world user experiences
- Attributes of Agile QA at Scale
- Automation is a part of the process
- Engineers take ownership of their modules
- Quality is top priority (“North Star”) of the whole team
- Strategies for Scaling QA
- Understanding business priorities
- Building a skilled team that reflects those priorities
- Creating a roadmap for troubleshooting quality issues
- Implementing technical and managerial strategies that scale
Everyone knows change is hard, especially when it requires people to work differently, work harder or work together in ways that are new, inefficient (only at first) and potentially uncomfortable.
Successfully scaling agile QA is one of the best ways to ensure you’re consistently delivering a quality product to market. No wonder why teams small, large and enterprise-level are taking on the challenge—and with these strategies, you can too.