Tools to Improve QA’s interaction and involvement across the whole development life cycle
Quality Assurance should cover the whole software development life cycle (SDLC). The key is how you integrate and interact across the whole SDLC to work effectively with the other players in your project. The right software testing tools can make the difference between engaging successfully and failing.
If you need to get your team involved earlier in the project life cycle implement a peer review tool. If you struggle with receiving builds from the development team that have no traceability back to requirements, then deploy an automated build system. If you’re part of a team that’s gone agile and you need to have an effective system for regression testing work with a data driven automation framework. If you’re struggling to track status and progress in your projects then implement a test management tool. With the a handful of well place software testing tools you can make huge improvements in the productivity and effectiveness of your QA team.
Peer Review: many talk about getting the QA team involved early in the development life cycle, yet few manage it successfully. Being part of the review process during the design and specification phase increases visibility of what needs to be tested. Crucially it also gives the team the chance to influence the design and specification to improve testability. Your involvement in reviews doesn't have to be difficult or onerous. With Peer Review Complete you can participate in reviewing requirements, design and specification documents. This is absolutely essential when it comes to engaging right from the start of the project and development life cycle.
Continuous Integration: without clear control and visibility of your build and release process the QA team don’t stand a chance. If you’ve no idea what’s in the build you’ve no idea what you are working on. Consistent reliable builds, with clearly documented contents, provide the framework that the rest of the software testing operation hangs on. With an effective, repeatable build process you know what you’re work on and where your defects were introduced. You also have the key building block in an automation environment that is triggered as soon as a build is created. Ultimately though you know that what you are releasing is what you’ve tested.
Test Automation: In today’s agile development environments teams don’t survive long without automation. The key is factoring in automation at the early stages of a project (which is another reason why peer reviews are so important). With an effective automation environment, tied into your build system you free up your testers to do what they know best. Test! Not waste days on the repetitive regression work that bores the life out of so many skilled engineers in this domain.
Test Management: pulling all of this together is the ability to track, control and mange the whole software testing life cycle. With a well implemented management tool you have the ability to track and report on both manual and automated results. Linking this in with your build system helps you track progress within individual releases. Then you have visibility and reporting that gives you the essential status and progress information you need to make the release call.
For many organisations software testing is a standalone phase of a project that has little interaction with anything else. Yet the other key parts of the process are just as important to the success of your projects. In Implementing the right software testing tools you can improve that interaction with business analysts, developers and clients. Improving that interaction and communication means your QA team can help shape the quality of the deliverables across the whole project team and, crucially, from the start of the project to the end of the project.
It’s easy for QA teams to focus on the most visible part of the process with test management tools, and also to get enticed by the lure of automation. Yet when you combine all 4 aspects you start to see real benefits that ultimately give you huge improvements in the products you deliver to your clients. When you master all 4 of these aspects, with the right software testing tools, you have a process that influences the whole SDLC.
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