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Major challenges in QA processes and ways to overcome them

Deepa Prajapati
September 10, 2019

As the market for IT products and services is rapidly growing, Quality Analysts are facing a lot of challenges in terms of understanding the work domain, adapting to frequent changes, maintaining quality, and making self-development a priority. With Agile gaining popularity, it is becoming more and more difficult to achieve continuous delivery and to exceed expectations, especially through traditional Quality Analysis practices.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the major challenges that QA faces in an Agile development life cycle.

Not being clear on the requirements

Although Agility brings speed and Continuous Delivery, it also brings frequent changes in requirements. Due to stringent timelines, it is most difficult to keep the requirement up-to-date, and thus the QA has to struggle with last-minute changes. Not only this but many times for smaller features, requirements are not even clear before development and QA starts. Learn about QA and Testing services

Following unrealistic timelines

Timelines/deadlines have always been tricky in Agile. On the one hand, the requirements are never frozen, and on the other hand, the sprints are short. Usually, it so happens that a large number of user stories are pushed in one sprint, due to which, development crosses its deadline, and that in turn, affects the QA timelines. This results in poor outcomes due to lack of time for end-to-end testing and regression. Bad project planning and poor estimates play an important role in creating unrealistic timelines.

Finding Defects early

Yes, it is important to find defects early in the Sprint. But does it normally happen? Testers may be able to find blockers or critical defects early through the initial smoke testing of build, but there could be some serious logical errors in the code, or the new implementation could have created severe integration issues, which are usually found during the detailed testing. Finding defects early is a normal expectation from all testers but it is also a big challenge when they have to deal with never-ending changes in requirements, poorly followed processes, and stringent timelines.

Testing an end-to-end regression

Regression testing can be time-consuming, complex and exhausting. Unless there is automation in place, regression testing can even make testers lose interest in their job! In big projects, regression involves integration testing also, which makes it furthermore complex and critical. There could be hundreds of test cases in a regression suite. Even if they are automated, it requires regularly updating the scripts. Manual regression testing may leave a lot of human-errors, which could be expected in automated regression testing too if the scripts are not up-to-date. Thus, end-to-end regression testing a big challenge for all testers.

Not compromising quality

Quality is the only thing a QA is responsible for. Then why is maintaining quality, a challenge for testers? It is because even in less time it is expected that QAs do their job 100%. Usually, a sprint lasts for 2 or 3 weeks, within that time happens the - Requirements analysis/KT, test planning, test case authoring, functional testing, regression testing, along with n-number of meetings. Many times, the development team takes longer than the estimated hours. In this case, QA already has a shortage of time within which they are expected to leave no errors! It needs talented QAs to perform thorough testing in limited timelines without any complaints!

Apart from these, there are many other challenges that the QA comes across. Challenges around - test coverage, technical skills, collaboration with other teams, utilization of tools, lack of resources, etc. persist in most QA teams and hinder their progress.

Tips to overcome these challenges

Have well-defined requirements with examples

Even if the requirements have a lot of changes through the sprint or project span, it is always better to keep the entire project team updated at the earliest. Adding examples of new changes, layouts of screens, easy to understand flowcharts, etc. in the requirements document or user stories, also helps. All kinds of communication such as emails and project meetings should be completely informative. For enhancements or change requests in sprints, the user stories should also contain well-written Acceptance Criteria and example documents wherever necessary. This way the actual requirements can be delivered to the team and mistakes can be reduced.

Make appropriate estimates

When estimates are made during project planning, they are usually not given a detailed thought. Estimates are important because they determine when the project can be delivered, or if it can be delivered within the stipulated timelines. Not establishing project timelines carefully could cause a huge loss of money, efforts, and trust. Every team in a project should be cautious while preparing estimates. Think about all the last-minute changes, risks and hurdles that could disturb your estimates. Some clients demand their projects to be delivered ‘ASAP’. But it is best not to set unrealistic timelines because it makes the resources over-worked; exhausted resources do not produce the best results.

Have smaller projects

This is one of the best practices in Agile. Smaller projects give you enough time for everything. BAs would get enough time for creating detailed FRDs, developers would get enough time for implementing as well as some unit testing, and QA will get enough time for testing end-to-end functionality and also regression. This way every team can perform their best, having complete focus on every detail of the FRD and the implementation. There is even time for a sufficient number of team meetings which helps in sharing suggestions, discussing problems and clearing out doubts.

Adhere to QA processes

The solution to most project problems is to follow standard/defined processes. Imagine a simple, yet common scenario where the tester doesn’t enter all important details in a defect. They simply add a brief description and submit. Now, how much time does it take to enter all necessary details in a defect, 2 or 3 minutes at most, after which the developer starts fixing it? But the tester didn’t spend that time. Now, think of the overall time spent when the developer breaks his head trying to understand and locate the defect, assigns it back to the tester, tester tries to enter all necessary steps, screenshots, details, etc. or even explains to the developer, and assigns it back to him, who now has enough facts to locate the defect and starts fixing it. All this time could have been saved if the QA had just followed the standard practice of entering all details in the defect! Refer this blog to learn Best practices for Testing Web Applications

Spare some time for self-development

Who doesn’t like to have skillful personnel in the team? When you save time from your project work, you can spare some time for your growth. Learn new technologies and help others too! Improve yours and your team’s knowledge of processes and domains. Become and create SMEs in your team. Conduct technical training. Indeed, talented software testers guarantee the best outcomes!

Please feel to reach out to me on my email deepa.prajapati@jadeglobal.com if your concerns are not discussed in this blog.

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