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Balancing speed and quality in agile projects

The following article is a guest post to Zephyr from Chelsey Lang, Clearvision. Clearvision is a partner of Zephyr that helps software teams and IT programs implement tools and processes that bring high quality software to the market.

In the fast-paced software world, agile teams face increasing demands for both speed and quality.

These two objectives are arguably at odds with each other. As we explored in a recent post about technical debt and the “iron triangle”: to deliver at speed, you face a choice between decreasing the scope of a project, or increasing resources and spending more. Otherwise, it’s  the quality that suffers.

See below the triangle which shows, there are conflicting trade-offs that soon become apparent in managing a development project, all of which may have an impact on quality. QA teams can have a major impact in negating this negative effect on quality.

 
 
 

quality triangle.png

The QA balancing act

Because of the negative impact an increasing demand for speed can have on quality, QA teams play a more significant role than ever.

It’s important that they are integrated with agile teams and aligned with overall business goals. Taking a business-centric approach to choosing the right tests makes it easier for testing teams to define the acceptance criteria that can be automated. Having the right levels of automation in place is a major factor in increasing speed without having to compromise on quality. By automating repetitive or particularly time consuming tests, you’ll be able to shorten the overall time of your development cycle.

The right testing trends

The balancing act between speed and quality is, in part, so important simply because of the increasingly fast pace of the tech industry. It means it’s essential to be at the cutting edge of technology trends. So what should you be aware of when trying to balance speed and quality?

Tech Beacon’s World Quality Report sets out some of the trends QA teams should be taking into consideration moving forward.

  • Growing popularity of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) methodology - this approach has gained popularity in all sectors, as it addresses large scale portfolio management, program management, release management, budgeting and multiple practices.

  • Distributed agile and test approaches - the focus is shifting to business outcomes and customer value, rather than specific tools or approaches. Multiple frameworks are often used in single projects.

  • Testing Center of Excellent - testing centers to establish a clear vision, encourage best practice and optimize testing costs are becoming more common.

  • QA from the beginning of your development lifecycle - one of the biggest challenges agile QA teams cite is “early involvement of testing team in inception phase or sprint planning”. Getting the QA team involved from the beginning will help align your testing with those all important business values, and boost collaboration between QA and development as well.

Through all of these trends, we can see that there is a common theme: to get ahead, teams need to work together, and ensure they are all aligned with the wider business strategy. It’s all about automation, collaboration, and ongoing quality assurance - this is how projects can achieve fast development cycles, without paying for it with quality.

For more information on agile collaboration and the balance between speed and quality, download Getting QA and Developers to Work Together, Zephyr’s white paper covering everything from creating a unified team to communication and automation.

Author Chelsey Lang: Chelsey is a Marketing and Social Media Executive for Clearvision; a partner of Zephyr. She writes about agile methodologies, software development, and collaboration and culture in the tech industry. Chelsey is passionate about literature, the intersection of fashion and tech, and the Oxford comma. Thankfully, Chelsey writes better blog posts than she does bios. You can read more of her writings here.