Three Strategies to Ease the SDLC Burden on Your QA Team

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Click to learn more about author Drew Horn.

Speed kills. And for most aspects of your software development lifecycle (SDLC), that’s a good thing. Agile, unsurprisingly, is the methodology of choice to increase the rate of development and release velocity. But speed can quickly become an issue for your QA team. As fast as you’d like to release products and features to market, users still demand high-quality experiences. Even if release velocity is increased exponentially, it is only valuable if quality is maintained.

This need for speed results in overworked QA teams that are testing more than ever, faster than ever, but without additional resources. It’s something that cannot be ignored. Overworked QA teams can lead to increased employee turnover, tester fatigue, and bugs escaping into production, all of which can have a disastrous impact on product quality.

The diversification of platforms – browsers, mobile devices and operating systems (Android, Windows, iOS, etc.) – and new devices like smart speakers pose significant challenges for internal QA teams. These experiences require dedicated teams with broad skills and bigger budgets – things few internal QA teams have to spare.

Finding a Solution

It is clear something needs to be done to expand the capabilities and test coverage of internal QA teams. Outsourcing testing to large system integrators with device labs in India is often the first thing to come to mind for teams looking to offload some testing tasks. While outsourcing firms can help with testing capacity by increasing the amount of people running tests, they are still not using the devices or apps in the real world, since these approaches are lab-based.

Rather, outsourcing is a static solution to the problem: costs may be fixed, but it can take a long time to fully ramp up, and there is no visibility into who is doing the testing. The outsourcing approach also doesn’t account for real-world scenarios or the exploratory testing necessary to catch edge cases and unexpected customer journeys.

There is hope, however. Companies are finding that changing the way they think about testing can free up their QA teams to work on higher priority tasks, while maintaining their focus on getting products and updates out the door faster. Here are three strategies companies can use to ease the burden on QA teams:

Strategy One: Crowdtesting

Crowdtesting utilizes real users, on personally owned devices, in real-world environments to test applications, products and software. These testers can be segmented by demographic – age, location, device, etc. – and expertise – usability, accessibility, payments, etc. – to give internal teams the exact test coverage they need from both a device and geographic perspective. This ensures that no matter where customers live or what device they are using, they get a great experience each and every time.

Crowdtesting gives internal QA teams the test coverage they can’t get anywhere else, while helping them keep up to speed with development demands. The approach takes little time to ramp up and is infinitely scalable. If, for example, a company needs to test a specific function on a specific device type 30 times, they can use 30 different testers to get the job done quickly and efficiently, as opposed to using a single tester to go through the function 30 times by himself. This kind of flexibility allows internal teams to scale testing as needs vary release-to-release.

Strategy Two: Test Automation

Test automation is one of the main ways companies can reduce the workload of internal teams. And companies are catching on across every industry. In fact, use of automation grew 85% across all verticals over a two-year period, according to KPMG.

Automation helps improve the efficacy and efficiency of internal teams in multiple ways. Not only does it speed up the testing process, it also offloads some of the lower-priority tasks – like smoke and regression tests – that don’t require a human touch. The advantage of this (aside from giving the QA team time to breathe) is that it frees up time for manual testers to do more exploratory testing to find new, complex issues that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Strategy Three: Beta Testing

Beta testing is the practice of releasing a product to a subset of users prior to a full launch. It is a common tool for many large companies, including Google, which uses beta testers on its Google mobile app for the Android operating system. It is important to remember, though, that beta testers are not professionals. The cheap, or often free, nature of beta testing is attractive to brands, but it also means response times and bug quality can be poor because participants aren’t hugely incentivized to complete the tests. While most brands can benefit from some form of beta testing, those with more loyal users will get more feedback, and therefore better results.

Which Approach Is Right for You?

Each approach has the potential to speed up testing to keep pace with Agile development, lightening the load of QA teams along the way. These strategies are not mutually exclusive, either, and can be used in tandem with one another. The right testing approach, or combination of approaches, will depend on your organization and factors like size, testing maturity, internal processes, etc. Whichever approach you choose, it is vital to remember that speed without quality is not worthwhile. The two must be maintained together, or else you risk alienating customers and damaging your brand reputation.

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