Importance of QA Specialist in an Agile Environment

Agile Team Work Principle

An agile team relies on greater collaboration and clear communication between the team members. Owing to the frequently changing requirements in an agile project, the designers, developers, testers and business analysts work hand-in-hand with each other.

Agile teams work to deliver products over short cycles. They embrace change and adapt easily. Flexibility, discipline, accountability and technical skills are the most important attributes of an agile team members. It is necessary to ensure that every cycle’s output is of high quality and conforms to the specified requirements.

Role of a QA Specialist

A QA specialist uses a set of tools, software and hardware systems to evaluate a product’s functionality, safety and conformance to requirements throughout its Lifecycle. An important but not the only function of a QA specialist is to design and execute Test Plans in order to deliver a bug-free product.
Not only does the QA specialist check the deliverables, but also the processes that are followed to prepare those deliverables. As a QA specialist, he/she must check the product at frequent half-finished stages and record issues/defects. It is also important for the specialists to create/manage quality checklists and operating procedures.

Expectations from the QA Specialist

A QA specialist’s role is quite diverse and demands a lot of skills and expertise. All the quality-related challenges faced in an agile project need to be handled by the QA Specialist. In short, a QA specialist must at least meet the below set of expectations:
  • Participate in technical meetings.
  • Review requirements and designs.
  • Refine requirements and provide inputs to designs.
  • Interact with business analysts to create user stories.
  • Ensure project deliverables remain regulatory compliant.
  • Encourage adoption of new agile test automation tools.
  • Ensure the data integrity standards remain in place.
  • Perform quality checks of deliverables through inspection, walk-throughs and reviews.
  • Record the quality-check results and provide recommendations.
  • Analyze and evaluate the quality related processes, methods and procedure used in project.
  • Provide areas of improvements and offer suggestions to reinforce higher quality standards.
  • Carry out application security audit and identify pitfalls.
  • Introduce new test methodologies to improvise testing standards.
  • Work with developers to ensure technical compatibility and user satisfaction.
  • Define acceptance criteria to be followed for the release of every cycle.

Advantages of QA Specialist in an Agile Team

A QA specialist must be an integral part of the agile team right from the beginning, and not just included during later stages. While the role of QA specialist is many times overlooked in an agile project, it is crucial to understand that the job of a QA specialist cannot be underestimated.
  • Involving the QA specialist from the initial stages of the product ensure that the product delivers what it is supposed to.
  • Despite short and frequent cycles, the product is of high quality, every time.
  • Quality standards and methods are followed to ensure bug-free delivery.
  • Defects, issues and problems are closely monitored and fixed to avoid recurrence.
  • Quick and useful feedback is given to the team members.
  • Process improvement techniques are implemented.
  • Staff and team members remain aware of quality standards and procedures.