How an agile testing life cycle speeds up your beta release

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Posted by Brian Borg

Without a doubt, software development projects that integrate agile testing result in faster beta release timelines and stronger product outcomes. In fact, according to CA Technologies, time to market is cut in half in an agile environment.

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But how exactly does an agile testing life cycle speed up your beta release?

Here’s what you need to know.

First things first: what is agile testing?

Agile testing is one of the core components of agile software development. It adopts the principles of continuous and automated testing in order to speed up development cycles and bring products to beta release and beyond quicker.

This approach varies greatly from more linear methodologies, like waterfall testing. In this scenario, testing occurs once the development phase is complete. This can create lengthy feedback loops that not only result in slower production timelines, but that also diminish team spirit and disengage developers.

In agile environments, testing and development operate in parallel with one another. This allows software teams to fix bugs when they are found, rather than waiting for development cycles to finish.

Agile testing: the core principles

It's generally accepted that agile testing has 10 core principles, as outlined by authors Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory in the book "Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams". These principles are:

  1. Provide continuous feedback
  2. Deliver value to customers
  3. Enable face-to-face communication
  4. Have courage
  5. Keep it simple
  6. Practice continuous improvement
  7. Respond to change
  8. Self-organize
  9. Focus on people
  10. Enjoy

This agile playbook empowers QA testers to provide valuable feedback to software teams on a regular basis. It also creates a testing environment focused on creating continuous customer value. And this is the fundamental goal of anyone working in an agile environment.

3 business benefits of agile testing

PwC reports that agile projects are 28 percent more successful overall than traditional ones. This ‘disruptive approach’ to QA testing has many benefits, including:

1. Higher-quality products

QA testers and software teams work collaboratively, continuously, and tirelessly to improve end-user value. Regular development cycles – paired with consistent testing during each cycle iteration – empowers teams to find and resolve bugs quickly. This means that products are always improved upon.

2. Predictable delivery timelines

Agile tests are conducted within the regularly scheduled development sprints. Although surprises may occur, they are spread out compared to more linear approaches and thus a higher level of predictability is maintained across the development cycle.

For example, software teams can begin setting realistic delivery expectations with customers. What's more, by prioritizing core MVP features, you can have a built and tested beta product in minimum time, rather than waiting for full product completion before you release your beta version.

3. Happier teams

It’s often challenging for software teams to deliver a product only to receive copious amounts of feedback from QA testers. This is especially true when beta release timelines are tight.

In an agile environment, though, open collaboration is key. Testers and coders address challenges together and in real time. This creates an environment driven by shared outcomes and constant problem solving, which makes for a more fulfilling workplace.

The different stages of an agile testing life cycle

Agile testing has one fundamental goal: to increase the deployment speed of new products. To do this effectively, however, it requires a strategic mindset and someone who can implement an automated and agile testing framework.

Here are the different stages of an agile testing life cycle to implement:

1. Impact assessment

At this stage, QA testers analyze the potential impact created by making a particular change to a section of a product.

Doing this before product deployment gives teams the insight they need to make safe changes without creating a ripple effect that impacts the whole product.

2. Planning

Every test you run requires accurate scoping. What metrics are you tracking? Are you highlighting blockers and prioritizing high-severity issues? Are you accurately tracking bugs that are in progress and solved?

3. Daily stand ups

We can’t emphasize the importance of clear and regular communication enough! To ensure the success of your agile testing, be sure to join scrums, host daily stand ups, and meet with the necessary stakeholders to ensure teams are on track for beta release.

4. Reviews

Agile testing is all about reviews, reviews, reviews! This stage of the agile testing life cycle involves ongoing product maintenance, continued end-user communication and (yes, you guessed it) consistent testing.

It also requires a debrief to identify what went well during the agile life cycle, and how you can improve for the next beta release. It’s not just about continuous development and testing after all, but continuous improvement as well.

What comes after beta?

A beta release is only one step in the go-to-market process; testing does not stop here. Once a product reaches a beta release, testing enters the next phase.

After a beta release, your QA testers need to dive deeper into the product to guarantee security, ensure performance, and to cater to customer usability. All of these areas must be hardened prior to public market entry, and only then can you give your product the greatest chance of success.

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