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6 Tips to Improve Collaboration Between Software Developers & QA

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Collaboration requires communication. At least, effective collaboration does! Without supportive communication practices, even the most well-planned project can turn into a confusing jumble of “who’s done what, who’s doing what, and what are the specific issues that need prioritized?”

How Important is Good Communication?

The core difference between software quality assurance (SQA) and developer teams is their focus. Developers write code to address functions derived from business requirements. Software QA is focused on creating and implementing methods to improve the overall development sequence. Yet both teams share the common goal of producing an error-free product.

These distinctly different inputs into meeting user expectations require a collaborative software QA and development team, in order to meet business goals. Much like a strong marriage relies on open and honest communication, so does the relationship between QA and Dev. By recognizing this need and implementing strategies to facilitate communication, teams can achieve greater speed, better quality, and increased ROI.

Let’s look at some ways an organization can enhance collaborative communication to smooth and speed the development process.

1. Create a Culture of CollaborationCollaboration between software QA and Developers

From initial idea to deployment, the act of creating a successful app or platform is much like creating a masterpiece of art. Here though, there’s more than one artist at the canvas. Organizations can do much to further cross-team collaboration simply through promoting a collaborative culture. Quality is everyone’s responsibility. Involve both software QA and developers in the build process from start to finish.

2. Use a Flexible Collaboration Tool

Face-to-face communication always feels more comprehensive, and works well if teams are within shouting distance. But what happens when your teams aren’t co-located — when it’s more than a walk down the hall to ask a question or resolve a sticking point? If your organization relies on endless email threads, clunky spreadsheets, or outdated work-sharing platforms (think SharePoint) to manage projects or remote teams, it might be time to take a look at the latest, and very robust, world of project management apps.

You’re probably aware of Slack, but have you tried workflow management apps designed for more than just communication? Two of the hottest platforms right now are Trello and Wrike.

Trello boards are readable-at-a glance, scalable, supremely flexible, and easily maintained. With Trello, you can share user stories or customer research, create test units, track and triage testing, or groom your backlog and keep on top of release planning.

Wrike, built specifically for enterprise level collaboration, offers a suite of functions similar to Trello. Of course, there are many other workflow management options available. A management app may be just the thing to keep your QA and dev teams on the same page!

3. Create Visibility

When project activity is visible to all teams and team members, collaboration and trust are improved. Don’t assume your developers, software QA team, or any other stakeholder knows what the others are up to! (Because you know what they say about assuming…) Here, making that assumption could lead to duplicated efforts, wasted time, or working at cross-purposes. Sharing process updates and details means your teams can focus on priorities and anticipate each others needs. A great way to facilitate visibility is (you guessed it) workflow management apps.

4. Share a Common Language

When QA and developers hold a mutual understanding of each other’s processes they are able to communicate more effectively, leading to better performance. Cross-training also enhances each team’s ability to anticipate the other’s needs. Developers who understand QA processes and tools can tailor their code to ease the testing process. Integrated QA teams with code-level knowledge are better prepared to identify potential problem areas of the app, and are better able to communicate their findings to the Dev team. If your developers help your QA team understand their code, and your QA team helps your developers understand test strategies, this mutual understanding will set the team as a whole on the path to speedy deployment.

5. Prioritize Bug-Fixes Based on Business Goals

From project manager to software QA and Dev team members, each should understand the user needs of your software. This ensures your team has a big-picture grasp on both satisfying customers and meeting business goals, which then allows for prioritization of bug fixes. Once the big-picture is understood by all involved, your teams can meet business goals by working together to tackle issues and find solutions to the most critical barriers to deployment.

6. Embrace Business Driven Development

Business driven development (BDD) is another build approach that reverse engineers code from specific business requirements. In BDD, QA creates test cases from requirements, then developers run the tests and create their code based on test outcomes.This method shortens the feedback loop, allowing developers to deliver user stories that exactly match business requirements.

Finally- Remember the Goal

Both testing and coding are a means to an end. Both are often difficult, and occasionally frustrating. It’s important to remember that everyone is working towards the same goal; to release great software. Collaborative planning and communication eliminates finger-pointing while fostering idea exchange and understanding. Implementing one or all of these tips will set your organization on a path to innovation through collaboration.

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