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Quality Assurance in Agile Software Development

The approaches to and opinions about quality assurance in an agile software development are varied and contentious. Some teams would argue that there is no role for quality assurance in a properly run agile software development team. Others would push back and state that it’s impossible to guarantee quality without having dedicated quality assurance agile team members.

Quality assurance in agile software development can be considered a grey area. There is no definitive – do this, don’t do this, and always make sure this. Just like everything in agile, quality assurance and how it does or doesn’t happen is up to the team and company. But one thing is guaranteed – quality has to happen – it’s how this is achieved that makes the discussion about quality assurance a hot topic.

You don’t need to be told that you need people on your agile software development team who are responsible for ensuring a quality product. You don’t need to be reminded that agile tries to minimize processes and tools and focus on the individual. You don’t need to be told over and over again that done has many different meanings and applications.

There is no right or wrong way to succeed with quality assurance. It’s in the doing, adjusting, and calibrating that your team will find the right approach to quality assurance. It could be a variation of pair programming, a focus on test driven development, a complete focus on test automation, end-to-end testing, or a combination of the best of each approach.

Since we can’t tell you exactly what to do, we want to give you some ideas on how to use quality assurance within your software development team. Whether you’ve got a new team or are new to agile or are struggling with defining roles within your agile software development team, use this article as a conversation starter, jumping-off point, or blueprint of quality assurance ideas.

The Agile Manifesto and Quality Assurance

At first glance the principles of the Agile Manifesto appear to be in polar opposite of quality assurance methodologies. However, as with all things agile, the Agile Manifesto is open to interpretation.

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Team, team, team – this is the very essence of agile software development. When your quality assurance specialist are part of the agile software development team they can be involved, collaborating, and communicating – all with a focus on ensuring quality.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation. Traditional waterfall quality assurance relies on heavily detailed test plans and documentation. In an agile team, this translates to the quality assurance experts spending their time doing testing and providing feedback, rather than writing test plans. Of course, there does need to be a way to track testing, but this can be done with one-line test scenarios, error checklists, risk-based testing, exploratory testing sessions, or user stories with integrated test markers.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. In an agile quality assurance team, the focus is 100% on the customer – both external and internal customers. Often times because the quality assurance expert knows the product better than anyone else on the team, this person becomes an advocate for the customer. Think of the quality assurance team as a customer and you’ll get some real insight into the software quality.
  • Responding to change over following a plan. Change can be hard for anyone on an agile team, but with a well-organized approach to quality assurance, change is welcomed and encouraged. After all, it’s through quality assurance that areas for improvement are identified, blockers are found, and in some cases the need for a complete redesign – all of which drive change in the product, iteration, and company.

There is a reason why the Agile Manifesto remains relevant – it is the foundation for how agile companies think, respond, communicate, and thrive. The key is in making sure that there is flexibility in how these guide posts are interpreted and applied. There is nothing absolute or rigid in the Agile Manifesto, making it an ideal springboard for thinking about how quality assurance fits into your agile software development approach.

Four Ways to Integrate Quality Assurance in Agile Software Development

Your team is asking for advice on how to improve the role of the quality assurance team. Your managers are asking why you need to hire more quality assurance staff. You want to make sure that quality is still the focus and driving principle of your entire agile software team.

Sometimes it takes knowing how to do quality assurance better – the following four points can serve as a way to get your team thinking about how quality assurance can and should be integrated.

  1. Understand agile software development. As we highlighted above, team is integral to agile success. Make sure your entire team understands agile software development – the intentions, foundation, and guiding values. Knowing this helps keep the focus on the team, communication, and quality.
  2. Remember to collaborate. In waterfall, testing and quality assurance happens at the end of the development cycle. The opposite is the case with agile software development, quality assurance can happen concurrently and from the very beginning when requirements and user stories are defined. Keep your developers and quality assurance people working together to support communication and collaboration.
  3. Flexibility to different approaches. All too often teams get stuck in doing development and testing with one prescribed methodology. Agile software development is designed to allow for more – support your quality assurance team in being involved from the beginning, in testing features before they’re code complete, getting quality assurance involved in UX reviews, and in any other area. Be flexible in how you think of the role of quality assurance in your team.
  4. Nothing is perfect. You’re not going to get it right every time. Just because the last iteration was a success, doesn’t mean this one will be. Just because pair programming helped eliminate defects on another project, doesn’t mean the same will happen for your project. Remember, to be open and ready for change, challenges, and rooms to improve. Learn to look for the root causes rather than focusing on the obvious glaring problems.

Successful agile software development is a journey. There are twist and turns, missteps, and second chances. Don’t get caught up in getting things done perfectly – people are going to react differently to change, people won’t want to try pair programming or end-to-end testing, people won’t want to collaborate freely – this is all part of figuring out how to make agile work for your team.

It is important through-out the discussions on how quality assurance fits into your agile software development team that you remember that the customer and quality must be the focus. How you get there is up to you – just make sure you’re doing it in the way that is best for your team, your customers, and your organization’s goals.

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Improve Your Health Using Technology: Here’s How

Improving your health using technology focuses on areas where technology, diet, and nutrition have a direct influence on the health and wellbeing of an individual. Oftentimes, we feel that improving our overall health takes a long time, but it’s really a matter of making small changes in our everyday habits. 

A lot of researches have shown the impact that technology can have on individuals wellbeing and health. With information right at our fingertips, we can all do something to improve our quality of life by simply making smarter decisions about what we eat and how much activity we are getting. Here are some vital tips:

Register with a private GP online

Patients can ask questions to speak to a GP online in the privacy of their own place and at their own time. This is extremely useful for those who are too ill to be able to make it out to their local surgery or for those who don’t have the time take a trip to the doctor in person unless absolutely necessary.

Use fitness and nutrition tracker

The importance of fitness and nutrition tracking technology in improving your health is the ability to have devices that will make it easier to understand what you’re eating and their nutritional value. This way, you can track how much you’ve consumed and nutrition you’re getting, plus your heart rate, your blood pressure, and even your sleep cycle. 

With this technology, you will be able to see the progress you make over a period of time and know exactly how to approach things to step by step to improve your overall health.

Utilise preventative healthcare

Preventative healthcare is the second most effective way to improve your health. Preventative healthcare helps to prevent illness and detects medical issues early enough so they can be treated before they become serious conditions. Remember, the point of using technology to improve your health is to assist you in being proactive towards your health. 

Get yourself a wearable device 

Wearable technology is a new and innovative way of presenting information, allowing you to obtain real-time feedback on everything from your heart rate to your physical activities.

A wearable device can continuously monitor your vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, etc., and sync this data with a smartphone or other mobile devices using Bluetooth technology. Wearable technology with proper applications will assist you in keeping healthy and fit.

Register for Online Personal Training

Online personal training can help you improve your health in ways you never thought possible, leveraging technology. An online programme lets you achieve healthy living while staying in the comfort and convenience of your home, making it much more efficient than traditional programmes. 

No matter why you want to improve your health and wellbeing, technology is a key part of health in today’s society. This article has outlined some of the many ways this can be of great benefit to you.

Alcoholic Answers: How Long After You Stop Drinking Beer Does Your Body Heal?

If you could stop drinking beer for a while and reset, how long would it take your body to heal?

Many people who drink have wondered about this topic, especially when finding their drinking habits slipping beyond their control. We know about the harm alcohol can do to the body, but this often isn’t enough willpower to fuel a cold-turkey reboot, even though our bodies would thank us for it.

Here are the facts: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) affects over 14 million adults in the U.S. alone. Knowing this, it’s safe to assume that quitting is an incredible challenge, but a worthwhile endeavor nonetheless.

Keep reading to learn more about what happens to the body when you stop drinking beer.

What to Expect When You Stop Drinking Beer

Whether you’re a recovering alcoholic or just a semi-regular beer drinker, you might notice some significant changes in your body as well as your mood when you stop drinking beer. Depending on your previous intake, these will vary in levels of intensity.

1-14 Days After Quitting

The first two weeks after you stop drinking beer are said to be the most difficult. This is because the body begins going through an acute withdrawal phase, with symptoms that might make you want to abandon your sobriety goals.

Here are some common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

  • Insomnia and/or trouble sleeping through the night
  • Problems with sexual function and performance
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Depression
  • Intense cravings

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can start within 6 hours of having your last drink. They might also last well beyond 14 days. Again, this depends on how much you were drinking before, and your individual body’s ability to heal.

30+ Days After Quitting

Once you’ve passed the first two weeks when you stop drinking beer, the positive changes start to take effect. Your body completes the initial detoxification stage and begins to heal.

You can expect the following effects:

  • Steady reversal of liver damage
  • Decreased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease
  • Improved cognitive abilities
  • Weight loss

The good news is this: many of the negative effects of drinking are reversible. Once you can stop drinking beer, your body is able to heal itself.

Will I Lose Weight if I Stop Drinking Beer?

When compared to hard liquor, beer has a higher tendency to affect your body weight. This is due to it generally being a more calorie-packed drink than most hard liquors.

With that in mind, the short answer here is yes, you will lose weight when you stop drinking beer. However, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet with a moderate calorie intake, as well as get plenty of exercise. If you replace those excess calories by eating more, for example, then you may not experience any weight loss at all.

Knowing When to Quit

The pleasures of drinking beer are undeniable, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. It’s important to evaluate the role of beer in your life and how it has affected your health. Now that you know more about what to expect when you stop drinking beer, quitting can be that much easier.

For more health and fitness topics, please see our other articles.