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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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Types of Fences for Front Yards

We are going through a huge boom of home improvements at the moment and everyone seems to be getting in on the act of improving their house or garden. Why not? We have spent enough time in them over the last year or so. The first impression people tend to get from your house is the fence for your front yard. All of your home and garden improvements can have a cherry on top by purchasing a practical and new looking fence. Below I have included different types of fences that will help you make your decision.

Timber Fences

If you are interested in purchasing a new fence, the first thing you will need to think about is what materials you would like for the fence itself. The most popular options tend to be timber fences and the type of timber is something you need to consider based upon your budget, how long you ideally want your fence to last and how big you want your fence to be.

A timber fence is most people’s go to, it provides the privacy and restriction needed whilst looking the part. It is a lot easier to customise compared to other materials also, in terms of timber fences Australia really likes to get creative. White or brown? Not necessarily, give your fence a snazzy look by painting it whatever colour you like. Wooden fences do tend to take longer to fit but worth it in the long run as it holds a long sturdy life expectancy.

PVC Fencing

PVC Fencing is an option if your budget is forcing you out of other materials. Granted it isn’t the sturdiest of options for fence material but it does the job that it’s supposed to. The cost is reduced as there is less timber being used on the fence. The PVC sleeves are attached on top of wooden posts and still come in a variety of colours and sizes. Definitely an option for you if price comes into play.

Wrought Iron Fencing

On the other scale of fencing, a pricier option is wrought iron fencing. Coming in many alternative designs, iron fencing offers beautiful and extremely strong fences that will draw the envy of your neighbours. The image and strength also provides a high level of security to your home. The down side of iron fences compared to say timber fences is that they have a fairly high level of maintenance to keep its aesthetically pleasing image.

Chain Link Fencing

This may not be the most aesthetically pleasing fence but a chain link fence can be extremely practical depending on your home or business. The privacy and security they provide is pretty much nonexistent, however they are very low cost, durable and are very low maintenance. It really does depend on what is needed and what you prefer for your home.

And Finally…Get Quotes

If you are still unsure about what type of fence to get, speak to professionals and get a quotation. They will ask you questions about the purpose of the fence and will be able to help point you in the right direction. Typically when it comes to timber fences Australia has various options on what works best for you. Most importantly you will be able to get that all important price.

Why You Need a Carport

Carports are a very popular option for car storage and today we are going to take a look into exactly why this is a construction which you should consider. 

The term carport originally was used to refer to a passageway through which cars would travel through upon entering a building. Genius architect Frank Lloyd-Wright saw something else in this external construction however and since his own interpretation, the carport has grown in popularity and evolved in its design. When it comes to carports Melbourne is full of them, because residents here understand the range of benefits which can be found after building one. 

These lean-to or independently built structures outside the home provide the perfect place to leave your vehicles, and here are just some of the benefits of building one. 

Protection From The Elements 

The key benefit of a carport is to protect your vehicles from the elements. In some cases this means not having to scrape frost and ice off the car in the morning before work, in others it means protecting it from any damage which hail can cause. To most of us in Australia these conditions aren’t much to worry about, but searing heat and flying debris could be, both of which your car will be protected from with a carport. 

Security Increase

Many believe that the car is not any more secure in a carport, because unlike a garage there are no locks or doors. With this being said studies have shown that vehicles stored under a carport are significantly less likely to be stolen than those which are not. Additionally insurance companies may offer a discount if your car is being stored in this way. 

Adding Value 

Carports are considered an attractive feature amongst property buyers, and building one could in fact add some value to your home. Broadly speaking 30% of the spend which you make on the carport, can expect to come back to you when you eventually sell the property

Aesthetically Pleasing 

Thanks to the smart designs which we have, as well as the bespoke options which you have to choose from, a carport can really make your home look more attractive. This adds a simple structure to your property which will help to continue the theme of the home and make the entire place feel more homely and comfortable. 

Low Cost Garage Alternative 

Many would like to have a garage on their property but if there isn’t already one there, the construction of a garage can be expensive. Even if you opted for custom carports, you will find that the overall cost pales in comparison to building a garage on site. 

Planning Permission 

Many fail to realize that they would need planning permission for a garage, which may not always be easy to obtain. Because of the simplicity of the structure and the fact that utilities aren’t required however, the construction of a carport very rarely needs permission — as it is filed under the same category as an external shed. 

This is a low cost and low effort way to make sure that your vehicles are safe, and that you add some value and attraction to your property.