Many software developers today face numerous challenging circumstances under which they are expected to deliver a high-quality product in a timely fashion. As the market becomes more crowded, the pressure is on for development and quality-assurance teams to work together to finalize their latest software and get it ready for release in the shortest amount of time possible. In addition, when either creating a product for the consumer market or an enterprise-level software package for a corporate client, developers and QA management officials will likely have to continuously make changes to an application while it is in production.

Under a traditional development structure, accommodating requests regarding significant changes to the code or functionality of software could be extremely difficult and time-consuming, resulting in substantial man-hours to address them.

With the corporate drive to reduce operating expenses and development time, while still ensuring that developers and testers achieve quality results, many QA leaders have turned to alternative methodologies and department structures to optimize resources. Some teams have found that by taking an agile approach to development, they can both facilitate a faster production cycle and vastly improve the quality of the whole product.

However, it’s not always a good idea to implement an agile development structure, particularly if a project is large, complex or already well into development. Business analyst Murray Robinson explained that, at times, agile processes can be deployed for extremely large projects, but successful implementations require a great deal of expertise from developers and quality assurance teams. When first considering agile, organizations should test the waters with smaller projects, both to see if their personnel perform better under more flexible and fluid conditions, as well as to build up experience. In time, development and QA teams can apply their accumulated knowledge regarding agile to larger initiatives.

Easing the agile transformation
Mark Balbes, vice president of architecture at Asynchrony Solutions, noted in a recent Application Development Trends article that employees might not immediately recognize the benefits provided by agile, and they may be hesitant to implement it as a long-term solution. He urged staff members to embrace this change in methodology and bone up on the various principles that define agile development.

In an agile framework, team members are cross-functional and work toward a common goal. To balance the need to release a whole product as quickly as possible while ensuring that it performs at a high level, both developers and testers may need to step outside their comfort zones and take on additional duties. A successful agile development process is marked by a strong dedication to collaboration.

To that end, QA management leaders may want to consider taking steps to improve communications between on-site teams and outsourced business units. One of the primary reasons agile development has taken off is the need to better synchronize the efforts of disparate departments. A sophisticated test-management system will allow users to update the development and QA databases in real time. This will allow all members of the production process to access the most current version, test cases and bug reports in order to facilitate speedy development.

Software production efforts can be derailed when team members have to wait for their development or quality-assurance counterparts to update the code or notify them about a flaw. An integrated solution will better unite organizational efforts and ultimately lead to the release of higher-quality products.

Sanjay Zalavadia brings more than 15 years of leadership experience in IT and technical support services in his role as VP of client services at Zephyr.