Within the development cycle, every team plays a key role. The software development team focuses on delivering code and the QA team focuses on product quality. With each team prioritizing a specific focus, going to market can only be a success - right?
Not quite. Even with an issue-free product launch, the comradery levels across teams can be indifferent at best. In fact, many organizations would describe the relationship between developers and testers as a rivalry.
But why? Don’t both teams share the same goal? It’s easy to become so fixated on how a product is delivered to market to not see that both teams want the same thing: to deliver the best product to their consumers.
A rivalry can’t exist when developers and testers realize that they are on the same team. The solution to this lies in how development and QA communication is conveyed across teams.
Strategies to Improve Communication Between Dev & QA
With so much to do and so much at stake, making time to communicate is easier said than done. Fortunately, you can build stronger communication initiatives into your development cycle practices that are designed to expedite productivity while reducing recurring issues. Try these strategies to improve communication between software development and QA so that your teams can increase understanding and decrease frustration.
Ensure Both Teams Receive Clear Requirements & Goals
Strong specifications and requirements can help develop communication can be between software development and QA teams. Requirements and goals, when written in a way that aren't comprehensible to developers or testers, lead to confusion and isolation. Consider relying on input from both teams when drafting up requirements and goals so that both teams know their role and responsibilities throughout the project and understand what’s expected across sprints.
Build Empathy Across Teams
Think of empathy as stepping into the shoes of someone else. How would this person feel from their perspective? Can you relate to the emotions and thoughts they are experiencing? How can this understanding guide your actions?
When stress levels are high, it’s hard to think outside of one’s own point of view. Yet it’s this one-sided understanding that hinders software development and QA communication. Instead of pointing fingers or playing the blame game, take a deep breath and imagine the situation from the other team’s perspective. This mental exercise can reduce frustration, encourage communication and align both teams as allies, not enemies.
Pair Programers with Developers
The best way to understand each other is through experience. A pair program allows developers to explain step by step the code they’ve written with a QA tester before they both execute testing on the case together. Software development and QA communication sharpens through pair programming because both teams have an opportunity to walk through their process and talk through an issue. And when developers and testers need to work together to fix bugs, they develop more respect for each other’s roles.
Provide Consistent & Constructive Feedback
No one responds well to destructive feedback, and for good reason. How can the discovered problem be fixed when the feedback received is unclear, accusatory, judgmental and subjective?
Accelerate software development and QA communication by shifting how both teams approach providing feedback. Before submitting feedback to the other team, confirm that it meets all constructive criteria. Valuable feedback is:
- Based only on observation
- Intended to inspire actionable next steps
Emphasize the “Test First” Approach
Testing should always be top of mind, even during the initial phases of a project. Through a test-first approach, the software development team knows what kinds of QA tests will be run prior to development. This allows developers to anticipate potential problems that can arise during testing when constructing code. QA testers can aid this process by providing QA communication to the development team that explains which scripted tests the team plans to execute throughout the entire development cycle.
Teams that understand each other work better together. Cross-training is not intended for developers and testers to take over each other’s responsibilities but for each team to gain keen insight on what goes into the software development and QA testing process.
Developers can show testers the code base and explain how the development team constructs new code as well as how their team pinpoints code defects and how they fix them. Testers can show developers their test cases and explain the reasoning that goes into their testing techniques. A tester that understands the code base can anticipate potential issues and code breakage, so stronger test cases are created. A developer who understands the testing suite can refine code construction so that it’s built to pass in testing.