Best lean testing practices for enterprise teams

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Agile software development has become a major initiative for many organizations. To enhance these efforts, many have turned to lean practices to reduce waste and ensure that application development is streamlined for maximum benefits. While there are definitive advantages to lean operations, achieving them will take some work. By utilizing these best lean testing practices, enterprise quality assurance teams can leverage lean processes effectively and continuously deploy optimal projects.

1. Create thorough records
One major issue across development teams, especially those that have remote members, is redundancy. This often happens due to a lack of effective communication, resulting in QA employees making the same changes and opening up other vulnerabilities in the process. While meetings can be one solution, this is difficult to sustain with geographically dispersed teams, and can often waste essential time, going against lean practices.

The answer, then, would be an enterprise test management solution. According to Lean Testing contributor Cheylene Thongkham, test management assets can be the most effective way to bring order to test environments. These tools enable teams to thoroughly document resource scheduling, configurations and incidents, along with data on who made the change, what was adjusted as well as when and why the alteration was made. This will significantly reduce the amount of time spent on testing needs, and eliminate the chance for redundancies. It will also create accountability across the team and ensure that everyone is always on the same page.

2. Faster time to market
Agile and lean practices have similar values when it comes to reducing cycle times and ensuring that projects are deployed quickly. InformIT contributor Dean Leffingwell noted that by delivering solutions in smaller lots, QA teams can put more frequent releases into the hands of customers more quickly than ever before. With methods like continuous deployment, integration and development, organizations can actively improve their applications and ensure that they will always meet user expectations by reliably delivering updates.

To achieve faster time to market, automation integration testing and virtualized testing environments are often used. Virtualization will help testers create custom instances or choose from an existing template, taking far less time than traditional testing processes. Thongkam noted that virtualization also can provide a snapshot of the testing environment, allowing testers to recreate bugs and develop solutions to these issues faster than ever.

3. Do the minimum, then expand
Lean practices set out to ensure that nothing is wasted, making each resource valuable throughout a project's lifecycle. TheNextWeb contributor David Arnoux noted that utilizing the minimum viable process and minimum viable test can help conserve assets, and ensure that applications meet user and stakeholder expectations. These practices ensure that teams don't do too much at once. By creating a basic version first, organizations can test, analyze the results and build more complex functionality into the base. Repeating this process will help teams reach their goals in a way that won't put too much pressure on available resources.

In the case of testing, QA staff will want to run low complexity, high impact tests. These tests will help save time and ensure that users are receiving the support and features they require from a business application.

"What the minimal viable test prevents is building features that will ultimately fail or never interest users," Arnoux wrote. "This may be a feature the team is convinced will work, but in the end does not achieve product-market fit."

4. Revise your strategy
A testing plan is unlikely to remain viable forever. Therefore, it's important for QA teams to regularly reassess their testing environment and ensure that they have a solid strategy to reflect trends and testing requirements. McKinsey & Company created a list of 10 timeless tests that will help evaluate your strategy, including if the plan will beat the market, whether it taps a true source of advantage, if it's flexible and scalable, how it puts teams ahead of trends and how it's been translated into an action plan. These questions will help QA teams assess their lean testing strategy and make any essential changes.

Lean testing can be a challenge, but by following these best practices, QA teams can utilize it effectively in their operations. Focusing on thorough communication and doing things incrementally will help save time and costs, exemplifying lean principles.