Addressing Agile Challenges with BA/QA Integration

By November 10, 2015Blog

Having the right systems and applications to collect and analyze data to help meet marketplace changes, such as new reimbursement models and regulatory demands, is critical for healthcare companies. Executives must overhaul cost and quality of care delivered as well as improve the patient experience to keep costs down and stay compliant. This makes healthcare IT organizations the perfect candidates for Agile and DevOps transformation.

The challenge is that large companies typically have entrenched silos of employees and processes in development that can be hard to break. Silos do not fit well into the Agile framework, where team members take on overlapping, cross-functional roles where frequent collaboration is required to design, develop, test and deploy. In DevOps, the workflow is even more accelerated where extreme automation comes to play and weekly or daily update releases are common.

Additionally, many large companies employ multi-vendor outsourcing strategies that disperse development and other IT functions across multiple locations and time zones around the word, making collaboration difficult. Scope creep and quality issues can develop, deadlines may slip, and companies may not be able to keep up with the pace to compete.

Introducing BA/QA Integration

To help large companies adopt Agile more effectively and deliver business value faster, BA/QA is gaining favor as a solution. In a traditional, linear process, the BA and QA roles have long been separate, which creates inefficiencies and can introduce opportunities for errors to occur.

Typically, the business client provides needs to the BA, who develops solutions and turns them into requirements. Then developers execute the requirements, and a QA completes testing. The problem is the testing happens without background knowledge or context, meaning critical pieces of the application may not be appropriately tested and various use cases may not be fully understood. When products demand frequent updates, this disconnected development process becomes even more painful and slow.

The BA-to-QA model places individuals with both sets of skills on each end of the process, telling developers how to build the feature at the outset and ensuring they did it right upon completion.

BA/QA integration also supports the move to popular Agile processes such as Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) and Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD). In BDD/ATDD, requirements are written as user stories expressed in terms of features and benefits, and acceptance criteria are written as events and outcomes. Business analysts are adept at writing the user stories and communicating it to developers, while the quality assurance engineer is skilled at writing acceptance criteria.

With the roles consolidated, development teams get the best of both worlds.

What steps is your organization taking to address the challenges of Agile in your workflow?

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