Building an Effective BA/QA Communication Pipeline

By June 13, 2016Blog

Communication is vital in Agile software development, where team members take on overlapping, cross-functional roles to design, develop, test and deploy, and where frequent collaboration is required. This workflow becomes more accelerated in DevOps, where extreme automation comes to play and weekly or daily releases are the norm. Nowhere is communication more vital in these processes than between business analysts (BA), who come up with the solutions and turn them into requirements, and quality assurance professionals (QA), who test them after they’ve gone through the development process. A disconnect in communication between these two roles can cause needless delays, not to mention unsatisfied business clients.

As Ritesh Kaul, senior VP of emids Client Solutions and Practices, explains in the Integrating BA and QA in Healthcare IT whitepaper, communication is also a key part of what BAs and QAs do. They need to be able to:

  • Communicate effectively with developers on explanation of user stories and validate the end implementation of the requirements.
  • Communicate with product managers on product roadmaps, backlog grooming, prioritization of requirements and fleshing out sprint/release plans.
  • Communicate effectively with business stakeholders to acquire user feedback and refine requirements.

We have rounded up some expert tips for building an effective BA/QA communication pipeline. Here are a few:

Give Feedback

“Giving feedback is the primary communication skill that developers need to communicate better with testers,” explains this Smartbear post about improving communication between developers and QA. “Feedback is the pivot where ideas become real.”

Encourage Teamwork

The Smartbear post suggests having BA and QA roles pair up to work on QA and BA tasks, which “can help build trust and respect for each others’ roles.”

Know What the Other Needs

Angela Vick outlines the complexity of the BA/QA relationship in this post on BA Times. She explains what QA gains with a good business analyst (and vice versa)—and what one expects from the other.

First and foremost, Vick says, the QA leader needs the business analyst to be an effective communicator: “A BA with effective communication skills increases the efficiency of the QA lead. If the QA lead trusts the BA to communicate delays, issues, requirement changes, priority changes, etc., then the QA lead can focus on testing resources and doesn’t need to waste time trying to chase down the BA or [project manager] for project updates.”

To be an effective communicator, Vick encourages those in the BA role to be precise (“Avoid pronouns like ‘it.’”) and be specific (“Avoid terms like ‘many’ or ‘all’ or ‘most.’ BAs need to list groups that are applicable or not applicable.”)

The best way to streamline BA/QA communication is through BA/QA integration, assigning the responsibilities of each to a single, cross-trained person.

Integration “places the same person on both ends of the process,” Kaul notes in the emids whitepaper. “That individual tells developers how to build the feature in the beginning and ensures that they execute correctly later.”

Get best practices on BA/QA integration in our white paper and learn how working with an experienced IT provider can help with Agile adoption.

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