November 18, 2015

Combining the business analyst and quality assurance roles is a solution gaining favor among many businesses to address the challenges of moving from a siloed workflow process to Agile.

A BA/QA expert is a unique individual, one who possesses an in-depth understanding of the business domain and customer needs to define new software requirements yet who also has deep technical expertise in testing including the ability to write test cases and use testing automation software.

The job of the BA/QA manager comprises several important responsibilities, including:

  • Effectively capturing business requirements to write the
    user story
  • Writing the acceptance criteria in the BDD orientation of business language, per specific frameworks such as Fitnesses, Cucumber or StoryQ
  • Verifying that code meets the acceptance criteria, preferably through automated testing platforms
  • Communicating effectively with developers on explanation of user stories and validating the end implementation of the requirements
  • Communicating with product managers on product roadmap, backlog grooming, prioritization of requirements and fleshing out the sprint/release plans
  • Communicating effectively with business stakeholders to acquire user feedback and refine requirements


BA/QA Cross-training for Success

While both transitions are complex, it is more difficult for QA managers to take on BA responsibilities due to the level of domain expertise required for writing requirements and envisioning the myriad scenarios that could take place within an application and its features.

Individuals positioned for dual roles must have excellent interpersonal skills and enthusiasm to bridge the gap and work across new disciplines. The effort will pay off with respect and cooperation from other team members.

To overcome the challenges of transitioning to a dual role, cross-training should include:

  • A series of courses for immersion learning on the industry sector (for QA to BA);
  • A hands-on lab to simulate how users interact with the applications including technical training for the BA; and
  • A deep-dive session to deliver perspective on the broader development spectrum including functional, technical, design and deployment considerations.

The cross-training process can take several weeks, and is best accomplished with the help of an outside consultancy or training firm. Beyond formal training, QAs should take the initiative to learn the other party’s language, the business talk, while BAs seeking to convert will need to spend more time with developers understanding technical requirements.

How do you coordinate BA and QA roles in your company? Share in the comments.

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