How BA/QA Integration Supports Agile Adoption

To speed time to market, improve efficiencies across the development process and ultimately create a better product, many healthcare organizations are turning to Agile, a software development methodology hyperfocused on collaboration across an organization. The use of Agile is growing, as VersionOne’s latest State of Agile survey indicates, with the number of respondents to its survey tripling from a decade ago. Organizations that support Agile adoption are assembling workflows that value, among other things, individuals and interactions over processes and tools, and responding to change over following a plan. Agile proponents believe that all stakeholders involved in creating a product should collaborate from the beginning. Increasingly, they see the value of integrating business analyst and quality assurance (BA/QA) roles.

In a traditional organization, BA and QA might be viewed as polar opposites: BA is business, while QA is technical. And in a traditional software development process, BA and QA may never interact. The business client provides the needs to the BA, who develops solutions and turns them into requirements for developers to execute on, explains Ritesh Kaul, Sr. VP, emids Client Solutions & Practices. Then, QA takes over and does the testing.

That’s where problems can arise, because “QA tests, but without the background knowledge or context; they know ‘what’ to test but often don’t know the ‘why,’” Kaul writes. “This can mean that QA misses critical pieces of the application for testing and may not understand well enough the various use cases.”

Why It Works

In order to ensure Agile success, these roles have to do more than just interact. According to many thought leaders, they should be one in the same.

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

This results in higher-quality development and reduced time to market, not to mention a reduction in critical defects.

How to Integrate

Integrating these seemingly disparate roles is no easy task, and it’s easier to train BA for QA than it is to train QA for BA. Participants in a recent CIO Executive Council virtual session explained what it takes to make Agile work, including how to hire for it.

Sudhakar Gorti, CIO at Environmental Data Resources, said the firm looks at its existing staff and “what is their ability to learn a new technology stack. Helping the current staff move into a new tech stack is actually causing a lot of upside and creating a lot of high potential for having the right conversations when we actually sit down and meet with business.”

Gorti adds that his company tries “to make sure that everybody we interview is adaptable, they are flexible, and they are willing to embrace change — because change is constant.”

Read more about BA/QA integration in our white paper.

Sign up to receive our latest insights