Sprint Zero is officially not a part of the agile methodology, but it is a pre-planning process for a project. It usually takes place before the formal start of a project. The goal of Sprint Zero for the development team to come together and begin the project exploration. The quality of any project is crucial and should start from the very beginning. And hence it is imperative that your QA team should also be a part of Sprint Zero.
As per STLC (Software Testing Life Cycle), testing starts with the first phase called requirement gathering and analysis. QA engineers can deliver a quality product when involved in this first and very important phase, from where the testing starts. The main focus is to carry out testing as early as possible because as we know finding and fixing the defects in earlier stages of the project is recommended. And thus, QA engineers must participate in Sprint Zero.
Let’s look at the QA activities that can be undertaken in Sprint Zero
- QA engineers can participate in requirement gathering calls with product owner/s to gather product knowledge and the focus area.
- They can use different methods to gather the requirements such as walkthrough, review or inspection.
- QA engineers can find out the unclear or missing or ambiguous requirements or design discrepancies from the planned result and recommend improvements (flow wise).
- QA engineers can not only verify the requirement but also validate the requirements for correctness before the requirements are baselined/frozen.
- QA engineers can prepare the test plan with the attributes like scope of testing, strategy, usage of tools, feature to be tested, entry and exit criteria, risk mitigation and contingency plan.
- QA engineers can perform an initial quality risk analysis by risk identification and assessment.
- QA engineers can also definitely do a feasibility study against estimating the testing effort and resources/tools needed.
- QA engineers can consolidate the requirement by identifying the testable requirement and start preparing test cases (maybe starting with basic functionalities) and create an RTM (Requirement Traceability Matrix).
- They can also help to write the acceptance criteria of a user story for Sprint 1 and subsequently do the same at the starting of a new Sprint when QA work is a little less which will help to get approved your user stories by the PO and further help to validate the assumptions.
- QA engineers can specify the definition of "done".
Requirement analysis for automation testing:
- With respect to automation, QA engineers can recognise if and when test automation is required.
Requirement planning for automation testing:
- QA engineers can plan, acquire and install the needed tools for test automation and continuous integration.
- They can prepare the architectural plan with respect to the defined tool.
Requirement gathering for non-functional testing:
- QA engineers can utilize this Sprint Zero time to get information or details about other non-functional requirements like performance testing, security testing, accessibility testing.
Requirement planning for non-functional testing:
- They can investigate, inquire and install the needed tools or extensions for the respective non-functional requirements.
- QA engineers can prepare the architectural plan with respect to features or coverage on browsers and devices for the respective tool.
- Approved acceptance criteria will help to cross-check and freeze the requirements with the PO which can be considered as a source of truth across the team.
- Defects can get detected even before they get coded and tested.
- Clarity of work - Sprint Zero offers a chance to plan a framework for success or create a working environment.
- Creating RTM will help you to do an impact analysis when any particular requirement changes.
- Fewer risks involved in the projects
- It builds confidence in team members that they can handle the work to come.
- Utilization of QA time for better QA process in a team.
- Improves product quality and offers a healthy start to the project.
Of course, these activities can vary from project to project as per the types of the requirement you will get. Basically, Sprint Zero helps to set the direction of what testing needs to achieve and how testing needs to be carried out throughout the sprints. It’s worth saying that QA's role is very crucial in building a quality product and thus lets start participating in Sprint Zero and contribute towards the project's success.