Digital Transformation: Moving from Waterfall to Agile

Jasmine Chokshi
July 21, 2020
Waterfall to Agile

The world of software development is in a state of constant flux. As technologies constantly evolve, there is the need for faster updates, releases and better user experiences. The need for speed has also re-built the paradigms that made the foundation for SDLC.

One such approach is the Waterfall approach, which worked wonders until the age of Agile took over. The traditional SDLC approach lacks the flexibility and dynamism to adjust to the fast-paced and feedback-oriented world of agile and DevOps.

Many companies that are transitioning from Waterfall to Agile to aid their digital transformation efforts find that QA and testing need a rethink. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as turning on a switch. Testing in Agile with an agile mindset is a whole new ball game. There is a marked difference which can be seen in the way you plan the project, the test strategy, execution and the participation of QAs in the team.

Core Principle

As Agile deals with an iterative approach, testers check the quality at every step instead of after the fact (as in Waterfall). This challenges the basic ideology of testing and organizations need a three-pronged approach to make the shift happen, namely: People, Processes and Tools.

Let’s take a look at the many ways in which teams can transition better from waterfall to agile:

1. Team capacity and skillset

Find out what the total team strength is in terms of capacity. This will give you a better idea to plan, estimate and delivery on time. Since the transition is as much of a culture change as a technological change, the teams’ commitment to this transition must be inclusive and unconditional.

Above all, teams should understand:

  • Why digital transformation and Agile are both necessary to achieve the specific goals they are pursuing
  • How your processes are executed and what needs to change to achieve the rapid response times that digital transformation needs
  • Shifting to agile without any type of training is a recipe for failure. Often companies will need to hire experts in agile methodology to get buy-in and train the staff.
  • A number of things will change such as the type and kind of meetings you have. Many teams hold daily standup meetings to get clarity on the team’s progress and eliminate blockers. The testing activity will be divided into several phases but will be a continuous process etc.

2. Increased use of automation

Automation is somewhat of a prerequisite for agile. Automated tests provide faster feedback, reduce rework and eliminate the need for long feedback cycles. Investing in automation tools and processes is absolutely key to ensure ‘shift-left’, successful test runs, faster time to market and lean application delivery.

Automation results in standardized workflows and removes redundancy. It also increases visibility into the production environment. All team members of the QA team must be able to participate in the creation and maintenance of automated test cases. However, implementing test automation depends on many factors like the organization, the velocity of a Scrum team etc.

More importantly, Agile teams desire flexibility and scalability to implement BDD and in-sprint automation and capturing automated test results in QMetry.

This means you need to enable seamless integration with project management and test automation tools.

Find out more about test management integrations.

3. Collaboration

In the new normal, all software tools and platforms need to be Agile and DevOps ready. When different team members are working on a number of projects with increasing test complexity and test data, you need a single source of truth.

Agile teams need a platform that enhances collaboration and is the single repository of all the test-related information that is accessible, transparent and easy to use at all times.

Strong communication and collaboration are the linchpins for success be it any approach, but for agile they are especially important. A survey undertaken by Forbes Insights and Scrum Alliance pointed to stakeholder communication as the key to successful Agile transformation. Some part of this communication also means the C-suite communicating with the teams to underline the benefits of agile and why it is worth the effort.

4. Integration

As mentioned earlier, Agile transformation depends on people, processes and tools. QA teams can only transition successfully to Agile if they have the right tools with them.

Agile environments and teams need a modern, transformative set of tools and test management software that fosters this change and collaboration. For instance, the ability of multiple users to work and make changes on tasks in real-time.

For instance, a single open API for automation integration that consumes automation test results and creates the test cases in your test management tool. As Agile teams use a number of frameworks, source code repositories, project management tools and defect management software such as Jira, it is important that your test management tool supports seamless and easy integrations.

This is the mark of a true enterprise-grade test management tool.

5. Focus on Agile Testing Methods

Agile with its marked preference for communication, collaboration, flexibility, innovation and people has found more acceptance in Agile Testing Methods such as BDD, ATDD, Exploratory Testing, Session-based testing etc.

BDD enables communication among stakeholders and other members of the team. While ATDD combines the three amigos – the customer, the developer and the tester to gather input from these roles and define the acceptance test and criteria. In exploratory testing, the test execution and design phase are run in parallel and the focus is on testing working software rather than planning, building and executing tests.

With QMetry enterprise testing teams that practice any testing methodology can author, store and sync files directly with Version Control Systems such as SVN, Git and BitBucket using QMetry’s built-in Gherkin editor. Two-way syncing between QMetry and VCS helps testers, developers and product owners to keep up with the latest changes in source code commits along with automated step definitions.

The core tenet of agile is that testing is prioritized to focus on the user and the user’s needs. Your test management platform or tool must enable you to test cohesively, provide access to all test scenarios from within the story, create, organize and execute test cases easily and speedily among other features.

6. Quality Insights and Analytics

To release confidently with speed and on schedule, project managers and team leaders depend on test coverage data, test run reports, traceability reports and other quality analytics parameters.

Agile teams need dashboards and reporting tools that enable easy access to this data with the help of visual analysis, personalized dashboards for testers, real-time visibility into the test quality across projects and teams.

Organizations considering a tool change must analyze if the test management tool provides out of the box reports, and in-depth, customizable reporting that can help management and QAs with actionable data.

Read how QMetry’s Quality Analytics and Decision-making Insights help managers and QAs


Agile methodology is more intuitive rather than formal. It encourages change and adaptability, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following plans. Essentially, it moves away from the rigid, planning and process oriented working approach of waterfall. However, there are many ways to go Agile including Agile-waterfall hybrid which is a smarter way transitioning to Agile. Yet, to the reap the benefits of the agile transformation, organizations must identify areas for optimum impact, appoint agile trainers, start small and progress in a way that inspires confidence and enthusiasm.

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