It is a well-known fact that retail projects use the agile methodology which is why there is a rapid change in requirement/application developments. It is highly challenging to update the test tools and test scripts, keep track of rapid changes in each task, and the communication gap between each team.  Below are the top 10 challenges widely faced by retailers in an agile environment.

1. Requirements: The main challenge retailers face while executing the test strategy is unclear and frequently changing requirements. Clients do not share all the documents with the testing teams always.  When retail is considered because of the rapid changes in the industry requirements too change frequently.

To overcome the requirement challenges, all the documents should be shared with the QA teams by the client and explain clearly about the project. QA Team should have ample clarity on the requirements. If not, it is mandatory to arrange meetings and resolve the doubts by discussing it. Whenever there is a change in the requirement, it should be updated to the team and included in the document where the requirements are noted.

2. Documentation: Due to the rapid requirement changes QA teams will rely on verbal communication and may not update the requirement document and test case. This becomes a huge challenge for future execution and affects the testing strategy.

To overcome the documentation challenge QA teams need to update the requirement documents and test cases and need to send for approval immediately.

3. Schedule: The constantly changing requirements impact the schedule and the testers are left with a very short time to test the application which affects the quality of the software/product.

To overcome the schedule challenge, it is crucial to ensure that every process is going as per plan. If not, they need to check the schedule and make appropriate plans for deliverables. In case of any time constraint, it is wise to raise a flag rather than compromising on the quality. Usage of the assignment matrix while assigning the task and identification of the resources is a good option. And it is better to prevent the risk beforehand as it can easily increase the project cost and delay the time to market.

4. Environment: Another important challenge is not having a proper environment setup. Whenever the server gets overloaded it needs a restart a few times during testing which can impact the testing strategy. And often logs need clearing to make sure that there is not any overflow.

To overcome the environment challenge, it is crucial to bring these problems to the forefront and make sure there is environment support during testing. For commonly happening cases, it is better to get access to the servers to perform some simple maintenance, such as restart, clearing queues, etc.

5. Automation tools: Automation is the most challenging part but definitely adds value to the QA process. The frequent changes in the requirement are difficult to keep track of the continuous update of the regression script.

To overcome the automation challenge, the QA team needs to have highly experienced technical guys for proper guidance and mentoring. Their support and expertise will help in achieving accuracy, reliable, faster, security as well as better quality test results, and great ROI.

6. Communication: Communication plays a major role in any offshore testing process. It is one of the biggest challenges if the teams don’t communicate properly.

To overcome the communication challenges, there should not be any communication gap between the Product Management, Development, and QA teams on what is being designed or delivered. It is always important to maintain a cordial relationship with the customer and team members and be updated about the project’s progress. All peers should be on the same page with respect to the goals, objectives, and status of the project.

7. Expectations: Testing team should understand the client’s expectations right from the start to deliver the best experience to the customers. If not, it may impact on the results.

To overcome the expectation challenges, the testers should break the application and identify the major issues in the initial stage of the release. Always have the perspective of an end-user while testing any application. Communicate with the stakeholders of the project to collect the actual requirement to define the scope of the project.

8. Devices: Availability of mobile devices to perform cross-browser testing in different devices can be a problem. Bar code readers and scanners are mostly available only at onsite locations. These types of testing can be done only by client/onsite resources. CRM and SA should be active all the time.

To overcome the devices challenges, we can use browser stack types of tools for mobile and cross-browser testing along with a dedicated onsite resource to support all the tools that are available in the client location.

9. Managing metrics to provide visibility to customer: It is a little difficult to manage metrics, mainly in retail testing. However, it gives a clear picture to all the team members.

To overcome the metrics challenges, identify the total number of test cases prepared and executed and upload it in metrics on a weekly and monthly basis. Also, update the Metrics with the number of bugs found weekly and monthly for each resource output. And provide the total metrics report to the customer regularly.

10. Different time zones: Working in different time zones is one of the biggest challenges in retail testing. There will be testing to be performed in different time zones.

To overcome the time zone challenges, it is advised to plan the working schedule for at least 3 to 4 fours to work in the same time zones. By supporting this way, time zone related issues can be resolved.

11. Customer business and domain: It is best to be aware of the end-users and upgrade the existing process or skills to meet the customer’s expectations.

To overcome customer business challenges, implement more creative and innovative methods like optimization to the existing work process. Focus more on customer needs and alter the existing process accordingly. Introduce new types of testing as per the latest market trends. Think ‘Out of the box’ and provide customer with an optimal solution both technically and in meeting business needs.

To know more about how we help Retailers overcome their testing challenges.

Naveen Srinivasan