Hardening sprints in SAFe
Blog

Hardening sprints in SAFe: how to add value to the project without coding and testing

Hardening sprints are regular activities in SAFe. Check out this blog post to learn how our QA team used them to the project’s advantage. 
17 April 2017
Agile
Quality assurance
The article by Vitaly Prus
Head of testing department at a1qa

As we mentioned earlier, SAFe divides the development timeline into a set of five sprints within a Program Increment (PI). However, that is not 100 percent true. There are four full-fledged sprints and a HIP sprint at the tail end of the series.

In this article, we’ll outline the HIP sprint purposes, values, and prospects from the point of view of QA.

What does NOT happen during the HIP sprint?

Ideally, coding and testing should be terminated before the HIP sprint kicks off. So there should be no developing and testing activities during the HIP sprint.

Then what?

The sprint title stands for hardening, innovation, and planning. Each of the components gives us a hint about the purposes of the HIP sprint.

HIP sprints
  • Hardening: Ensures that all PI objectives are achieved, and technical debt is reduced. Time is given to go through checklists again and demonstrate Potentially Shippable Increment (PSI) to stakeholders.
  • Innovation: Provides time for teams to turn up to a hackathon, pitch new ideas, or introduce some innovations.
  • Planning: Conducts Retrospective and completes the planning of the next PI.

HIP sprints in QA: no time for innovation. Why?

No doubt, HIP sprints provide great opportunities for creative guys to offer any new ideas and even try to put it in place. However, as for QA, reality is a bit different.

Most often, we use this time to finalize all tests that were left behind in the fourth sprint. The reasons why the tests weren’t complete in time vary: features delivery was halted, the number of defects grew, or there might arise one blocking defect that prevented the team from doing their job.

If the product release is around the corner, the QA team will be busy running final performance and integration tests that couldn’t be conducted before as every team was committed to their own user story.

It goes without saying that developers do enjoy greater opportunities during the HIP sprint.

But nothing is impossible, and we also managed to make time and think about the future. Developing automated scripts with the client’s data is what we were engaged in during the HIP sprint. These tests were launched every time before the service pack was delivered to the production.

Test automation enabled us to save about 30 hours of manual testing every two weeks. Moreover, automated tests help to increase test coverage: now we could apply them for every client, not for the single ones, as we did before.

That’s it! As you see, the HIP sprint is not a myth, but quite a real thing in SAFe. And while there’s no new functionality delivered, it brings great value to the project.

Now it’s your turn to speak up! Have you tried HIP sprints in SAFe? If using Scrum, how do you allow time for hardening and innovation activities? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

More Posts

17 June 2024,
by a1qa
5 min read
Shifting to test automation to maximize software quality
Explore in the article why businesses should move from manual testing to test automation.
Quality assurance
Test automation
RPA in QA
28 May 2024,
by a1qa
4 min read
Embracing robotic process automation to drive efficiency in QA
Discover how the convergence of robotic process automation helps reshape software testing practices.
General
Quality assurance
Test automation
QA for fintech
7 May 2024,
by a1qa
5 min read
Navigating the fintech frontier in 2024: QA’s role in delivering high-quality financial software 
Unveil the future of fintech innovations and learn to refine their quality with the help of software testing.
Blockchain app testing
Cybersecurity testing
Quality assurance
Shift-left testing for better software performance
25 April 2024,
by a1qa
4 min read
Optimizing software performance with shift-left testing
Still in doubt whether to include performance testing from the initial development stages? Learn the benefits companies obtain with shift-left performance testing.
Performance testing
QA consulting
Quality assurance
Test automation
Telecom trends 2024
15 April 2024,
by a1qa
5 min read
QA’s role in adopting telecom trends for 2024 
Let’s dive into the transformative trends set to redefine the telco industry in 2024 and discover QA strategies to adopt them with precision.
Cloud-based testing
Cybersecurity testing
Functional testing
General
Migration testing
Performance testing
QA trends
Quality assurance
Test automation
Zero trust in retail
27 March 2024,
by a1qa
4 min read
Fortifying retail security posture: embracing zero trust to protect customer data
Why adopt zero trust in the retail sector? How can companies ensure increased resilience to cyber incidents? Find out the answers in this article.
General
Quality assurance
Advancing QA and software testing processes with AI
14 March 2024,
by a1qa
4 min read
Advancing QA and software testing processes with AI
Uncovering the benefits companies gain when revolutionizing QA practices with the help of AI and tips to implement it.
General
Quality assurance
Enhancing Agile and DevOps processes
28 February 2024,
by a1qa
4 min read
4 actionable tips to enhance Agile and DevOps processes 
Streamlining Agile and DevOps workflows? Learn practical recommendations on how to achieve this.
Agile
General
Test automation
Navigating the future: QA trends that will define 2024. Part 2
30 January 2024,
by a1qa
4 min read
Navigating the future: QA trends that will define 2024. Part 2
We continue exploring QA trends, helping businesses remain competitive in 2024.
Cloud-based testing
Cybersecurity testing
QA trends
Quality assurance

Get in touch

Please fill in the required field.
Email address seems invalid.
Please fill in the required field.
We use cookies on our website to improve its functionality and to enhance your user experience. We also use cookies for analytics. If you continue to browse this website, we will assume you agree that we can place cookies on your device. For more details, please read our Privacy and Cookies Policy.