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

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
Navigating the future: QA trends that will define 2024. Part 1
15 January 2024,
by a1qa
4 min read
Navigating the future: QA trends that will define 2024. Part 1
Discover topical software testing trends that will shape 2024 and empower companies to smoothly implement advanced technologies.
Agile
QA trends
Quality assurance
Test automation
2023-year-end-recap:-a-journey-through-the-a1qa-milestones
20 December 2023,
by a1qa
4 min read
2023 year-end recap: a journey through the a1qa milestones 
As we bid farewell to 2023, join us in recalling noteworthy achievements and unforgettable moments that have defined this year!
General
Quality assurance
The year in valuable conversations: recapping 2023 a1qa’s roundtables for IT executives 
8 December 2023,
by a1qa
3 min read
The year in valuable conversations: recapping 2023 a1qa’s roundtables for IT executives 
From dissecting novel industry trends to navigating effective ways of enhancing software quality — let’s recall all a1qa’s roundtables. Join us!
Big data testing
Cybersecurity testing
Functional testing
General
Interviews
Performance testing
QA trends
Quality assurance
Test automation
Usability testing
Web app testing
a1qa has been included in the Next-Generation Quality Engineering Services PEAK
29 November 2023,
by a1qa
2 min read
a1qa has been included in the Next-Generation Quality Engineering Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2023 by Everest Group
Explore how a1qa secured a proud spot in the prestigious PEAK Matrix® by Everest Group.
General
Quality assurance
na-st-awards-23
16 November 2023,
by a1qa
3 min read
a1qa shines as the finalist in three categories of the North American Software Testing Awards
a1qa is a triple finalist at the North American Software Testing Awards.
General
Quality assurance
Test automation
6 top reasons why business should invest in software quality
9 November 2023,
by a1qa
4 min read
6 top reasons why business should invest in software quality
We congratulate you on the World Quality Day with the article by Alina Karachun, Account director at a1qa, having 10+ years of QA expertise. Delve into it to explore the reasons why businesses should prioritize software quality.
Cybersecurity testing
Functional testing
General
Interviews
Performance testing
Quality assurance
3 November 2023,
by a1qa
4 min read
From idea to buying: 7 testing types to make your mobile eCommerce solutions flawless
Read the article to discover 7 QA activities helping boost mobile eCommerce solutions quality and provide end users with exceptional buying experiences.
Functional testing
General
Quality assurance
Test automation
Usability testing
On the way to Web 3.0: key software testing aspects for seamless digital experiences. Part 2
12 October 2023,
by a1qa
4 min read
On the way to Web 3.0: key software testing aspects for seamless digital experiences. Part 2
Let’s analyze essential software testing checks to improve the quality of the business-critical Web 3.0 functionality.
Cybersecurity testing
Functional testing
Performance testing
Quality assurance
Test automation
Usability testing

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.