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By Pavel Kukhnavets

Agile Testing

Agile software testing that follows the best practices of Agile development.

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As you probably remember, Waterfall separates development and testing into two stages: developers create a feature and then pass it to the quality assurance team for testing. QA writes and executes detailed test plans as well as eliminates defects.

Agile teams aim to sustainably deliver new features with quality. Traditional testing does not fit into an Agile or DevOps framework.

The pace of Agile software development requires an advanced approach to ensuring quality in every single build. It is where Agile testing comes to the rescue.

If you are striving to move from traditional to Agile testing methods, then this post is right for you!

Agile testing

What Is Agile Testing?

Agile testing is a testing practice that follows the Agile software development principles and rules. In comparison with the traditional Waterfall methodology, you may begin Agile testing at the start of your project with continuous integration between development and testing. So, we can say that it goes hand in hand with development work and provides ongoing feedback into the development process.

The process of Agile testing is not sequential (meaning that it is executed only after the coding phase) but continuous. Agile testers are no longer a separate organizational unit. They are a part of the Agile development team.

In some companies, Agile teams don’t have dedicated testers or the Quality Assurance department. Instead, everyone on the team is responsible for testing.

What are the benefits of Agile testing?

The Agile testing approach has the following advantages:

  • It is highly adaptable to changes and flexible.
  • It saves money and time.
  • It reduces documentation issues.
  • It provides a way for receiving regular feedback from end-users.
  • It leads to better issues determination through daily meetings.

Waterfall Testing vs Agile Testing: Quick Comparison

Key characteristics of Waterfall testing

Traditional testing

  • The traditional testing process is more structured.
  • Testing can be adopted for all kinds of projects.
  • The product is tested at the end of the development.
  • Testing requires elaborate documentation.
  • Testing begins only after the completion of the development stage.
  • All features developed are delivered altogether after the implementation stage.
  • Testers and developers work separately.
  • User acceptance can only be performed at the end of the project.
  • Developers are not involved in analyzing requirements and planning processes.

Key characteristics of Agile testing

Agile testing

  • Agile testing is unstructured as compared to the traditional approach. There is minimal planning here.
  • It perfectly suits small projects.
  • Testing begins at the start of the project, so errors can be fixed in the middle.
  • Less documentation is required.
  • Each iteration has its testing phase. Regression tests can be run every time new functions or logic are released.
  • Shippable product features are delivered to the customer at the end of an iteration.
  • Testers and Agile developers work closely.
  • User acceptance is performed at the end of every sprint.
  • Testers need to establish communication with developers to analyze requirements and planning.

Core Principles of Agile Testing

Agile testing assumes some essential principles which are given below:

  1. Testing is continuous. This is the only way to ensure the continuous progress of the product.
  2. Continuous feedback. Your product meets all business needs because Agile testing provides feedback on an ongoing basis.
  3. Tests are run by the entire team. In Agile, developers and business analysts also test the application; while in Waterfall, only the test team is responsible for this.
  4. It decreases the time of feedback response. The team is involved in each iteration in testing and continuous feedback shortens the time of feedback response.
  5. Agile testing is about simplified and clean code. All defects are fixed within the same iteration, which helps teams keep the code clean and simplified.
  6. Agile testing is about less documentation. Teams use a reusable checklist, they focus on the test instead of incidental details.
  7. Test-driven. In Agile, testing is performed at the time of implementation; whereas, in Waterfall, testing is performed after implementation.

Agile Testing Methods

What are the testing methods in Agile? Agile testing methods are represented in the following list:

  • BDD – Behavior Driven Development
  • ATDD – Acceptance Test Driven Development
  • ET – Exploratory Testing

Behavior Driven Development

The BDD method accelerates communication amongst project stakeholders letting all members properly understand every single feature before the development process starts. There is continuous communication between developers, testers, and business analysts.

The examples are called Scenarios. They hold info on how a particular feature should behave in different situations with various input parameters. Scenarios are written in a special format called Gherkin Given/When/Then syntax.

Acceptance Test-Driven Development

ATDD is focused on involving team members with different points of view. It includes special meetings that are held to formulate acceptance tests incorporating perspectives of the customer, development, and testing.

  • Customers focus on the problem that is to be solved.
  • Developers focus on how the problem will be solved.
  • Testers focus on what could go wrong.

The ATDD tests represent the user’s point of view and describe how the system will function.

Exploratory Testing

According to this type, the test design and test execution stage go hand in hand.

Exploratory testing is focused on working software over comprehensive documentation. Interactions, as well as people, are more important than the process and tools. It is more important to emphasize customer collaboration than contract negotiation.

This testing method is more adaptable to changes. Testers try to learn the application and design. Then they execute the test plans according to their findings.

What is the Agile testing life cycle?

The Agile testing life cycle consists of five stages:

  • Impact assessment: you gather inputs from users and stakeholders.
  • Agile testing planning: all stakeholders come together to plan the schedule of the testing process.
  • Release readiness: you review the features that have been developed.
  • Daily Scrums: you run an everyday morning Stand-up meeting to catch up on the status of testing.
  • Test Agility review: a weekly review meeting with stakeholders to review and assess the process against milestones.

Agile Testing Strategies

There are four stages that compose the Agile testing life cycle.

  • Iteration 0. This is the first stage where you present initial setup tasks. The stage includes identifying people for testing, scheduling resources, choosing and installing testing tools, etc.
  • Construction Iteration is the second phase of the Agile testing methodology. The majority of the testing occurs during this stage. It is observed as a set of iterations to create an increment of the solution. Within every iteration, the team implements a hybrid of practices from Scrum, XP, Agile Modeling, and so on.
  • Transition stage: its goal is to deploy the system successfully into production. The stage includes the activities that train end-users and support them. It also includes marketing of the product release, user documentation, and finalization of the system.
  • Production. After the release stage, the product moves to the production stage.

Agile testing quadrants

The Agile testing quadrants separate the entire testing process into 4 Quadrants. This helps to understand how Agile testing works.

The concept of Agile testing quadrants was created by Gregory and Crispin. This concept provides a taxonomy for tests.

According to the authors, the two left-hand quadrants help Agile-focused teams to understand which code to write and define when they are done writing it. The two right-hand quadrants help them learn more about the code they have written, providing feedback to the left-hand quadrants.

  • Q1 represents the automated quadrant. It includes the tests that are aimed to improve the code of the product being created. These tests assist teams in building a better product.
  • Q2 represents the automated and manual quadrant. It involves the tests that improve the business outcomes of the product. Such tests help teams to create a product that drives value for the business and clients.
  • Q3 is the manual quadrant that includes the tests with the goal of providing feedback for tests in quadrants 1 and 2 by testing the product and user experience to guarantee business outcomes.
  • Q4 represents the tools quadrant. This quadrant provides the tests that use technology to ensure the code fulfills all nonfunctional requirements (security and compatibility).

What challenges with Agile software development can QA teams have?

  • Documentation is given less priority in Agile, so chances to get errors are more obvious.
  • Test execution cycles are highly compressed.
  • Testers are often required to act as semi-developers.
  • New features are introduced quickly. It reduces the available time for testers to identify whether the latest features comply with the requirements or not.
  • There is minimal timing for regression testing.
  • Requirement changes and updates are inherent in Agile. It can be the biggest challenge for QA teams.

What are the risks of automation in the Agile process?

  • Automation will not essentially improve test productivity unless the testers know how to test.
  • Automated tests will not replace exploratory manual testing.
  • If automated tests are manual, there is a risk that they are not regularly running. It may cause the failure of tests.
  • Fixing failing tests should be a top priority to avoid false positives.
  • Often the automation test plan is poorly planned (in order to save time) which results in a test failure.
  • Many commercial automation tools provide only basic and simple features.
  • Productivity metrics may lead to making a large investment in running useless tests.
  • Automated testing may lack the expertise to conceive and deliver effective solutions.

Final thoughts

Now you know the basics of Agile testing. The best thing you can do to ensure the success of Agile testing for your product is to hire people with all required characteristics of an Agile tester and to cultivate a culture of self-organization and independent thinking in your company.

That environment will result in stable infrastructure without sacrificing speed. You will have happier workers that will deliver a better, more valuable product to your satisfied customers.