Agile Testing Best Practices

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Jun 7, 2022
Updated on
Jun 11, 2022
Table of Content

Agile testing is a new generation technique that focuses on testing smarter rather than harder, while still delivering high-quality goods.

Testers and developers must collaborate more closely when employing the Agile testing approach. For instance, testers must provide corrective comments to the development team during the software development cycle. Thus, this is the era of continuous integration of testing and development methodologies.

Imagine developers finish a new functionality on Tuesday. They immediately notify the testing team so that the testers can begin their work. Within two days, the development team completes another function, and so on. The cycle repeats until the product is completed.

Every Thursday, the product backlog is reviewed and the following sequence of development and testing activities are planned for the following week.

In this article, we will discuss the Agile testing process, its advantages, and how to implement it.

What Is Agile Testing?

Agile testing aligns with the iterative development technique in which clients and testing teams gradually create requirements. In addition, customer requirements are taken into account throughout development.

Rather than being sequential, the Agile testing process is continuous. Testing begins from the project's outset, and testing and development are continuously integrated. Overall, the goal of Agile development and testing is to produce a high-quality product.

Agile’s incremental and interactive process contrasts waterfall, a sequential development methodology. In Agile, work is divided into sprints or iterations of 2-4 weeks. The product backlog represents all the user stories or requirements that need to be completed. 

At the beginning of each Sprint, a Scrum team meets to plan what can be delivered in that Sprint. The product backlog is prioritized, and the most critical items are chosen for the Sprint. 

During the Sprint, the team focuses on completing the planned work. Then, at the end of each Sprint, a review meeting is held to show what has been achieved and to get feedback from the client. Based on this feedback, user stories can be moved to future Sprints or removed from the product backlog. 

What Are the Benefits of Agile Testing?

There are many benefits to Agile testing. Let's discuss some of the most important ones:

Faster software release

In contrast to traditional methods, development and testing are carried out concurrently. As a result, significant issues might be identified and resolved early on, saving a significant amount of time in the development and testing phases. Because it is a test-driven methodology, the focus remains on creating a high-quality, high-performing application. 

The main advantage of this strategy is that accurate unit testing is captured, as opposed to the traditional waterfall testing methodology. Having a planned out and well-defined Agile testing strategy helps to ensure that the project can be completed on time and within budget.

Higher product quality

Unlike Waterfall, Agile testing does not have a separate testing phase. Instead, testing is an integral part of the development process.

Agile’s iterative approach allows for constant feedback from users. As a result, Agile testing can help to improve product quality. In addition, because Agile testing focuses on test-driven development, it helps to ensure that tests cover all codes. 

Enhanced client communication

Aside from internal collaboration and communication, Agile testing also offers benefits in terms of external communication. For example, clients are actively involved in the Agile testing process, and they provide feedback on a regular basis. This helps to ensure that the final product meets their needs and expectations.

What Is the Agile Testing Pyramid?

Like every other process, Agile testing follows a specific structure to succeed. The Agile testing pyramid is a visual representation of that structure. It starts with a broad base of low-level tests and moves up to a smaller number of higher-level tests. 

From bottom to top, the hierarchy of testing that the Quality Assurance team conducts is as follows:

1. Unit Tests

2. Acceptance Tests

3. Integration Tests

4. Monitoring and Alerts

5. Smoke Tests

6. Manual Test

We will dive into each methodology later. For now, we need to understand the importance of this hierarchy.

The two bottom layers, Unit and Acceptance Tests, are automated. They should be fast to execute and run often.

In the middle layer, Integration Tests are semi-automated. They take more time to set up but don't need to be run as often as the unit and acceptance tests.

The topmost layer is Manual Testing. These are exploratory in nature and help find bugs that cannot be found via automation. 

The goal is to have most of the tests automated so that they can be run frequently and quickly. This way, we can detect issues early on in the development process when they are less costly to fix.

Also, the Agile testing pyramid impacts your ROI. The bottom tests provide the most significant ROI since they are automated. The higher up you go, the less ROI you get.

What Are the Different Methodologies of Agile Testing?

Unit tests

Developers write unit tests to test the functionality of individual code units. A unit is the smallest testable part of an application. It can be a function, method, or class. 

Unit tests are important because they help ensure that the code works as expected and without regressions. In addition, unit tests improve code quality by forcing developers to think about how their code will be used. As a result, developers are more likely to write better code that is easier to maintain and reuse.

Unit tests should be:

  • Isolated – each test should focus on a single unit of code
  • Repeatable – the tests should always produce the same results
  • Self-contained – the tests should not rely on external resources
  • Fast – the tests should be fast to execute

Overall, these tests aid in diagnosing as many problems as possible at an early stage to produce bug-free software.

Acceptance tests

Acceptance tests are used to verify that an application meets the user's requirements. They are also known as functional or black-box tests. Acceptance tests are important because they help ensure that the application is fit for purpose. 

In Agile testing, acceptance criteria are defined by the product owner before development begins. These criteria describe how the user will interact with the application and what they expect it to do. The development team then writes acceptance tests that cover these criteria

The QA team performs acceptance tests to determine if the application meets the requirements. If it does not, the development team fixes the bugs and re-runs the tests until they pass. 

Integration tests

Integration tests are used to verify if different components of an application work together as expected. They are also known as white-box or component tests. Integration tests are necessary because they help ensure that the application's various parts work together correctly. 

In Agile testing, the developers typically write integration tests after the unit tests have been completed. They are used to test how different units of code work together. For example, a developer might write an integration test to check if a user can access a database from a web application. 

Monitoring and alerts

A monitoring process is used to detect performance or availability issues within a system. Meanwhile, alerts are notifications that are sent when an issue is detected. Monitoring and alerts are important because they help to ensure that the system is available and performing as expected. 

In Agile testing, the QA team typically sets up monitoring and alerts before development begins. For example, a QA engineer might set up an alert to notify the team if the system is unavailable for more than five minutes. 

Smoke tests

Smoke tests are used to verify that an application is not severely broken. They are also known as build verification tests or sanity tests. Smoke tests are important because they help to ensure that the application is stable enough to be tested. 

As part of Agile testing, smoke tests are typically written by the QA team early in the development cycle. They are used to test the most important functionalities of the application. For example, a QA engineer might write a smoke test to verify that a user can log into the application. 

Manual test

This is the last or the topmost part of the test pyramid. Also known as functional testing, manual testing is done by a human sitting in front of a computer, executing test cases without using any automation tool.

The main disadvantage of manual testing is that it takes more time to execute all test cases when compared with automation testing. However, this process is essential as it is the final step to determining if the software product meets the end-user’s requirements.

What is Automated Testing?

Automated testing is the process of executing a set of test cases by using an automation tool. It helps in reducing the number of test cases to be executed manually.

The main advantage of automated testing is that the QA team can execute all the test cases within a short period and get fast results. Automation tools also provide some reports, which are very helpful for analyzing the defects.

You can use automation testing when you have an extensive test suite, which is impossible to execute manually within the given time. Automation testing is also used when QA teams need to execute the same test cases multiple times.

What is Regression Testing?

Regression testing is a type of testing done to verify that the newly added code changes or bug fixes have not resulted in any new bugs. In other words, we can say regression testing is a type of test that checks whether the application still works as expected even after the code changes.

Regression testing is typically done after the development team has made changes to the code. It is used to ensure that the changes have not introduced any new bugs. For example, a developer might make a change to the login page of an application. The QA team would then run a suite of regression tests to verify that the login page still works as expected. 

Conclusion

To negate the risks associated with code changes, Agile teams typically use a combination of manual and automated testing. Automated testing is used to execute tests quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, manual testing is done with the end-user’s perspective in mind. 

Both types of testing are essential in Agile because they help to ensure that the application is stable and working as expected. 

During your retrospectives, the team should discuss what went well and what could be improved with regard to testing. This will help to ensure that the team is always improving their process and delivering a quality product.

GoRetro is a powerful retrospective tool that helps Agile teams with their retrospective sessions. Visit our website today to learn more about how we can help your team.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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