The ultimate guide to Agile testing methodology

What are the main principles of Agile testing?

Agile Development origination as a response. A response to slow and cumbersome traditional software development methodologies. Traditional software developers often used waterfall methodology.  Waterfall, while simple, is highly regimented. The development team plans the entire project, documenting each step. The team cannot move on to the next step until they complete the previous step. Each step must “flow” into the next. Developers wanted a more nimble, user-focused model. They wanted to create software that met stakeholder requirements.

Agile development focuses on the needs of the customer and end-users. The development cycle is a transparent process. The process fosters stakeholder involvement and participation at every step.

The Agile method is different from traditional team organization. Where a traditional team may have several projects at once, an agile team focuses on one project at a time. They are able to give all their attention to a single goal. Agile team members do not have rigid job roles and titles. Instead, the team members are valued for their skills and contributions to the project.

Agile encourages collaboration, transparency and communication. Team Members and stakeholders share a mission and values, everyone aims for the same goal. Agile enables teams to work without traditional hierarchy. The team shares the same vision and objectives. The people are important, not the process.

Software development continues toward greater complexity. The way we test our projects requires an evolved testing approach. Agile testing happens throughout a project. Agile ensures that teams spot bugs and problems early. Software development teams use Agile to create a transparent testing approach. Testers give teams feedback during the software development cycle. Their feedback enables teams to make changes and corrections fast. 

So what are the main principles of Agile testing? First, Agile teams value individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Testers in Agile have great value. Agile testers are not segregated in a separate department. They are part of the software development team. Testers work closely with stakeholders and developers. They ensure the project meets requirements. Agile testing aims for function over documentation. Teams aim to create software that works, rather than obsessing over documentation. 

Agile Teams stay flexible and nimble. They respond to change rather than blindly following a plan. They re-prioritize their tests based on what works best. They focus on what helps the team toward their goals. 

Agile encourages teams to collaborate, not compete. An Agile team focuses on what works best for the end-users. Testers think first about how users feel and what matters most to them.

Before we had Agile, software development teams used other testing methodologies. These include Waterfall, V-model, Incremental, and XP. Agile has many advantages over these older methodologies. 

AgileWaterfall
No rigid testing planning required ahead of a projectTesting processes planned in detail with structured steps
Testers and developers work togetherTesters work separate from the team
Requires little documentationRequires exhaustive documentation 
Testing happens from the beginning, catching errors early and oftenTesting happens at the end of the project, significant errors mean the project will need a reboot
Works in iterations, teams deliver completed elements as they finish them All features delivered at the same time
User testing at the end of each sprintUser testing only after the whole project completed
Works for smaller projectsWorks for any size project
Every team member has a say in planning and requirementsDevelopers do not have input for planning and requirements

As you can see, Agile has many advantages (and a couple of disadvantages) compared to waterfall. To learn more on the topic read our article, types of software testing methodology.

Agile utilizes four testing methods. Let’s take a close look at each method and how they function.

Behavior Driven Development (BDD)

In BDD testers, business owners and developers work together to create scenarios. These scenarios aid communication between stakeholders. All members learn and understand each feature. The team writes scenarios in a specific syntax. The scenarios summarize features and behaviors, called “executable specifications.” BDD gives teams a way to build hypothetical scenarios. Then they test to find faults and build functionality.

Exploratory Testing

Software development teams use exploratory testing to test execution and design the system. They do these two activities in tandem. Exploratory testing focuses on functioning software and actual environments. Teams use exploratory testing to understand how the software will react to extreme uses. Testing in exploratory testing seeks to find actions or inputs that cause errors. Teams in exploratory testing do not document every single action, but document every defect they find.

Sessions-Based Testing

Teams use session-based testing in a similar way to exploratory testing. Sessions-based testing focuses less on finding ways to break software. Instead, session-based testing focuses on complete testing of the whole sprint. Sessions-based testing includes test characters. Test characters give testers guidance on what to test. Their test reports document discoveries they make during the session-based testing. Sessions-based testing happens within a specific time-boxed frame.

Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD)  

ATDD invites the developer, tester, and customer to meet and gather input. They define what they want to test. The customer will focus on what problem needs solving. The Developer will focus on the how of problem-solving. The tester will look for possible glitches. Acceptance tests aim to solve problems from a user’s standpoint. The team designs the test first and fixes problems as they turn up in testing faults.

Agile testing does have some QA challenges. Errors might show up more often because teams focus less on documentation. Teams must remain alert, changes and challenges show up often in Agile development. Agile teams don’t spend a ton of time on preparation for testing. Every tester needs to pay close attention to their results. Teams incorporate new features often. This might give testers less time to check that the features meet requirements.

In sum, Agile’s benefits outweigh these challenges in many ways.

Here at Blocshop, we use Agile testing. Our software development team creates solutions on time and on budget. We harness the best that Agile offers. To learn more about how Blocshop helps companies solve their software development troubles, please do get in touch!

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