Agile Testing: Methodologies, Principles, and Benefits
Are you tired of long and complicated testing procedures that seem to never end? Do you want to streamline your testing process and save valuable time and resources? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then this blog article is for you. In this post, we'll explore the world of Agile testing - an approach that has revolutionized the software development industry.
Agile testing is a collaborative approach to testing software that emphasizes flexibility, feedback, and rapid testing cycles. It focuses on delivering high-quality software in shorter cycles and adapting to changes quickly. Further along, we'll dive deeper into the different Agile methodologies - Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, and Extreme Programming (XP) - and describe how they work. Moreover, we'll also describe the role of the Agile tester and how they contribute to the development process, as well as discuss the 12 Agile principles from the Agile Manifesto and how they complement the Agile testing approach. Finally, we'll explore the benefits of Agile testing and why it's worth considering for your company. So, whether you're a software developer, a project manager, or a QA professional, join us as we explore the world of Agile testing.
What is Agile and Agile Testing?
Generally speaking, agile is the capacity of an individual or a team to innovate and adapt to the changes, which, with every year passing, have a faster change rate. Being agile means having the ability to understand what is happening in the environment you are in, recognize all challenges you are dealing with, and determine what steps need to be taken in order to quickly face them and succeed.
Nowadays, the term Agile is most commonly associated with software development as a project management methodology. Back at the beginning of software development, teams were following the Waterfall software development methodology. Following this methodology meant that first all the development work was done, providing a finished product, and only then testing was done. As you can imagine, this process was ineffective for so many reasons.
With the birth of the agile principles, testing has become a crucial part of the development process and has revolutionized the whole development process. So now, instead of testing the product when it is finished, testing was introduced initially. With the introduction of the agile way of work, everything started to move more frequently to correspond to the increased changes in the market.
The agile way of work also influences the perspective of the team making requirement changes welcomed. In order for the team to have time to fulfill all of this, the tendency of Agile is to have less documentation and more room for adaptation to changes.
In the center of the Agile approach is the fulfillment of the customer's needs, therefore, Agile teams work directly with clients to gather their early feedback during each iteration. By getting early feedback, the agile team is sure that the requirements are well understood and implemented, and that the software is on the right path.
Another very important aspect of agile testing is continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). In continuous integration, developers integrate all the changes they have made in the code during the day into a shared repository. The next step is the continuous testing of the product, which allows agile testers to discover bugs early in the development process.
A little bit of history
Many individuals, active in the software development industry, met in the middle of the 1990s to explore all the possibilities of speeding up and simplifying the time-consuming process of creating software. These software developers finally succeeded in their purpose by combining both old and new ideas. Small, self-organizing teams, consistent delivery of high-quality products, innovative approaches to code development, and testing done at all phases were given top priority in this approach. They also strongly emphasized close communication between the development team and business stakeholders.
And this is how, in 2001, a group of 17 people got together and created the Agile Manifesto. The Agile Manifesto was a way to formalize the term "agile software development" and create the foundation of agile software development itself. The Agile Manifesto established 4 key values and 12 principles that revolutionized the software development world.
The individuals who developed those approaches thought that others might also benefit from this, so they developed methodologies to disseminate the concepts to different teams in differing businesses and circumstances. Agile methodologies like Scrum, Extreme Programming, Kanban, and Feature-Driven Development (FDD), among others, were born during this time.
Types of Agile Methodologies
Agile approaches are necessary to help us collaborate effectively while developing complicated software solutions. Delivering an effective and shippable product, preferably at the end of each iteration, will ultimately boost customer satisfaction with each software release. There is no one ideal method to apply Agile. Due to the wide variety of products, business models, and teams, several approaches have been developed from which businesses can select. Some of the most popular Agile frameworks are listed here.
Scrum is one of the most widely used agile frameworks for software development nowadays. Scrum divides the development process into sprints, where each sprint has a length of 2 to 4 weeks. Each sprint tends to deliver a software increment that meets the customer's requirements. This methodology has clearly defined team roles like Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team. Scrum works well in companies with frequent cross-team collaboration, with a team size of preferably 3 to 9 people. It’s a good choice for teams that work in short development cycles focused on timely releases.
The second most used agile methodology is Kanban. The word Kanban has Japanese roots and roughly translated means “cards you can see”. The progress of the work is visualized on cards that are merged together to form the Kanban board. On the board, the tasks are represented on cards and the stages where the task currently is are shown as columns. Mostly, the Kanban board includes the following columns: “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done”, but the teams can also customize the board according to their needs. As team members work on the tasks, the cards are moved from column to column representing the stage the task is in, from left to right.
Another thing that’s specific to Kanban is the Work-in-progress limit. This means that there is a limit of cards that can be put on the Kanban board in order for the overload of work to be avoided. Iterations or sprints are optional in Kanban. The Kanban process additionally allows releasing its increments item by item, rather than as part of a release. Teams that manage various-sized projects, and must balance rapidly changing product requirements, should use Kanban. Agile teams with little experience are cautioned against using the Kanban methodology since it is not as well-defined as Scrum.
We can easily guess from its name that Scrumban is a project management methodology that combines two common Agile strategies: Scrum and Kanban. Scrumban methodology uses the sprint and meeting structure from Scrum, and visualization of the work board and Work In Progress Limit from Kanban, which makes this approach highly versatile. The Scrumban team uses a Scrumban board which consists of 3 main sections that the team can modify according to their needs. Typically the Scrumban board includes the “Backlog,” “Work In Progress,” and “Done” sections.
As mentioned above, the Scrumban teams work on a time-based schedule of usually 2-week sprints. In the Scrumban team, there is no requirement for a Product Owner or a Scrum Master, allowing team members the autonomy to choose the tasks they want to work on. Together, the team decides what needs to be done first and discusses the list of prioritized tasks. Although the Scrumban methodology was initially created as a transition of the teams from Scrum to Kanban, it is also a great solution for teams who need the structure of Scrum with the flexibility of a flow-based method such as Kanban.
What does an Agile Tester do?
In the world of software development, agility has become a key factor in delivering high-quality products. One crucial role in the agile development process is that of an agile tester. Their responsibility extends beyond just testing software and finding defects. Agile testers don’t consider it an issue when a client wants to change the specifications, nor tailor the features of the product to the constantly shifting demands of the market. They don't hesitate to get in touch with clients or their representatives to discuss ambiguous requirements or to offer recommendations for improvement. Agile testers are experts who go above and beyond the testing plan, they are proactive and unafraid of facing challenges. So is the team of testers who work in TestDevLab.
Principles of Agile Testing
In order to keep up with the industry's rapid change and intense rivalry, the authors of the Agile Manifesto believe that the software development team should follow four core values and 12 guiding principles. The 12 principles of Agile were introduced after the establishment of the Agile Manifesto for the purpose of easier adaptation of the teams to the new Agile processes. Those 12 principles are:
- Customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable software or product - Meeting the customer needs is in the center of the Agile Manifesto which can be achieved through early and continuous delivery of working software.
- Welcoming changes, even late in development - This principle comes hand in hand with the first one. In order for the customer needs to be met agile teams have to embrace change, and be able to quickly adapt to the evolving customer requirements and preferences.
- Deliver working software frequently - Unlike traditional methodologies where a fully completed product is delivered at the end of the project, Agile methodologies encourage continuous and frequent delivery of working and reliable products.
- Teamwork and continuous communication between developers, testers and business stakeholders - By actively working with one another, teams can gain deeper trust and more open communication, a deeper understanding of project requirements, customer needs, and market dynamics.
- Build projects around motivated individuals - The support of self-organizing teams is important because it motivates individuals to take ownership, make decisions, and collaborate effectively.
- Face-to-face interactions - Agile states that face-to-face interaction is very important. It helps teams to build trust among coworkers, which increases team collaboration, reduces the risk of miscommunication, and enables faster decision-making and problem-solving.
- Working software - Working solutions or software are considered the primary measure of progress in Agile because the focus is put on delivering valuable software increments frequently.
- Promote a constant and sustainable way of working - Teams that are highly collaborative and have equal and continuous involvement are more likely to avoid individual burnout, and maintain the productivity, and energy levels of all team members.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence - Continuous attention to technical excellence helps teams to focus on constant improvement. Technical excellence ensures that the developed software is of high quality, maintainable, and adaptable to changing requirements which leads to increased customer satisfaction as well.
- Simplicity - By keeping things simple and focusing only on important and valuable things, teams can avoid unnecessary complexities, and focus on delivering the most valuable features and functionality.
- Self-organizing teams make the best decisions - Unlike traditional development teams, self-organizing teams do not wait for managers to assign any work to them. Motivated teams generate the most value for the customer when provided with freedom.
- Regularly consider how to become more effective - By regularly reviewing their work, teams can find areas for growth and improvement. This promotes a culture of openness, learning, and adaptation, resulting in more happy and effective teams.
Benefits of Agile Testing
Incorporating agile testing into your company's software development process can provide a multitude of benefits. Some of the key benefits of agile testing include
- Improved Quality: With the involvement of testers early in the development lifecycle, Agile testing can help identify defects earlier in the development process, making fixing them easier and less costly. This ultimately results in higher-quality software with fewer bugs.
- Faster Time-to-Market: The early and continuous involvement of Agile testers in the overall process, and the early defect resolving, allows for quicker release of software products, ensuring that they meet customer needs and stay ahead of the competition.
- Increased Collaboration: Agile testing fosters high level collaboration and communication between developers, testers, and stakeholders, leading to greater understanding and alignment of project goals.
Customer Satisfaction: With agile testing, the software development process is centered on delivering customer value, leading to products that meet or exceed customer expectations. Additionally, agile testing allows for incorporating customer feedback throughout the development process, ensuring that the final product meets their needs.
In today’s world of fast-paced changes, agility is key to success. Agility enables teams to quickly and efficiently adapt to rapid changes in the market and evolving technologies. Agile testing is an iterative approach to software testing that focuses on increased and strong collaboration among testers, developers, and business stakeholders, a high level of customer satisfaction, and continuous improvement. With the use of various Agile frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, and many others, teams can effectively deliver high-quality software, while remaining organized and focused on customer needs.
Agile testing, like development, is a critical component of any software project. As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, it is more important than ever for teams to adopt Agile testing methodologies in order to stay competitive and meet the evolving demands of the market. By doing so, they will be able to consistently produce successful software projects that exceed their customer's needs.