Manual Testing in Agile: How to Keep Pace with Continuous Delivery

Manual software tester working on computer

As technology advances rapidly, QA professionals must evolve in parallel to stay aligned with new industry trends and technologies. This is essential for ensuring the delivery of high-quality software.

Most manual testers would agree that one of the greatest challenges of working in a fast-paced environment is time. Namely, large projects often have tight deadlines and come with additional tasks, so it’s important to find the right balance to ensure that everything is completed within the given timeframe. By using certain techniques, this is possible, however, it’s not just about delivering results quickly. We also need to ensure the quality of our work is up to standard, which involves doing research, analysis, and evaluation. Agile is a great way to make sure manual testing is effective and efficient.

In this blog post, we will discuss manual testing in Agile and explain how you can keep pace with continuous delivery. But first let’s discuss Agile in software development.

Agile in software development

Software developer working at desk on three computers

Agile is a software development approach that prioritizes the continuous delivery of functional software created in rapid iterations. It cultivates adaptability, collaboration and responsiveness to change by breaking down the project into manageable increments called sprints. Additionally, cross-functional teams work closely together to deliver valuable features quickly and adapt to changing requirements.

In Agile, with short development cycles and frequent changes, manual testing is essential for ensuring software quality and functionality. To better understand the importance of manual testing in Agile, we will explore the challenges and strategies that play a key role to the successful integration of manual testing in a continuous delivery environment.

Although Agile development offers numerous advantages, manual testing in a fast-paced environment with continuous delivery comes with various challenges. Some of these challenges include frequent changes to requirements, new features constantly being introduced, bug fixes, and adjustments needed to be made to configuration and deployment.

You might be interested in: Agile Testing: Methodologies, Principles, and Benefits

Continuous delivery 

The continuous delivery phase involves releasing code in a targeted environment during short cycles and includes the management of infrastructure configuration, change management, deployment, verification, and monitoring. Frequent software releases can often be time-consuming, but continuous delivery minimizes the risks associated with introducing new features. This approach not only minimizes potential risks, but also ensures that every code modification is ready for release. By making releases routine whenever new code is ready, the development process becomes more streamlined and reduces additional risks. Continuous delivery also enables quick resolutions if issues are later found in the production environment.

Key elements of an Agile approach

Software tester working on laptop and mobile device

With customers demanding new and better experiences, we must think of improved ways to deliver great software and Agile testing has shown to be a good strategy. Using an Agile approach allows users to access the business benefits of new software faster, while enabling the development team to receive quick feedback. One of the key characteristics of an Agile approach is the active involvement of customers in the process and teams receiving regular feedback which ensures the product meets customer expectations. Regression testing is a significant step in the process, as well as transparent communication between testers and developers

To be able to keep up with continuous delivery, having effective manual testing strategies is essential. It is important to remember that not every feature has the same level of importance. Collaboration and good communication with developers help testers to prioritize and focus on testing crucial functionalities that matter most to users. Therefore, your priority should be to cover the most critical parts of the software first. QA engineers working in Agile often face many problems and the fast-paced Agile environment can make manual testing difficult. This is why our testing approach must be adaptable. Let’s look at some ways you can perform manual testing in Agile and keep pace with continuous delivery.

Shift-left testing

Continuous testing should start early in the development stage. Shift-left testing is a practice in software development where testing is performed earlier in the development lifecycle, rather than waiting until the end. This practice helps reduce the number of bugs found and enhances the quality of the code. Continuous engagement with developers for requirements clarification, potential issues identification, and defining acceptance criteria ensures that testers are aware of upcoming updates and can start working on their testing strategy early in the process. 

Shift-left testing enables the testing phase to start earlier in the software development cycle, which helps to prevent the discovery of defects that would otherwise need to be fixed later in the process. Why is this important? Usually, most defects are found during the code creation process. Continuous testing during development helps guarantee project quality by resolving defects before they escalate, saving both time and money. 

Collaboration and transparency

Collaboration with developers and other teams plays a huge role in the Agile environment. Manual testers should actively participate in daily or retrospective meetings. This collaboration helps testers stay informed about any software changes, understand project goals better, and prepare early in the process.

Also, working closely with different teams helps manual testers to prioritize testing efforts by focusing on features with the highest importance and business value, ensuring that testing focuses on the most critical areas.

Test case optimization and parallel testing

Agile projects are characterized by short development cycles, which require manual testers to adapt to the fast-paced environment and align their testing efforts with sprint timelines. In such a limited time for execution, parallel testing becomes essential. Multiple testers should be involved in testing different segments of software applications in order to cover more tests when faced with a tight schedule. Test cases might need to be optimized for them to be concise and easy to update as requirements change. 

You might be interested in: Practical Guide to Creating Effective Test Cases

Continuous regression testing

Continuous regression testing is always important, especially when new features are added to the application. It also addresses a common issue that developers face where old defects reappear with new changes. Continuous regression testing ensures that nothing in the application is impacted by the new changes and that both new and existing features work together seamlessly. This practice is crucial in maintaining the overall stability and functionality of the software, ensuring consistent performance.

User feedback 

Feedback from end-users should always be welcomed. Using feedback, testers are able to adapt their testing strategies and improve testing quality. Continuous improvement and skill development helps testers stay up to date with techniques, best practices and strategies as they evolve. Continuous delivery changes the process that testers are familiar with, so they need to be ready to learn new approaches. Namely, testers should be able to adapt to any changes and by improving their testing skills they become more effective in finding innovative problem-solving approaches.

Importance of test automation

While our primary focus is on manual testing, it's important to highlight the importance of automation testing within an Agile framework. Automated tests excel at managing repetitive and time-consuming tasks, which allows manual testers to concentrate on edge cases and perform exploratory testing. Although repetitive scenarios can be automated, new features and complex user stories must be tested manually, so the balance between manual and automated testing enhances the overall quality of software delivery in an Agile environment.

Creating automated test scripts has become less time-consuming, however, not every test can be automated. Automation alone cannot address all of the challenges that we face in the IT industry and skilled manual testers will always be necessary for  testing software.

You might be interested in: Essential Tips for Developing a Test Automation Strategy

Key takeaways

Looking at the key elements of an Agile approach, we can conclude that manual testing in Agile requires a proactive and adaptive approach, challenging testers to actively engage within a dynamic development process. It involves close and transparent communication with team members, prioritization based on business value, adaptability to new requirements, and continuous testing that combines manual and automated testing to ensure software quality. 

We can learn how to implement all of the key elements by constant growth and accepting new challenges that are ahead of us. Continuous learning and participation open new doors to different solutions that we can use in our everyday testing. By implementing manual testing practices and Agile principles, the successful delivery of high-quality software in a continuously evolving development environment is inevitable.

Ready to improve your software quality in a dynamic Agile environment? We offer comprehensive manual and automated testing solutions that ensure your product meets the highest standards. Contact us with your project details to learn more about what we can do for you.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to get regular updates and insights into our solutions and technologies: