Software Testing Agile Methodology

What is Agile Testing Methodology?

Agile methodology refers to software development that involves the creation of solutions and requirements through collaboration between software teams and customers. 

It is important to understand that agile testing and development is not a role for software teams.

Instead, testing is an actclass=”mxsm-3 mx0 my-4″ivity that includes all members of an agile cross-functional team. Everyone is responsible for the product’s quality and the project’s success in agile teams. Agile testing is performed by all members of the team. This includes those who are not designated testers or quality assurance professionals. Software testing expertise or the use of a particular tool is not limited to testing. They can collaborate with business owners or customers to determine product requirements, and then work with other members to create high-quality code to meet those requirements. This focus on people and how they work together is what makes Agile different from other software development methods like Waterfall. Solutions are developed in agile projects through collaboration among self-organizing, crossfunctional teams who have often discovered the best practices and tools for different situations.

Agile development is based on a test-first approach to development, as opposed to traditional test-at the-end development. Code and testing are done incrementally and interactivity, building each feature up until they provide enough value to be released to production. Agile testing is a time-saving and cost-saving strategy. Agile testing is based on feedback from the end users. This addresses a common problem that many software teams have: building the wrong solution. The team misinterprets features and then aligns what they see with their development expertise rather than what the requirements say or what the end-user wants.

Agile Testing Lifecycle

Agile Testing, unlike Waterfall, is continuous and does not occur in a sequential fashion. It’s done after a coding phase. Continuous Testing is just one of many continuous activities that can be performed simultaneously on agile projects.

  • Continuous Build;
  • Continuous Integration (CI);
  • Continuous Delivery (CD);
  • Continuous Deployment.

Continuous Build, or build automation, is the first step in creating an agile software delivery system. Your developers should be test driven development (TDD ) . They will write unit tests for every piece of code that they write before the actual code is written. TDD is an important part of agile testing. It helps developers to think about the desired behavior for each piece of software they are building. This includes inputs, outputs and error conditions. Before the software build can begin, developers must check that the new features they have implemented are in a central code base. This compiles the source code into binary.

Continuous Integration is when members of a software team use a version management system to integrate their work often to the same location such as a master branches. Every change is built and checked by tests and other verifications to ensure that any integration errors are detected as soon as possible. Build automation automates software building using tools like Makefiles and Ant. This is in contrast to when a developer invokes the compiler manually.

The last stage in a CI/CD pipeline is where an application passes all required tests and is then released into production. This is, in essence, releasing all good builds to users.

Agile Testing Quadrants

Agile is an iterative development method. This means that testing and coding can be done incrementally and interactively. Features can change in response to customer requirements. Agile testing includes all types of testing including functional, unit, load, and performance tests. This diagram of the Agile Testing Quadrants is useful for cross-functional agile development teams. It can be used to plan and execute testing activities.

Agile expert Lisa Crispin created these four Agile Testing Quadrants to help managers and developers create test strategies. The Agile Testing Quadrants diagram does not provide a taxonomy or model to guide teams in testing. There are no rules as to which tests should be placed in which quadrants and which tests should be performed in the right order. It’s not necessary that you go through the quadrants in Waterfall fashion.

Below are descriptions of the four quadrants in greater detail:

  • Quadrant Q1 These technology-facing tests guide development. They include Unit tests, API testing, Web Services testing and Component tests to improve product design. Many tests in Q1 are associated with continuous integration and automated testing.
  • QuadrantQ2: These tests are used to guide development. They include Story Tests and Prototypes as well as Simulations. This ensures that your software products are in line with business requirements. Many Q2 tests are associated with manual and automated testing.
  • Quadrant Q3 These are product-facing tests that evaluate and critique the product. Q3 includes scenarios-based testing, exploratory testing, usability testing and user acceptance testing. It can also include product demos to gather feedback from real users. Manual testing is often used in Q3 tests.
  • Quadrant Q4 These technology-facing tests are used to evaluate and critique products. Q4 includes tests such as performance, load and stress, security tests and maintainability. It also covers compatibility and interoperability. Data migration, infrastructure and recovery testing. These tests can often be automated.

The quadrant corners are marked by the presence of clouds. This indicates whether manual testing, automation or specialized tools are required for tests within that quadrant. It allows teams to determine if they have the skills or the hardware, software, and environment to perform each type of testing. This makes it possible to tailor your agile testing process for each project or skill-by–skill. It allows you to identify the need to hire a contractor or outsource a particular test if your QA team doesn’t have the right testers for load or performance testing. A testing strategy that is based on Agile Testing Quadrants requires good communication between the workgroups. A test management system allows for the team to collaborate in real-time.

Testing with Agile Methodology

Software developers usually focus on three types of requirements when developing waterfall testing. These requirements are often addressed at different times in a software project. Business requirements describe why the product was built and what benefits customers and businesses will enjoy. User requirements describe how the user can perform specific tasks with the product. Functional requirements describe the system behavior that must be implemented. Functional requirements are often found in traditional waterfall development. This document is used by analysts to communicate details to developers, testers and other stakeholders.

Agile development uses user stories to shift the focus from writing about requirements to discussing them. User stories are concise descriptions of features that are told from the point of view of the user or customer. User stories are usually the smallest unit of work for agile projects and follow this user-story template.

I am a type user and I want to receive benefits.

This is a simple example of a user story from a banking site application:

I am a bank customer and I would like to be able check my bank account balance immediately. This will allow me to see if any purchases that I make could result in overdraft fees.

Agile is about rapid, flexible development cycles that can respond to customer demands. You are creating a continuous, two way DevOps software flow between your customers and you. Continuous Delivery (CD), is the goal of your digital transformation journey. Continuous delivery software development strategy optimizes your delivery to ensure high-quality software is delivered to your customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Scrum and Kanban are the main agile frameworks currently used for this purpose. Here are some differences between the agile methodologies for testing.

Scrum uses a time-boxed and incremental approach to software development. It also encourages frequent interaction with business stakeholders during what are known by Sprints (or iterations in some agile frameworks). As shown below, the simplest Scrum team is comprised of a customer/business unit stakeholder (known by the Product Owner), the ScrumMaster and the rest the agile development team. The team interacts frequently with business users and writes software based upon requirements pulled from a Product Backlog (a prioritized set of user stories maintained at the Product Owner), which they then integrate with other software created by other members.

Fixed-length sprints are used in Scrum projects. Each sprint usually lasts between one and four weeks. After which, potentially shippable code can be displayed. Scrum’s best practice is to release a prototype or minimum viable product (MVP) in order to get early feedback from customers. After the MVP has been released, it’s possible to track usage patterns and get feedback. This is a great way to quickly test your product hypothesis. Each release can be tracked to see how it converts into the desired user behavior. A baseline MVP product with only enough features to solve a particular business problem reduces engineering time and helps avoid feature creep.

The ScrumMaster should organize a workshop together with the end user/customer and the Scrum team to create the Product Backlog. This will enable the Development Team and customer to estimate the implementation effort. The business value can be determined by assigning business value points to customers. This helps prioritize the Product Backlog without delegating it entirely to the Product Owner.

Traditional software teams used a time-based method to estimate their work effort, such as in days, weeks, or months. Agile teams have moved to story points. These numbers are used to determine the complexity of a story’s risk and effort. A “planning poker” exercise can further refine the Scrum best practices described above. The Development Team will take a backlog item, talk about it briefly, then each person holds up a card that contains their estimate. This is an exercise to help team members agree on the relative difficulty of user stories in the Product Backlog.

Kanban is an agile process management framework that helps you make decisions about software products, including when and how much. Kanban is not like Scrum’s time-boxed approach. Instead, it is built around a continuous queue, which moves through several stages of development until it is finished. Kanban teams often write user stories on sticky notes or index cards. These sticky notes are then placed on walls such as the Kanban Board below to help visualize the workflow from left-to-right. Once work is complete in a stage it moves to the next-stage column. If someone has new work to do they pull it out of the left-hand column.

Kanban Board

Scrum relies upon fixed time-boxes to plan and estimate, but Kanban emphasizes the idea of cadence or continuous flow. An agile team creates this concept by working together and reliably delivering software at an established pace. Kanban emphasize two main best practices. The first is visualizing the flow, which involves mapping your team’s workflow stages and setting up the Kanban boards to match. Visualizing the workflow allows teams to examine how much work is being done on their Kanban boards, understand their processes, and then optimize their process with incremental improvements. Limiting work-in-progress is the second best practice. This requires you to limit work-in progress .

Scrum versus Kanban

Each organization is different. You should choose the agile testing methodology that best suits your culture and your testing and development teams. This could be a combination of Kanban and Scrum. For teams that are not familiar with agile software development, the introduction of Scrum can be a significant change. They will need to work in iterations, create cross-functional teams and appoint a product manager and Scrum master. Regular meetings will also be required for iteration planning and status updates. Kanban, on the other hand is looser and more fluid than Scrum. Kanban is easier to implement in your company because it encourages incremental improvements to existing software delivery processes. Kanban principles can be applied to any existing process, even Scrum.

These resources are available from Atlassian that Zephyr Squad Tool users can use in order to better understand these two frameworks.

  • “Learn Scrum with Jira Software Tutorial”: (Step-by-step instructions on how to drive a Scrum project)
  • “Learn Kanban with Jira Software Tutorial”: (Step-by-step instructions on how to drive a Kanban project with Jira Software)

Agile Methods

Test driven development (TDD), an agile programming technique, requires that developers write automated tests for every unit of code before they can write it. It is crucial that developers write automated tests. This forces them to consider all inputs, errors, and outputs. TDD allows agile teams to quickly and efficiently make changes to project codebases and run automated tests to test them. TDD allows agile teams to build a complete suite of unit tests that can all be run at any given time to give feedback on whether their software is still functioning. TDD makes it much easier to find the source of the problem and fix it if the new code breaks.

Behavior-Driven Development (BDD).

BDD (behavior-driven development) is an extension to test-driven design (TDD). It encourages collaboration among developers, QA, and other non-technical participants in a software project. This extension of TDD allows you to write test cases in a natural language called Gherkin, which is accessible by both domain experts and non-programmers. BDD features are typically defined in GIVEN (GWT), which is semi-structured method of writing down test cases. The following structure is required for a BDD feature or user story:

  • Define who is the primary stakeholder in the feature
  • What impact does the stakeholder want the feature to have?
  • This effect will have a significant business impact on the stakeholder.
  • Acceptance criteria or scenarios

This is a brief example of a BDD-feature in this format:

Feature The abandoned shopping carts must be returned to their inventory
Keep track of your inventory
As an online store owner
I would like to add items to my inventory after an abandoned on-line shopping cart.

Scenario 1 – Items not purchased in 30 minutes go back into stock
A customer places a black sweater in his shopping cart.
and I have three black sweaters.
If does not complete the order within 30 minutes (i.e. He abandons the shopping cart
Then I need to have four black sweaters in my inventory.

TDD is where developers create the tests, while BDD allows users to create the automated specifications (with the developers writing the code that implements it). BDD’s most important best practice is Specification By Example. This collaborative approach to defining requirements and creating functional tests for software products is based on using real-world examples to illustrate them.

These user stories, which were previously described, are used in agile software development to shift the focus from software requirements writing to software projects. User Stories are not formal documents like traditional requirements. These stories are meant to serve as placeholders for discussions among stakeholders in order to reach agreement on the acceptance criteria for particular functionality. To encourage this type of discussion about functionality, another best practice is to use “Three Amigos” meetings. They include a product owner (or a company analyst), a programmer, and a QA tester. These meet face-to-face, or online, to review the requirements, tests, and dependencies of a feature request.

Acceptance Test Driven Development

Acceptance test driven Development (ATDD), is an additional enhancement to test-driven development. It encourages collaboration between business customers, developers, and testers in order to establish automated acceptance criteria before any coding begins. TDD and ATDD complement each other. TDD allows developers to implement high-level business goals. ATDD is a way to ensure everyone in the project understands what is happening. Failures of ATDD tests can give quick feedback if requirements are not being met.

While they don’t need to be written in Gherkin, ATDD project User Stories should be clearly defined. The best way to do this is in a “Three Amigos”, meeting. The “3 C” formula was created by Ron Jeffries. It captures the elements of a User story.

  1. Card – stories were traditionally written on notecards. These cards can be annotated by adding additional details
  2. Conversation – the story behind the story can be revealed through conversations with Product Owners
  3. Acceptance Tests – confirmation tests confirm that the story is complete and working as it should.

ATDD tests are automatically run whenever there is a change to the source code. Automated acceptance tests can be used to help you measure the progress of your agile project team. Working software is the only objective indicator of progress.

Exploratory Testing

Exploratory testing is tests in which the tester actively controls the design and execution of the tests. The tester also uses the information gained during testing to create new and improved tests. Exploratory testing is more informal than scripted testing, which involves pre-planning of test cases. Because developers and other members of the team can get used to following a process, such as those laid out by ATDD, BDD and TDD testing approaches, exploratory testing is essential for Agile projects. Collaboration can become groupthink when there is a desire to reach consensus quickly among self-organizing Agile teams, even those that are distributed across the globe. This tendency can be combated by exploratory testing, which allows a member of the team to take on the role of “devil’s advocate” and ask difficult questions.

A simple example of exploratory testing would be on an online shopping site. It would test the following functions from the point of view of an end-user (in whatever order is chosen by the tester): Login and List of Products. Payment Processing, Order History, Product Shipment.

When little information is available about the product or when preparing a series of scripted test, exploratory testing can be very useful. Modern applications are complex and make it difficult for automated or prescribed manual tests to identify all the edges that will allow you to capture the end user’s experience. Exploratory testing is a great way to allow non-testers to use an application and give clear, captured, and annotated data to your team for reproducing any issues.

Exploratory testing can be time-consuming so it is important that the Project Owner allocates enough time for the tester to understand the business requirements and purpose of the app being tested. Testing tools and other resources should be used by testers to document bugs found so developers can reproduce and fix them. It is better to do exploratory testing in a collaborative environment with developers.

Session-Based Testing

Session based testing requires testers to define test objectives and then focus their testing efforts towards achieving them. Two things make test sessions different from test cases: First, multiple tests can be performed in one session. Second, just like test cases, test session can reveal who was tested, but also how, when, and why.

Although pre-written test scripts may be used during a session (test sessions emphasize test objectives more than specific test cases), testers are encouraged and encouraged to create and implement additional tests based upon what they have learned and discovered. This exploratory testing can be a powerful way to increase test coverage and reduce costs without having to write or maintain test cases.

Formal Session Based Testing uses a charter. This is a goal or agenda that the test team creates prior to starting testing. It can be based on a specification, test plans, or results from previous sessions. A session is a time-limited period of testing that can be used to test the shopping cart application. This example was taken from the Exploratory Testing section. Session-based testing is a great way to test your apps’ performance and functionality. How long it takes to add items to the shopping cart, or how accurate and speedy the calculations are performed.

Session-Based testing is best done by setting aside uninterrupted time and keeping the session to one charter. (Charters should be prioritized so that they can be broken down into smaller units that can be tested in separate sessions). A session debriefing is also necessary. This is a meeting between the test leads and the testers that completed the session. The session debriefing should cover what happened, the challenges encountered, the successes and the feedback received from testers to improve future sessions.

Agile Testing Tools

Go To

Outside-in Testing versus Inside Out Testing

When testing applications, agile teams typically use one of two approaches to testing: outside-in or inside-out. The outside-in approach focuses on the end user’s perspective. Teams then attempt to define high-level functionality and goals for the software under testing in user stories. Each Sprint or iteration, user stories are refined until the agile teams and the Product Owner/Customer Representative agree on the acceptance criteria that will determine if a User Story is successful. The testing then moves ‘inward’, and code is written in order to test smaller components until you reach unit-test level.

Agile teams use the bottom-up or inside-out approach to testing. They start with unit test using JUnit, or other unit-testing frameworks (collectively called xUnit). Refactoring leads to code evolution, and testing efforts increase as the team progresses to acceptance level testing. This is where the team tests the business logic at API or service levels using tools such as SoapUI or Fitness. [Cucumber runs automated acceptance testing written in the behavior driven development (BDD), style) described above. The user interface (UI) is at the top of the pyramid. It can be tested with tools such as Selenium and TestComplete.

Testing from the inside-out and outside is a complementary approach to testing. Software quality control is based on the related concepts of verification and validation (V&V), which check that a software program meets its specifications and fulfills its intended purpose. Although the terms validation and verification are often interchangeable, they have different meanings.

  • Verification: Examines the software against specifications (“Is it correct that our team is building the code?”).
  • Validation: Make sure the software meets customer expectations (“Are you building the right code?”).

Modern agile testing projects require validation and verification to occur continuously. Agile team members must communicate with customers and other stakeholders throughout the project. This includes prioritizing bug fixes or enhancements in the team’s project backlog. It is not only after the end of the project. Effective communication is essential at all levels of business because team members must understand the requirements and needs of each feature.

Spreadsheets have limitations

Agile teams may also benefit from test management tools or test case management tools. These tools can help them manage their testing efforts, record results, and generate reports which provide valuable feedback to developers, testers, and project leaders. Many agile teams rely on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for their test case management, documentation, and reporting tools. Spreadsheets can pose serious risks when used to store and process test case data. This is especially true for multi-team projects, where different teams may adapt spreadsheets to meet their needs. This can lead to problems when it comes getting uniform reports. There are also security risks when multiple people work simultaneously on the same spreadsheet file. This is why agile teams and projects are likely to move to a test management software that has a central repository to store all of their testing efforts.

Test Management Tools

A variety of tools are available to manage test data, both cloud-based and on-premise. Some tools, such as Zephyr (Standalone edition) or HipTest have integrated issue and requirement tracking. Other test case management tools can be integrated with popular issue tracking tools like Atlassian’s Jira and Bugzilla (both Zephyr & HipTest offer Jira plug ins).

Agile Automation

Automation testing is used to test agile projects. It involves running many tests over and over again to ensure that the application does not break when new changes are made–at Unit-. API- and GUI level. These automated tests are part of a Continuous Integration process (CI) for many agile development teams. This allows developers to check code into a shared repository multiple times per day. An automated build then verifies each check-in, which allows teams to quickly detect errors and conflicts. To speed up the release of applications, CI tools like Selenium, Bamboo, or Jenkins can also be used to automatically build, test, and deploy them.

Agile teams can run more tests in a shorter time. This increases coverage and allows human testers to focus on exploratory, high-level testing. Automation test scripts can be reused to perform more thorough testing, by testing repetitive steps using different data sets (e.g. cross-browser and cross-device compatibility).

Automation has many risks. These include the need to maintain and control the version of test scripts. It is crucial to choose the right automation tool for your testing environment. You want it to be compatible with all other software testing tools. Automated tests that work well with other tools should be run regularly to give continuous feedback about your system’s health. This is preferably done using the continuous integration approach described above.

Zephyr can help you guide your Agile Testing

The testing pyramid, as mentioned earlier, is a popular strategy tool that agile teams use to plan their test automation strategy. If developers are integrating code into a shared repository multiple times per day, the base or largest portion of the pyramid will contain Unit Tests. It involves running unit and component tests (unit checks that touch the filesystem/database), as well as a variety acceptance and integration testing on every check in.

The last test that should be automated are the manual exploratory tests. These are the tests where the tester actively controls and directs the design of the tests. They also use the information they have learned while testing to create new and improved tests. Exploratory testing can be done more freely than automated scripted testing where cases are pre-designed. It’s possible to semi-automate this type of testing using modern Test Management Software. This involves recording and playing back the test paths taken by exploratory testers during a test session. This allows other members of the agile team to recreate the defect and fix it.

Capture to Jira allows software testers working on agile projects to record and create exploratory and collaborative testing sessions. These sessions are used for planning, execution, and tracking manual and exploratory testing. Session-based testing management, a form of structured exploratory testing, requires that testers identify their test objectives and then focus their testing efforts towards achieving them. Session-based agile testing allows testers to quickly respond to changes and re-plan testing. This is a powerful method to maximize agile testing coverage and avoid the associated costs of writing and maintaining test cases. Capture for Jira, like Zephyr Squad has a strong integration with Jira. It allows users to capture screenshots in browsers and create annotations. Users can also validate the functionality of Jira applications.

The Best Agile Testing Management Tool

The best Agile Test Management Tool allows agile teams to collaborate in the areas mentioned above–Continuous Build/Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment—- in order to accelerate the release of high quality software. It should also be capable of integrating with other tools for project management, issue tracking, and automation in your agile development or testing toolchain. You will need live reporting to keep track of the software products in your software delivery process. This allows for real-time sharing of information regarding bugs, inefficiencies and other issues. It is important to select a tool that scales to meet the needs of large enterprises or small businesses.