Niket Sahu

QA Agile Methodologies

By Niket Sahu

Last updated cal_iconMarch 14, 2022

In this blog, I’ll be explaining

  1. What is agile,
  2. Agile testing and role of QA in agile,
  3. The principles of agile testing,
  4. Some widely practiced agile testing methods, and
  5. Testing challenges in agile

So let’s start with finding out what is agile and then progress further.

What is agile?

Agile is a software development approach that allows cross-functional teams to gather requirements and devise solutions to those requirements through collaboration. It also upholds principles such as adaptive planning, continuous improvement, and early delivery.

It promotes continuous iteration of development and testing throughout the software development lifecycle of the project. In the Agile model both development and testing, activities are concurrent, unlike the Waterfall model.

  • The agile process gives clients early and frequent opportunities to look at the product and make a decision and changes to the project and it can be considered as unstructured in comparison to the traditional waterfall model.
  • It makes bugs and error fixing easier and in the middle of project development.
  • In agile every iteration has its testing phase. It allows implementing regression testing every time new functionalities or logic are released.
  • The most important thing in agile is that both testing and development teams work together in parallel.
  • At the end of an iteration, the features are ready and the product is delivered for customer’s usage.

Since now we have gathered good knowledge about agile and how things happen when we practice the agile software development process. Let’s move to agile testing.

Agile testing and Role of QA in Agile –

Agile software development is a practice to establish an approach that involves flexibility, speed, and collaborative effort. With shorter and faster development cycles the chances of compromising with quality increases, and that’s where Quality Assurance (QA) comes in.

Quality of the application is an integral component of the equation, especially, to bring validation and ensure stability for the application and hence it can’t be compromised. It helps to build an application that is robust, reliable, and accessible even during any unforeseen circumstances.

Agile testing begins at the initial phase of a development project and involves the ongoing integration between testing and development. Traditionally, testing was a separate activity that came after the coding phase, but in agile, testing is continuous and allows them to indulge in the development phase.

Role of a QA –

With Agile development, both testers and developers have to work together. Hence, it becomes important that the requirements are frozen and the team is well informed. Testing comes into play right from the time when the user stories get finalized. Both the development and testing team needs to have a clear understanding of the expected scope of work. Transparency is the ground rule of Agile development.

The agile way of development is experimental and exploratory. The testing team needs to sync in effectively within the development cycle to deliver the application with test cases.

The QA helps to proactively address issues and potential bugs within an application during the development cycles. It can also help address functionality, performance, or security issues. This not only ensures the stability of the application but also brings down the testing efforts once the application lands in the hands of the users.

In Agile QA’s have to follow the iteration process that includes:

  1. Covering all testing (manual + automation) in the same iteration.
  2. Story testing for the current iteration. This testing includes manual and automation work.
  3. Work with the Business Analysts to get visibility into the next iteration stories, and also help concrete out those stories.

Agile Testing Principles –

  1. Continuous testing — testing team performs tests regularly to make certain that the product is continuously progressing. Testing is done in coordination with development.
  2. Continuous feedback — testers provide continuous feedback to team members regarding the quality.
  3. High-level software quality — testing team tests the software to ensure the application is bugs free. Through regular testing of the software, issues and vulnerabilities can be easily detected and fixed in the same iteration as they are developed.
  4. Less documentation — Agile development focuses on current customer needs rather than comprehensive, documented requirements and instructions allowing for the reusable checklist.
  5. Test-driven — testers evaluate the product at the time of implementation, rather than after implementation.
  6. Customer satisfaction — customers are exposed to their product during development so that they can adapt or update requirements as development progresses. Hence, the tests can be modified to updated requirements.

Agile Testing Methods –

Now let’s take a look at the most widely practiced agile testing methods:

  1. Behavior Driven Development (BDD)

In BDD, testers create “scenarios”, which facilitate capturing most of the test cases. Scenarios are written in a specific format, the Gherkin Given/When/Then syntax.

They contain details on how a feature behaves in different situations with different input parameters. These are known as “executable specifications” as it is built on both specifications and inputs to the automated tests.

The idea of BDD is that the team creates scenarios, builds tests around those scenarios which initially fail, and then builds the software functionality that makes the scenarios pass.

  1. Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD)

ATDD involves the customer, developer, and tester. Meetings are held to collect input from these three roles and use them to define acceptance tests. The customer focuses on the problem, the developer pays attention to how the problem will be solved, and the tester looks at what could go wrong.

The acceptance tests represent a user’s opinion and specify how the system will work. They also ensure that the system functions as intended. Acceptance tests can often be automated. Like in the BDD approach, acceptance tests are written first, they initially fail, and then software functionality is built around the tests until they pass.

  1. Test-Driven Development (TDD)

TDD is a software testing approach in which test cases are developed to specify and validate how the code will work. It starts with designing and developing tests for every small functionality of an application. TDD framework instructs developers to write new code only if an automated test gets failed.

The simple concept of TDD is to write and fix the failed tests before writing new code. Test cases are nothing but requirement conditions that we need to test to fulfill them.

Test-Driven development is a process of developing and running automated tests before the actual development of the application. Hence, TDD is sometimes also called “Test First Development”.

Testing challenges in Agile –

  1. Change in requirements: Sometimes the management or client changes requirements or drops stories during an ongoing process, although this is not considered in an agile framework. This means that work already half-done needs to be discarded or modified, which changes the scope of testing unexpectedly.
  2. Lack of information: The requirement gathering team, who are responsible for creating user stories, may have an idea about a new feature but may not be aware of the specifics which may lead to. If there is missing information about requirements, testers can’t build comprehensive test cases.
  3. Continuous Testing: Testing is an ongoing process that might be started before the development phase in many cases. This creates a major challenge because testers are expected to start building tests for features before development has even started, or while it is taking place.
  4. Technical Skills: Testers who work in an agile environment need to be technically savvy, as they have to work with API testing, integration testing, and scripting UI automation checks with Selenium or similar frameworks.
  5. Lack of Communication: If communication between developers, testers, and the product owners is lacking, agile testing will simply not work.

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