All You Need to Know About Agile Testing – Part 2

Deepak Parmar
September 14, 2018

In part I of our “All About Agile Testing” series, we saw how Agile testing is a vital ingredient in any organization’s Agile development journey. We covered the evolution of Agile, setting up of Agile QA teams, various practices and approaches within Agile and some of the recent trends in Agile testing.

Agile Test Plan

An important facet of Agile testing is a Test Plan. Because unlike waterfall, the Agile practice needs test plans to be written and updated for each release. The test plan includes the types of testing done in a particular iteration. Here’s what a typical Agile test plan may possibly include:

1. Requirements and Testing scope

The key task here is to understand features and user stories – limited only to that iteration, defining the test strategy, scope and estimating the time to be spent.

2. Story or feature verification phase

This stage involves test execution for stories and features, bearing in mind that some of these might not be fully functional. The aim is to ensure all features work well independently and with other components.

3. Prepare to rescope

The very nature of agile development is fluid and change-friendly. The test plan is a living entity that gets updated often to reflect the various changes.

4. Levels and types of testing based on the feature complexity

It is necessary to have a QA build strategy and types of testing and test tools figured out. When should automated tests be developed? Who should undertake unit testing? What tools will be required for performance testing and automated testing. This planning is essential for Agile testing success.

5. Identifying risks and mitigation strategies

Test plan should prepare and plan for risks. For instance, a complex feature may require multiple execution paths and the time-frame may be inadequate to test the feature. The mitigation strategy in this case would allow allocating several resources for a short period of time to pick up the most likely execution paths and avert risks.

6. System verification and acceptance

Once most features are built, integration testing is conducted for the system. This ensures that new feature sets and various last-minute changes don’t disrupt the system. Targeted regression testing is also crucial, as is planning time for defect validation.

After the bugs are fixed during the regression phase, the system is more stable and a release candidate is created. Smoke testing is necessary prior to release to ensure that all critical defects are fixed and the system is whole.

7. Feedback and retrospective

A key aspect of agile is the ability do a retrospective, learn from each iteration and adapt the following iteration plan in terms of lessons learnt.

8. Technical debt

It is a fact that the increased velocity of testing opens your release to more crashes if you don’t address quality. Technical debt should always be a part of the plan. What works best is to periodically address this debt as part of an iteration. This can include many things like documenting code, correcting requirements post-facto, fixing automation scripts etc.

Best practices for aligning testing with delivery

  • Using the whole team approach and include testers and QA managers as full members of the Agile Development team is necessary for agile success.
  • Early involvement of testers: Testers need a seat at the table early on the development cycle for higher involvement and better understanding of requirements and goals. Leverage the QA team as active contributors to the planning and requirement analysis.
  • Use the power of test automation to implement regression testing.
  • Ensure traceability within the requirements, test cases and bugs.
  • Use specialized skills of TDD, including continuous integration and unit level. Adopting these practices into the day-to-day will foster the quality of deliverables and reduce rework.
  • Reduce the time curve from requirements gathering to test creation. This is necessary to gather the momentum required for testing in the DevOps world.
  • Implement continuous testing.

Common Challenges in Agile Testing

1. Implementation challenges owing to the fast-paced release cycles

Shorter sprints in the era of DevOps require faster integration and better collaboration. There are several gaps between conventional test management and the Agile approach. Outdated tools and processes often weigh down the agile delivery cycles.

2. Continuous feedback

High frequency of releases to production requires a consistent quality of software throughout development. Testing early and testing often is the linchpin of Agile success. To get more value, and maintain the continuous feedback loop, collaboration and communication are necessary. This can be a challenge for larger teams or multi-location distribution teams.

Transparency and clarity of common purpose can enable continuous testing. For instance, writing unambiguous user stories, building consistent and relevant end-to-end test scenarios using trends, data and analytics.

Also make sure that each story has the right acceptance criteria and that the story context is unambiguous and well-understood by all team members at the outset.

It is important to start authoring tests as early as possible, such that the feature can be tested as soon as it is available.

3. Test Automation

Continuous testing requires automated testing to shorten the feedback loop and enhance the test coverage. Knowing when to automate and how to automate is how the battle won.

Technical competence can be a challenge here for integration testing and API testing as well as scripting UI automation checks. If testers are from a non-agile background, they may struggle to keep pace with the continuous delivery cycles.

4. DevTestOps

The constantly blurring lines between development and operations, have changed the way products are developed and tested. There is a higher premium on speed and quality and to balance the speed/quality equation is easier said than done.

Many teams that adopt agile in theory, still allow for a considerable testing delay and leave less time for QA and improvement. This causes buggy releases and poor product performances, eventually making customers unhappy. This requires a fresh approach to agile testing that emphasizes on automation, frequent test runs, better feedback mechanism, continuous integration and bi-directional sharing.

New Trends in Agile Test Management

The modern agile testing practice demands more synergy between the tools. Contemporary practices require tools and solutions that allow easy plugging of automation, generation of API Keys that enable your tool to integrate the automation results.

Agile testing teams need to be able to create or import requirements with test coverage. This is informed decision making that lets you make go/no-go decisions. Modularity and link-ability of the toolset is also important.

Test management tools should enhance reusability and visibility providing a complete view of the test progress, with adequate reporting and smarter quality insights.

Agile testing solutions have now evolved not only to deliver continuous agile testing but more intelligent testing powered by ML and AI. One of the smarter and more efficient ways to test involves the use of predictive and prescriptive QA. Modern tools powered by AI and machine learning can harness the power of data to anticipate defects even earlier, optimize the test processes, predict outcomes and prescribe recommendations to best the current model.

Download “Agile Test Management” guide to understand the process, strategy, planning, challenges and best practices of agile test management.

The importance of choosing the right Agile testing tools

Modern tools like QMetry Test Management enhance reusability, traceability and are custom-made for Agile teams. You need the ability to create test suites by release and tracking incremental gains in performance, build by build.

When choosing your Agile test management tool, look for cloud-based solutions. Tools that provide permissions and workflow, enable setting up roles and projects inside test management, provide complete visibility and integrate with your project management, automation suites and CI/CD tools. Features like cross project reporting, dashboard gadgets, ability to sync defects and test results in real time can be a real game changer for your efficiency.

If you’d like to see effective test management in action, then try our free trial version today.

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