Agile Testing Methodology

Agile Testing Methodology is a software testing practice that follows the principles of agile software development. Agile testing involves all members of a cross-functional agile team, with special expertise contributed by testers, to ensure delivering the business value desired by the customer at frequent intervals, working at a sustainable pace. Specification by example, also known as acceptance test-driven development, is used to capture examples of desired and undesired behavior and guide coding.

Agile Software Development recognizes that testing is not a separate phase, but an integral part of software development, along with coding. Agile teams use a “whole-team” approach to “baking quality in” to the software product. Testers on agile teams lend their expertise in eliciting examples of desired behavior from customers, collaborating with the development team to turn those into executable specifications that guide coding. Testing and coding are done incrementally and iteratively, building up each feature until it provides enough value to release to production. Agile testing covers all types of testing. The Agile Testing Quadrants provide a helpful taxonomy to help teams identify and plan the testing needed.

Advantages offered by Agile Methodology:

The very first advantage that the company got to see with the Agile Methodology is the saving of time and money. There is less documentation required though documents help to a great deal in verifying and validating the requirements but considering the time frame of the project, this approach leads to focus more on the application rather than documenting the things. Since it is iterative in its form, it tends to have a regular feedback from the end user so that the same can be implemented as soon as possible. And because all phases of SDLC need to be completed very quickly, there is a transparency to each individual working on the project with the status of each phase.

Another advantage that Agile Methodology offers to other approaches available is that in case there is any Change request or enhancements come in between any phase, it can be implemented without any budget constraint though there needs to be some adjustment in the already allotted time frame which will not be a difficult task for the projects following Agile tactics. Though it is useful for any Programming language or Technology around, it is advisable to make it employ for Web 2.0 or the projects which are new in media.

Daily meetings and discussions for the project following Agile approach can help to determine the issues well in advance and work on it accordingly. Quick coding and Testing makes the management aware of the gaps existing in either requirements or technology used and can try to find the workaround for the same.

Hence, with the quicker development, testing and constant feedback from the user, the Agile methodology becomes the appropriate approach for the projects to be delivered in a short span of time.

Agile software development methodologies have flipped on its head, the traditional view of waiting for a fully built system to be available before higher levels of testing, such as Acceptance testing, can be performed.

Testing from the beginning of the start of the project and continually testing throughout the project lifecycle, is the foundation on which agile testing is built. Every practice, technique or method is focused on this one clear goal.

So what does testing now need to know and do to work effectively within a team to deliver a system using an agile method?

The concept of “the team being responsible for quality” i.e. “the whole team concept” and not just the testing team, is a key value of agile methods.

Agile methods need the development team writing Unit tests and/or following Test First Design (TDD) practices (don’t confuse TDD as a test activity as in fact it is a mechanism to help with designing the code). The goal here is to get as much feedback on code and build quality as early as possible.

The desire for information earlier in the development phases is to monitor what the current code and build quality of the latest checked code are. This requirement leads to the use of continuous build and integration practices which provide feedback every time code I checked into the code repository and the system is built, usually on a daily basis.

Brett Pettichord defined the role of testing within agile projects as:

  • Testing is the headlights of the project – where are you now? Where are you headed?
  • Testing provides information to the team – allowing the team to make informed decisions
  • A “bug” is anything that could bug a user – testers don’t make the final call
  • Testing does not assure quality – the team does (or doesn’t)
  • Testing is not a game of “gotcha” – find ways to set goals, rather then focusing on mistakes

The key challenges for a tester on an agile project are:

  • No traditional style business requirements or functional specification documents. We have small documents (story cards developed from the 4×4 inch cards) which only detail one feature. Any additional details about the feature are captured via collaborative meetings and discussions.
  • You will be testing as early as practical and continuously throughout the lifecycle so expect that the code won’t be complete and is probably still being written
  • Your acceptance Test cases are part of the requirements analysis process as you are developing them before the software is developed
  • The development team has a responsibility to create automated unit tests which can be run against the code every time a build is performed
  • With multiple code deliveries during the iteration, your regression testing requirements have now significantly increased and without test automation support, your ability to maintain a consistent level of regression coverage will significantly decrease

The role of a tester in an Agile project requires a wider variety of skills:

  • Domain knowledge about the system under test
  • The ability to understanding the technology be used
  • A level of technical competency to be able to interact effective with the development team


Learn more about the following:

Agile Project Management
What is Agile Methodology?
Agile Software Development
Agile Software Development With Scrum


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