Choosing the Right Agile Testing Tools for Software Testing

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Once associated only with small application development projects and co-located teams of 8-10 members, agile methodology is increasingly being adapted for large-scale enterprise development. Choosing the right agile testing tool is vitally important for companies just making the transition to agile since the right software testing tool in the right hands can foster team collaboration, drive down costs, shorten release cycles, and provide real-time visibility into the status and quality of your software projects. It helps, too, if the tool(s) you choose plays well with others, that is, it can seamlessly integrate with other business critical tools in your development environment, such as those you're using for requirements traceability, defect logging, manual and automatic testing, or metrics and reporting. This kind of flexibility and functionality is especially important in large, enterprise-wide projects that need to scale across different departments, locations, lines of business, platforms, and technologies.

Different Software Test Case Management Tools for Different Agile Testing Methodologies

Every organization is unique and, before committing to an agile software testing tool, you should choose an agile software testing methodology that works best within your culture and the skill-sets of your development and testing teams. One of the most popular software testing methodologies, Scrum takes a highly iterative approach that focuses on defining key features and objectives prior to each iteration or sprint. It is designed to reduce risk while providing value quickly. Introducing Scrum is quite a change for a team not used to agile software development: they have to start working in iterations, build cross-functional teams, appoint a product owner and a Scrum master, as well as introduce regular meetings for iteration planning, daily status updates, and sprint reviews.

Unlike the time-boxed approach that Scrum takes, Kanban is designed around a continuous queue of work, which goes through a number of stages of development until it's done. Kanban teams often use index cards or sticky notes arranged on walls, such as the Kanban Board shown below, to visualize workflow in a left-to-right manner. When work is completed in a stage, it moves into the next-stage column to its right. When someone needs new work to do, they pull it from a left-hand column.

Agile Software Testing Tools

Are Spreadsheets Limiting Your Software Testing and Reporting?

Agile teams using either Scrum or Kanban methods often rely on a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel as a test case management, documentation and reporting tool. There are significant risks to using spreadsheets to store and process test cases, however, especially on multi-team projects where individual teams often adapt spreadsheets to their specific needs, which can cause problems when it comes to getting uniform reports. If two or more people are working at the same time on a spreadsheet file, there's also the danger of corrupting the file or creating other security risks.

Achieve Agile Project Management with JIRA

If you're looking for a tool that makes it easy for different teams to collaborate, JIRA Software is an agile project management tool that supports any agile methodology, be it Scrum, Kanban, or your own unique flavor. From agile dashboards to reports, you can plan, track, and manage all your agile software development projects from a single tool. JIRA allows users to track anything and everything – issues, bugs, user stories, tasks, deadlines, hours – so you can stay on top of each of your team’s activities. In addition to offering collaboration tools, a chat solution, and development tools, JIRA has a wide range of integrations to help you connect to almost any other tool you're likely to need.

One of these integrations, Zephyr for JIRA provides a full featured and sophisticated test case management solution inside JIRA. With the same look-n-feel as JIRA, Zephyr for JIRA lets you do testing right inside JIRA, which makes it easier for agile teams to track software quality and make better-informed go/no-go decisions about when to ship high-quality software. You can also hook your automation and continuous integration tools to Zephyr for JIRA with the ZAPI add-on (sold separately) to enable access to testing data programmatically via RESTful APIs. With well documented RESTful APIs you can create tests and execution cycles, update execution status, add attachments, and retrieve information about users, projects, releases, tests and execution cycles.

Begin Comparing Automation Testing Tools Comparison Overview

Test automation is essential in today's fast-moving software delivery environment. Test automation works by running a large number of tests repeatedly to make sure an application doesn’t break whenever new changes are introduced. For most agile development teams, these automated tests are usually executed as part of a Continuous Integration (CI) build process, where developers check code into a shared repository several times a day. Each check-in is then verified by an automated build, allowing teams to detect errors and conflicts as soon as possible. CI tools such as Jenkins, Bamboo, and Selenium are also used to build, test and deploy applications automatically when requirements change in order to speed up the release process.


Jenkins is a CI/CD server that runs tests automatically every time a developer pushes new code into the source repository. Because CI detects bugs early on in development, bugs are typically smaller, less complex and easier to resolve. Originally created to be a build automation tool for Java applications, Jenkins has since evolved into a multi-faceted platform with over a thousand plug-ins for other software tools. Because of the rich ecosystem of plug-ins, Jenkins can be used to build, deploy and automate almost any software project--regardless of the computer language, database or version control system used.


Bamboo is a CI/CD server from Atlassian. Like Jenkins and other CI/CD servers, Bamboo allows developers to automatically build, integrate, test and deploy source code. Bamboo is closely connected with other Atlassian tools such as JIRA for project management and Hipchat for team communication. Unlike Jenkins, which is a free and open source agile automation tool, Bamboo is commercial software that is integrated (and supported) out of the box with other Atlassian products such as Bitbucket, JIRA, and Confluence.


Selenium is a suite of different open-source software tools that enable automated software testing of web applications across various browsers/platforms. Most often used to create robust, browser-based regression automation suites and tests, Selenium--like Jenkins--has a rich repository of open source tools that are useful for different kinds of automation problems. With support for programming languages like C#, Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, .Net, Perl, PHP, etc., Selenium can be used to write automation scripts that run against most modern web browsers.

Which Software Testing Automation Framework Fits Your Needs?

In addition to CI/CD tools, many agile teams also rely on test automation frameworks made of function libraries, test data sources, and other reusable modules that can be assembled like building blocks so teams can create automation tests specific to different business needs. So, for example, a team might use a specific test automation framework to automate GUI tests if their software end users expect a fast, rich and easy user interface experience. If the team is developing an app for an Internet of Things (IoT) device that primarily talks to other IoT devices, they would likely use a different test automation framework.

Agile teams can execute one-touch control of test automation from within the Zephyr Platform with Vortex, Zephyr's advanced add-on that that allows you to integrate with a growing suite of automated testing frameworks (including EggPlant, Cucumber, Selenium, UFT, Tricentis, and more) with minimal configuration. Besides being able to control the execution of thousands of automated test cases, Vortex makes it easy to automatically create test cases from test scripts and to apply insights from analytics on both automated and manual testing activities.

The Importance of Exploratory Testing on Agile Projects

Agile projects still need manual testers to engage in exploratory test sessions while the automation test suite runs. In addition to revising and fine-tuning the automated tests, exploratory testers are important on agile projects since developers and other team members often get used to following a defined process and may stop thinking outside the box. Because of the desire for fast consensus among self-organizing agile teams (including globally distributed ones), collaboration can devolve into groupthink. Exploratory testing combats this tendency by allowing a team member to play the devil's advocate role and ask tough, "what if"-type testing questions. Because of the adaptable nature of exploratory testing, it can also be run in parallel with automated testing and doesn’t have to slow deployment down on agile projects.

Enhance Your Exploratory Testing Techniques with Zephyr's Vortex and Capture for JIRA

In addition to being able to create and reuse manual tests on agile projects, Zephyr's Vortex tool makes it easy to bring in and work with automation information from across your development stack, including from systems external to your organization. Vortex allows users--wherever they are in your organization-- to integrate, execute, and report on test automation activities. By providing an intuitive screen that lets users access both manual and automated test cases at the same time, Vortex helps agile teams better monitor their overall automation effort (that is, the number of manual versus automated tests) from one release to another.

Capture for JIRA helps software testers on agile projects create and record exploratory and collaborative testing sessions, which are useful for planning, executing and tracking manual or exploratory testing. Session-based test management is a type of structured exploratory testing that requires testers to identify test objectives and focus their testing efforts on fulfilling them. This type of exploratory testing is an extremely powerful way of optimizing test coverage without incurring the costs associated with writing and maintaining test cases. Like Zephyr for JIRA, Capture for JIRA has a deep integration with the JIRA platform, allowing users to capture screenshots within browsers, create annotations, and validate application functionality within JIRA.

Zephyr's Software Testing Tool

Zephyr is the go-to software testing tool for 18,000 agile development and testing teams in over 100 countries, processing more than 40 million tests a day. Vortex and Capture for JIRA are two of the latest additions to Zephyr's suite of advanced agile and automation tools, which includes different Zephyr for JIRA, Zephyr Teams, and Zephyr Enterprise solutions. The Zephyr platform integrates with a wide range of automation tools, such as Selenium, Cucumber, EggPlant, QTP and more. It can also run on any CI/CD framework/server (such as Jenkins, Hudson, Bamboo), which allows agile teams to bring automation and manual test results together seamlessly.