Your team's not agile if you're not doing agile testing

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By integrating agile testing into the development process, organizations will see quicker time to market and overall improvement in product quality.

Agile software development processes have long grown out of their buzzword phase and become necessary assets for many application teams. However, agile adoption cannot just stop at one aspect of program creation, it must extend to other functions like testing. Many organizations are making the mistake of falling into approaches that are mini-waterfall cycles, and are leaving testing until after code is completed under the belief that it will allow developers to work faster.

This type of environment does not create a truly agile organization. By pushing back testing, developers must still review the code and patch vulnerabilities from the ground up, which can push back release deadlines. By integrating agile test management into the development process, organizations will not only see quicker time to market, but also an overall improvement in the quality of the product.

Testing propels projects
Traditionally, organizations used waterfall approaches to development, which involved phases that had to be completed before the next could begin. In an agile software testing environment, development and testing are integrated as a repeated process that ensures continuous progress. A white paper from Quality Tree Software noted that testers have shifted from being the last line of defense to providing information, feedback and visibility during software creation. While this is a significantly different role for these individuals, it still aims to move the project forward and ultimately produce an application that has fewer issues from the start.

“On Agile teams, we build the product well from the beginning, using testing to provide feedback on an ongoing basis about how well the emerging product is meeting business needs,” the white paper stated.

This type of transition will also change the relationship between developers and testers. While these two entities were traditionally adversarial in nature, they must now change their mindset for collaboration. Alterations like this will significantly impact how teams operate and how information is spread.

Agile more flexible than legacy methods
One of the main draws of legacy development and testing is that it offers teams more flexibility than waterfall approaches. In agile test cases, feedback occurs and is implemented alongside development, allowing for a sort of freeform software design. Udemy blog contributor Kasia Mikoluk noted that this type of freedom will be especially beneficial in instances where end goals have not clearly been established. This means that as the project progresses and the client better identifies its needs, these demands can be easily incorporated into the software without taking away the work that has been previously accomplished.

“For example, if you are working with a client whose needs and goals are a bit hazy, it is probably worthwhile to employ the agile method,” Mikoluk wrote. “The client’s requirements will likely gradually clarify as the project progresses, and development can easily be adapted to meet these new, evolving requirements. Agile is also an excellent option for experimental software design.”

Developers must also realize that agile projects can be difficult to predict, which means that they must have some type of concrete plan in mind for their software direction. Fortunately, because of the flexibility afforded by agile testing practices, developers can make changes far easier than they could with waterfall methods.

Waterfall rules may not apply
While there are some aspects of waterfall development that carry over into agile processes, there are also many rules that must be unlearned. Scrum Alliance contributor Madhu Venantius Laulin Expedith noted that several practices that were once the life of waterfall operations must be rethought for agile processes. For example, independent testing teams normally solely focused on black-box testing, but they will now have to also consider the quality of the code itself and how well it performs the intended function. The inner structures of an application are now considered just as important as its operation, meaning that testers must ensure that they have the proper commands outlined to prevent any future complications.

“[T]he value add from the testing team can be significant if it can provide early feedback and also identify technical debt by focusing on the code-level aspects during verification and during validation or testing,” Expedith wrote. “This is one of the key agile-testing mind-set changes required for a new agile tester.”

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