02 December 2019

Agile Testing: The Agile Mindset of QA Testers

 
agile testing


Agile Testing – A Modern Age Documentary 

The purpose of AGILE testing is that it makes sure that any software, as it is being developed and formed is liable to be used for the general public. This form of software testing is unlike others as it is not a final sweeping touch or check performed on software after it is developed and created.

Instead, agile testing occurs at every stage of the software’s formulation. This helps in allowing the developers to produce the best possible thing in the end. 

There are many aspects of agile testing that differentiates it from other testing types. So, let’s discuss a bit about all the things that go into this practice. 

How Does The Testing Process Work Within the Development?

When you say ‘testing’ the first thing that comes to your mind is running the software and using it like it is meant to be used to detect any flaws. But agile testing is so much more than that and instead of just sheer practices, the activity could be labeled more as quality assurance. That is why the testers who are given this task, are usually referred to as QAs instead of just testers. In the field of AGILE, the testing process supports the development in parallel.

It is again important to mention that testing in this work sphere is not a final touch-up but instead a careful process that is carried out while the software is growing in development. It’s mostly referred to by the QAs as “we test as we build”.

The purpose of testing in the AGILE world aims at two primary objectives:

First and foremost, the testing procedures employed are not to detect any issues but in fact to prevent them from occurring and existing in the first place.

This goal is supported majorly by the second one, which is that the testers have to connect with the development team as soon as they detect any defects. This quick connection and synchronisation is done with the help of automated tests.

The way by which agile testing occurs sets it apart from other testing methods in the IT industry because of the careful and fail-safe procedures that are employed. There are specific modules and testing types, such as risk based testing, automated regression testing and exploratory testing. These are different approaches than those that focus on writing down test cases and planning beforehand. Everything in agile is done on time and with efficiency and immediate results.

An agile tester’s role is not one that comes at the end or in the middle of the software creation. The testers are generally brought in at the very beginning of everything so as they are in and aware of everything. Their roles mainly start when they begin to review user stories to see if they are abiding by the INVEST principle. After that they take part in a 3-amigos session in order to distinguish the story details and acceptance criteria. Moreover, if the firm is reinforcing the use of BDD, consequently the testers will scribe out scenarios in Gherkin language which are later used to corporate with step definitions.

The automated tests that the testers do are run in a CI/CD pipeline whenever the team is working on a new build. UI automated tests, in some situations, are also part of the new builds as long as they are quickly responsive.

agile testing cycle

The Responsibilities of a  QA Tester in an Agile Work Space

There are many things that go into being a tester in an agile team. The job requires a certain amount of qualifications from the tester. These start with the agile testing mindset that can be briefed in 12 simple principles. 

This mindset aids the testers in understanding what the team’s actual objective is. 

1. Assistance in Quality and NOT Assurance of Quality
2. Rigorous, Continuous Testing and NOT Final Checks/Tests
3. Team’s Duty for Quality and NOT Tester’s Duty for Quality
4. Teamwork Approach and NOT Independent/Departmental Testing
5. Automated Tests/Checking and NOT Manual Regression Testing
6. API/Technical Testing and NOT GUI Testing Only
7. Customer Needs/Stories and NOT Company Requirement Specifications
8. Exploratory Testing and NOT Scripted Testing
9. Formulation of the Finest Software and NOT Breaking the Software
10. Early Involvement/Beginning Involvement and NOT Late Involvement/End Involvement
11. Short Feedback Return Time and NOT Delayed Feedback
12. Preventing Issues and NOT Detecting Issues

It is with the help of these 12 principles that an agile tester can map out what exactly is needed from him or her. The principles are, what you could call, job requirements. But apart from the principles, there are certain traits and characteristics also required from the tester such as:

Tester must be positive, fast thinker, team worker and a problem-solver
Tester must have a keen eye and detect quality and provide criticism about the software

  • Tester must personally receive information from the stakeholders (not just written data)
  • Tester must be a good evaluator and can report the test results, progress and end product’s quality
  • Tester must collaborate with his/her team and be able to work with 2-3 programmers
  • Tester must be quick to respond to change or urgent changes (improving test cases)
  • Tester must be neat and orderly to organise and plan their own work.

After the tester is ensured to play a fitting role in all of these specifications, they are now set out to perform their agile testing activities and responsibilities. The principles and traits listed out above help in ensuring whether or not the tester belongs in an agile environment or not. After that has been ruled out there are a certain set of activities that are asked from them to fulfil. These include:

  1. Comprehending the Agile Test Strategy, implementing and updating it
  2. Clarify the definition of “Acceptance Criteria” and “Definition of Done (DoD)” to product owners
  3. Reporting and calculating test coverage to all teams and over all platforms
  4. Ensuring the testing tools are used appropriately and fittingly
  5. Managing test data and test environments through configuration and use
  6. Staying in the loop with the team through writing and performing automated checks
  7. Informing the team of any traces of defect and working to resolve the issues
  8. Teaching the other team members about the aspects of testing
  9. Scheduling of the correct testing tasks during iteration planning and release
  10. Playing an active role in discussing requirements with business and developer stakeholders
  11. Participating in meetings and sessions with the team to suggest improvements, story grooming and stand up meetings.

Iterative Model Challanges Faced with Agile

Iterative models are exactly what the name depicts! Basically, the goal is to develop software in small portions (increments). Iterative models that have gained popularity in the past include the Agile methodology: XP, Scrum etc. 

The objective is to formulate the working system in small bits and pieces the team submits at the end of every iteration. In this sort of way, business functionality is not compromised. The testers are able to test every chunk of available product and it is integrated as well besides that. This approach helps in incorporating a lot of functionality, reliability and assurance into the process of software development. 

So, when you look at the iterative model approach from the point of view of the testers, it can be seen that testable systems are produced earlier in the cycle of developing that software. As much as that may be quite convenient to the testers and the team in general, there are undoubtedly a few challenges that do come up because of this approach. 

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One of the most obvious and challenging situations is that the iterative model places the testers in keeps evolving. Since the system is constantly changing, the software team, as well as the testers, need to adopt new methods and approaches to tackle this issue. 

New system code is being introduced all the time and testing has to be done at that precise instant when the iterative model provides a new chunk of software. In order for the next chunk to start its development or for the whole team to move forward, the current formulated chunk must be tested immediately. In this case, the testing team views the software as a moving target. They have to keep tabs on it and consistently switch their methods to adhere to the transforming and demanding situation. 

Risk is also a factor that plays a big role in iterative models. Since every time a new increment arrives, it overrides the previous one and adds more functionality and features to the previous one, that also provides a risk of regression to a big extent. 

Basically, when a new chunk of software arrives, the testing team has to check the whole software all over again to ensure that nothing is broken or defective. The process becomes lengthier and lengthier as the chunks start to increase in number. The more increments of the software, the more important it is for the testing team to regression test all of the features introduced so far. 

This consistent testing and checking requires a keen eye, patience and the ability to be able to go through something so many times but still treat it as a new model and analyze it as one too. As the tester is prone to seeing the same thing one very often, things might slip from their attention. That is not supposed to happen and the software testers have a certain amount of responsibility on them to perform this task with great care. 

Another great challenge that is imposed on iterative models like Agile is that the presence of a tester to perform agile testing is at times questioned. Although those are quite extreme situations, that only happens in very rare cases, it is still possible. The reason behind this is that Agile is not a model that is in favor of formal methods or heavy processes. 

The majority of agile teams recognize the importance of testers for them and thus testers are placed with a responsibility of suitably adjusting to their agile world properly. In regards to the tasks that are required from them, as well as the specifications of the specific agile world they are in. 

But, testers should not handle that much stress on top of their heads. Testing groups are mostly needed to prevent defects and detect them but the possibility of eliminating all possible and imminent defects is near impossible. 

And although most of the time organizations and stakeholders demand software and end products that are 100% free of defects, the company will not exactly be prepared to make such investments or reach that very high objective. Sometimes they won’t even go close to fulfilling that desire. 

Traditional Testers vs Agile Testers – What are the Differences?

As mentioned previously, traditional testing methods are quite different than agile testing as there are many features and requirements that go into becoming an agile tester. Let’s explore the differences here below:

Traditional Testing – What Does It Comprise Of?

1. Traditional testing is executed with a top-down approach paired with a model that is easily predictable and understandable. Moreover, the testing is performed through a step by step process. 

2. One of the most distinguishable features about traditional testing is that it always happens at the end of the software development process. After the software is fully created and ready to be used, then the traditional testing takes place. 

3. When the team works together and adopt the practice of traditional testing, they usually start testing different modules of the same software separately. 

4. The fundamentals of traditional testing are not easily bent or changed. They are set in stone and they have to be followed by the book. 

5. In traditional testing, if there are any changes or modifications needed to be done, they are always done when the next release of the software comes around. 

6. Over here, while unit testing is taking place it is performed with every module and is consequently followed by integration and system testing.

7. Not many tools are used during the testing process because when it comes to traditional testing the rule is manual testing. It is the main focus and tools are considered to be more of a rarity.

8. Risk management is not an approved practice, nor is it preferred in a traditional testing workplace. 

9. Feedback regarding the testing process is usually taken from the end users after all the testing process is complete.

10. No joint interaction or collaboration between team members since the testing procedure is performed in phases.

11. This testing procedure needs extensive reporting and documenting through its course. 

12. It is time consuming and requires a lot of effort and money.

13. Although product quality is confirmed in the end, it does take a relatively more time to prepare the end product.

Agile Testing – What Does It Comprise Of?

1. Agile testing follows a very comprehensive procedure that includes iteration and an adaptive model.

2. This testing type usually works with the agenda of “test first” and the defects that are detected later on are resolved during each sprint and then the end product is released.

3. The team working together on the product collaborate actively and communicate openly in a conjoined workspace. 

4. Rules are not that hard and fast in agile testing, as they can be changed and, according to the user and business requirements, adapted.

5. Unlike traditional testing, modifications are actually incorporated in the next sprint of the software testing cycle. 

6. Independent testing is a foreign concept because the agile testing team is actually integrated with Scrum team as well to ensure the highest accuracy in results. 

7. Tools are in common use all the time to keep up to date with technological development and provide faster results. 

8. Agile testing utilizes efficient and timely risk management which is highly effective.

9. Accurate feedback is provided whilst the agile testing is in motion which consequently ensures the best understanding for the testing process and consequently the quality of the end product is better.

10. Continuous updating and interaction is always going on between the team members.

11. Minimum to almost no reporting and documenting is required.

12. Agile testing is cheaper and more efficient than traditional testing as it does not require that much money and even less effort is spent throughout the whole process. 

13. Quick delivery is ensured with agile testing and the quality of the software produced in the end is guaranteed to be of the finest quality. 

Summary

Agile testing is a product of the fast advancing and progressing technological world where software development is required to be of top-notch quality. 

It is a more preferred mode of testing and checking as it incorporated key features and aspects that are otherwise not found in other forms of testing such as traditional testing. 

It is easier to a considerable extent than other testing methods as it relies on tools communication, automatic delivery of information and joint team work. Thus the load and stress on each tester is considerably smaller as when you compare it to traditional testing.

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