Agile Automation Testing: Methods and Best Practices


Agile Automation Testing: Methods and Best Practices

Even as companies turn to agile, one must know its core concepts. This project management methodology takes great pleasure in communication and feedback, change adaptation, and the achievement of great working results.

It is normally iterative, given that it is done in sprints, each building and improving on the previous ones. However, before a company fully adopts agile, there are a few processes that it must observe.

In this article, we look at agile automation testing, its methods, and some of the best practices to furnish you with more information regarding this subject. We hope that by the end of the article, you will be conversant with a great deal of information regarding agile automation testing.

Let’s dive right into this subject.

What is Agile Automation Testing?

As the name suggests, Agile automation testing is the approach of using test automation in agile methodologies. This happens in software development, and its main purpose is to ensure that the software development process is effective and efficient without compromising on quality, time, and resource consumption.

Implementation of agile automation testing requires intense coordination and collaboration between teams. The main role of automation testing, therefore, is to save time and reduce costs. It does not come up with new and innovative defects as some people expect but only confirms what is already existing.

Now that you understand what agile automation testing is, let us look at some of the methods.

Methods

1.    Exploratory Testing

This is a cyclical method that starts from the test design to test execution, analysis and learning before the process begins again. The tests are not scripted but generated by Agile testers during product exploration, which requires the testers to tap into their distinct skill set.

This method helps testers to find out if there is some working software. They can also identify bugs that are hard to discover through several other testing methodologies.

2.      Session-Based Testing

This testing method adds on and refines exploratory testing. It remedies the strength-cum-weakness of exploratory testing, which stems from the creativity of those who do it by adding structure. A charter is usually created before the beginning of a test session.



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Uninterrupted testing sessions then take place but primarily focuses on a single charter. Afterward, the whole session is reported on, and the manager is brought up to speed once the test is done. This method thoroughly tests all the areas of the product and avoids backlogs.

3.      Acceptance Test-Driven Development

This is a form of test-driven development that takes into account the team nature of agile testing. It, therefore, forges a union between customers, developers, and testers, to ensure that acceptance tests are created to reflect what the customer would have preferred.

The corresponding functionality is then created after this. It offers an easy way of creating test cases by letting the developers know the need of customers and offer information on the product’s intended use. This removes uncertainty and prevents the occurrence of big errors.

4.      Behavior-driven Development

This method draws from test-driven development and further enhances the acceptance test-driven development. This methodology uses the structure of these two to identify the correct business outcomes. Tests are then conducted based on these outcomes.

Best Practices

Automation testing plays an important role in the application development lifecycle. However, it comes with its fair share of challenges, which can normally result in application failure if automation testing is not done well.

In this part of the article, we look at seven best practices to ensure that your automation testing is more effective depending on your agile development approach.

1.    Make Sure That You Conduct Parallel Testing

A major reason why people do not get the desired results out of agile automation testing is because agile development focuses on continuous delivery with several short iterations in the development and/ or deployment pipeline. Quality assurance teams, therefore, run short, even through frequent regression testing sprints.

These small testing cycles mean that testers experience challenges in finding, fixing, and testing the products of each iteration. This calls for the allocation of enough time for testing, which includes automation testing.

An organization can achieve this through parallel testing, which basically means running several test threads simultaneously. This further reduces the test times, improves the automation process, and improves the productivity of an agile team.

Parallel testing also means that testers can channel more time in explanatory testing and debugging of issues.

2.      Ensure That You Develop Quality Tests

We advise that you come up with robust, good-quality tests. Agile testers should come up with quality test scripts that can be easily integrated with regression testing. It does not matter whether these are scripted or script-less: they have to be flexible enough. This helps them adapt to the long-term requirements of regression testing.

Therefore, the tests must focus on accuracy, maintainability, integrity, portability, versioning, performance, and portability. Meeting these six criteria will see the testers perform effortless, precise, and highly in regards to automatic regression testing without requiring any human input.

Constant and sound test scripts further eliminate the need to go through unnecessary modifications to complete regression testing.

3.      Choose Your Automation Tool Well

This is usually one of the most challenging tasks before the commencement of automation testing. How do you choose the right automation tool? How will you know that your choice is the right one? These are some of the questions that need to be asked.

You need to take some time and evaluate the capabilities of your testing tool to avoid wasting your time and money. Ensure, therefore, that your tool of choice not only meets your testing requirements but also ensures that your test automation will not be in vain.

There are a few features and functionalities that every tool should have, regardless of the test you will be conducting. These are:

  • Your automation tool should be OS-friendly. Ensure that it supports almost all the operating systems used by your visitors to connect to your web application.
  • It should meet the end-to-end requirements of the testing team, or else your testing will not be as smooth.
  • Make sure that your choice of tool has a friendly user interface and can be navigated easily. This will ensure that even beginners will not have a problem using it, which is important.
  • It should support a range of browsers. This will help you perform quick cross-browser compatibility tests of your web application across the different target browsers.
  • Your tool should be able to maintain seamless regression testing suites.
  • It should meet your target budget and offer you value for your money by having all the features that meet its price.
  • Lastly, make sure that your choice of tool has integrated support and many cross-functional tools. These should include bug tracking tools, cross deliver and test management tools.

4.      View Automation as Part of Development

The best way to go about automation testing is to consider automation as part of development. It should be viewed as a fundamental part of agile development. This will help you make the testing process more efficient. However, while doing this, you have to be careful not to be stuck in these two traps:

  • Do not try to automate every test or put automation in place for every delivered feature. The resultant effect is that your automation will not make sense since this is not usually the best approach to automation.

Automation should be used for reflected changes witnessed once you have implemented a new feature. It can also be used for regression testing, which calls for repeated test execution.

  • Do not aim for 100% code coverage as it does not exist. You cannot cover the entire software code through manual or automation testing. However, even if you strive and cover the entire code, it does not dictate the quality of the test. We, therefore, advise that you resort to one-to-one test translation, which is highly relevant in automation testing. However, even this will not give you 100-percent test coverage of the given application, as it is impossible to automate the entire process.

Which then is the best approach according to these two scenarios/ the best way to conduct effective automation testing is to keep the test cases small and lean. These are normally challenging to execute, even though they let you make quick changes that meet the regression requirements.

This approach will also reduce the maintenance of large test suites with several scenarios, codes, and configurations. Small and lean test cases will reduce a big chunk of the development process load.

5.      Ensure That You Have an All-Round Visibility of The Testing Process

Product development brings together different people with different roles. These are the project stakeholders, managers, and several other project team members. The testing process should not be left to the testers and the quality assurance members only but should encompass everyone on the project team.

The automation process should be both accessible and straightforward and the results communicated to all the project members. Every member’s view should also be obtained regarding the trends, overall code quality, and the statistics in the test process. These can help in the implementation of more automation.

Making the results visible will empower the formation of a positive perspective, which will help in the periodic update of test scripts and enhance collaboration. This is definitely what you want.

6.      Monitor the Development Environment

It is usually advisable to monitor both the developers and the development environment continuously. Remember, the development process in agile takes is made up of a network from the back-end system architecture and front-end interactions through virtual machines and external databases.

Therefore, a bug may emanate from any source other than the application. It may be caused by configurations, a form of bad networks between devices, or even features within the development environment.

The testing team must therefore understand how all the environments associated with the product development functions. This will come in handy as it ensures that the team focuses on product quality other than mainly trying to uncover the cause or origin of the bug.

Therefore, this best practice in agile automation testing requires that the team must always be on the lookout for the different processes on top of having everything in place to ensure that test automation is effective and efficient as needed in agile development.

7.      Ensure That You Perform Cross-Browser and Cross-Platform Testing as Early as During the Onset Stages

Cross-browser support becomes very important during the late stages of agile development, given the increase in traffic. During the early stages, one should expect limited traffic from involved browsers. Therefore, more focus should be placed on making the entire product cross-browser compatible at early stages to avoid the resource and time intensiveness of the later stages.

We, therefore, advise that you perform cross-browser testing of your application from the word go. Investing in a testing infrastructure can be quite costly for a startup, and in such cases, you have the option of leveraging the cloud. It is possible to get several browsers to run your tests on and a scalable cloud infrastructure that requires no maintenance, scaling, or development.

8.      Leverage DevOps Integration

DevOps comes in handy in agile development, given that it combines development, testing, and operations. It is, therefore, an indispensable tool for agile development teams and comes with its fair share of benefits such as same team collaboration and cross functioning, which is essential for instant feature development and continuous software development processes.

DevOps also recognizes shared working environments, meaning that apart from automated testing, development and code integration will also happen simultaneously and in real-time. The resultant effect is a better placed and more efficient development life cycle.

These are some of the best practices that every testing and agile team should adhere to in agile automation testing.

Conclusion

We have exhausted everything that you need to know regarding agile automation testing. We hope that you will adhere to the discussed best practices to achieve the results you desire.

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