Agile Testing

Traditional Test specialists may find the following aspects of agile development to be very different than what they are used to:

  • Greater collaboration. Agile developers work closely together, favoring direct communication over passing documentations back and forth to each other.

  • Shorter work cycle. The time between specifying a requirement in detail and validating that requirement is now on the order of minutes, not months or years, due to the adoption of test-driven development approaches, greater collaboration, and less of a reliance on temporary documentation.

  • In Agile you need to embrace change. From Agile developers where requirements change throughout the lifecycle (SPRINT). The requirements evolve throughout the project.

  • Greater flexibility is required of Test specialists. In Agile, the developers do not handoff a complete section. Individual Sprints.

  • Greater discipline is required of IT. Agile development requires far greater discipline than traditional development does.

  • Greater accountability is required of stakeholders. Producing working software on a regular basis (Sprints) these stakeholders are now accountable for the decisions that they make.

  • Greater ranges of skills are required. It isn’t enough to be just a “Specialized” tester, or just a “Specialized” programmer; individuals need to be moving towards a highly iterative and collaborative approach which requires resources to be “specialists in everything and not just specialists”.

Comparing Agile and Traditional Approaches

The agile approach offers many benefits over the traditional V model:

  • Greater ability to deliver required functionality. Agile teams work closely with their stakeholders, which results in greater ability of agile teams to understand and then implement the actual needs of their stakeholders

  • Greater quality. Agile approaches are perceived to result in greater quality than traditional approaches, most likely due to increased collaboration within the team and earlier and very often more testing throughout the lifecycle.

  • Improved designs. Agile results in better designs when compared to more traditional approaches. Architecture and design are so important to agile teams that they do these activities throughout the lifecycle, not just during early lifecycle phases.

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The Implications for Testing

There are several important implications that agile requirements strategies have for agile testing:

  • Agile testing must be iterative. Agile requirements activities, and design activities, and construction activities, are iterative in nature. So must testing activities.

  • Agile test specialists cannot rely on having complete specifications. Requirements are identified, explored, and implemented throughout the lifecycle. There isn’t a single requirements phase which produces a comprehensive requirements specification, therefore your test strategies cannot rely on having a complete specification available.

  • Agile test specialists must be flexible. Test specialists must be prepared to work to the best of their ability, with the information provided to them at the time, with the full understanding that the information they are basing their work on today could change tomorrow.

Agile Testing Strategies

To understand how testing activities fit into agile system development it is useful to look at it from the point of view of the system delivery lifecycle (SDLC).

This is a typical SDLC Agile Lifecycle:

  • Project Initiation
    • The Whole team
    • The Independent Test Team
    • Test Environment Setup


  • Development Team Testing
    • Continuous Integration
    • Test-Driven Development (TDD)
    • Test Immediately during a Sprint


  • Parallel Independent Testing

  • Defect Managements

  • End of Sprint Testing

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