Quick, continuous, and collaborative — these are three words that characterize agile software development. IT experts have used the agile software development method to revolutionize company workflows and enhance project management since its conception in the early 2000s. At its core, the agile method contains two key principles: a teamwork philosophy and responsiveness priority. These qualities are fundamental to the emerging field of agile testing as developers aim to validate client requirements and rapidly complete projects via iterative development. Regular software testing is essential to any project’s success, and consistent communication is inherent to agile workflows.
With proper implementation, agile testing offers a variety of advantages over other methods like the waterfall workflow. In fact, projects developed using agile workflows have greater success rates than their waterfall counterparts — with 42% and 14% being successful, respectively. Through concurrent development promotions and testing throughout project life cycles, agile testing can ease developers’ stress from time constraints and reduce the costs of software changes. Furthermore, due to its inherent short-term goals and frequent inspection points, agile testing reduces project delay risks and failures. Like other project management tools, agile testing has its share of benefits — and also its share of challenges. Overall, many tech leaders are finding that automated testing can be advantageous for software development agility.
Automation can improve project efficiencies, decrease errors, and reduce costs across industries. As clients’ needs change regularly, agile development teams are better suited for quick, successful adaptation. And by automating testing efforts, software developers can free up their workloads to focus more on innovation and less on redundant tasks.
But testing automation benefits stretch beyond saving development team members time and effort. Automation can also promote more exhaustive testing. More important, as developers automate and perform additional tests, end-user confidence levels in agile systems are likely to improve as fewer errors occur. In other words, more frequent and comprehensive tests often lead to higher-quality results.
Unfortunately, incorporating automation into agile development is not without complexity. Two noteworthy automated agile testing challenges include personnel skills gaps and changing software functionalities. It’s already difficult enough to find testers and developers with the right skill sets and agile-ready systems in place; finding those with automation expertise only exacerbates the challenge. Software development teams may also grapple with changing functionalities in iterations. By identifying and tracking constants before test design, developers can prevent rework, especially in cases that include application volatility. Not every test should be automated, however. Testers must know what’s ripe for automation and what they should leave to manual processes. If you’re unsure whether your software development testing could benefit from automation or you’re lacking vital in-house talent and infrastructure to optimize your testing efforts, it could be best to partner with an objective third-party vendor. The right partner can offer the insight and analysis necessary for smart decision-making and effective collaboration.
As testing automation tools improve, more organizational leaders will likely adopt agile workflows into their software development processes. Here are some considerations for tech leaders planning to implement automated testing:
- Test frequency — Are you running tests more than once? If so, are you running them regularly? If the answer is no, you should not automate these tests.
- Cost — Is it prohibitively expensive to run the tests manually? Do certain factors make running the tests impossible without automation? These are good candidates for automation. If it’s one-off test, however, you also shouldn’t automate it as it wouldn’t be cost-effective to build a framework for a single test.
- Error — Does the test succeed in correcting errors in the most problematic areas, such as those where manual testing would falter? Automate these, but keep in mind that short testing suites should have no more than 5% automation defects.
- Time — Is the test prohibitively time-consuming due to many data combinations or outputs? These tests could be candidates for automation.
- Measurement — Are the results you expect constant between tests? Do you have an acceptable margin of error for variations? Do you have a consistent measurement system for test results? Establish these parameters prior to automating testing.
Despite some challenges, those looking to increase development agility often look to automated testing. This process can help bring out the best in your team members by complementing their skill sets and simplifying much of their workloads. With the right preparations, you can make the most of automated testing, saving time and money as well as ensuring optimal software development.