Agile Testing: Striking A Balance Between Manual and Automated Testing in an Agile Environment

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Agile is an iterative software development methodology wherein requirements evolve through collaboration between the customer and self-organizing teams. It is not sequential, but rather a continuous process. 

Agile testing is a software testing process that follows Agile principles. In an Agile environment, Agile testing is the only way to ensure continuous delivery of a product, as it provides feedback on an ongoing basis, allowing the product to meet business needs and satisfy customer requirements. Agile testing can be either manual or automated; these testing methods provide great benefits on their own, but when properly combined, can offer the best of both worlds. 

In this article, we are going to review the benefits of Agile testing and uncover why finding a balance between automated and manual testing can lead to more efficient teams, as well as better results for the entire company. Equipped with this knowledge, we’ll be able to achieve our delivery goals faster than ever before.

What is Agile Testing and How Can It Help You?

The Agile methodology focuses on integrating work teams, customers, and users to produce quality software in shorter time frames. Agile testing operates under the same philosophy and considers continuous testing as a crucial part of the development process.

Agile testing provides ample benefits, including:

• Happier work teams: Clearly defined, achievable goals help to create a sense of accomplishment within the team.

• Enhanced client communication: Clients are actively involved within the development process and help to clearly define the acceptance criteria.

• Improved product quality: By addressing the team’s needs and feedback, issues are solved faster and more efficiently, which translates into higher quality products.

• Faster software product releases: Agile testing provides high-quality products that accurately address customers’ needs.

Because new versions of software appear frequently, testers must get through as many tests as possible in an iteration. To achieve this, adding automated testing tools is imperative.

This leads us to a common question: can everything be automated?

Finding Balance Between Manual and Automated Testing

The purpose of automated testing in an Agile environment is to make the software development process both more efficient and effective. Automated testing helps elevate product quality, while also optimizing testing times and minimizing resource consumption, which lowers software development costs. For automated testing to make sense, it’s vital to keep things simple. Building small and lean cases makes it easier to execute and allows the team to perform quick changes according to regression requirements.

Can the whole testing process be automated? The short answer is no. These are the reasons why:

• It’s Impossible to Foresee Every Scenario

Test cases are written in advance, and no matter how much thought goes into them, there are usually too many variables to predict everything that could happen. Different ways of processing test data and diverse test environments could break the code. Another common problem is what is colloquially known as operational blindness. This happens when certain areas are not taken into consideration when testing because they are considered stable or it was believed they wouldn’t be affected by the introduction of a new feature. For example, introducing the functionality of “Print page” could potentially break the “Page display” functionality because, while this feature was not “touched” by the developer, it interacts with the “Page layout” at a level that is unknown to anyone until it breaks. Things like this are impossible to verify unless a test of the application’s basic flow is executed. These basic flows, also known as Smoke Tests, are performed manually, since they are faster and more practical than running automated tests. 

• Automated Tools Aren’t Users

Software is built to satisfy the needs of users. Human users, that is. Therefore, testing also requires a human touch. Automated testing tools can’t push the on, off, or pause buttons. They don’t have fingerprints to test security sensors on devices. Additionally, technology alone can’t provide data regarding user satisfaction, ease of use, or aesthetics. That is to say that an automated tool can’t say if the application is eye-catching or user-friendly. You will always need human interaction for that. 

• The Role of Manual Testing in Agile Environments

When it comes to Agile environments, a tester plays a more prominent role than in traditional settings. Because the basis of Agile is a collaborative work environment, testers become an integral part of the team from the planning stage through the final product release. Moreover, because testers take part in client conversations, they are more in tune and therefore more responsive to the customer’s changing needs, placing them in a unique position to provide immediate feedback concerning the project’s status.

Balance is the Key to Successful Testing

In today’s business world, nothing is ever black or white. When it comes to Agile testing, finding the right balance between automated and manual testing is the key to success. For companies to remain competitive, creating software products that provide excellent quality and an exceptional user experience is vital. 

This is why opting for just one method of testing is not advisable. The risk of failure would simply be too high. An integrated testing process that combines automation’s efficiency and efficacy with humans’ insight and foresight is the winning strategy. In other words, striking a balance between manual and automated testing is key to achieving high-quality products, which will ultimately give your company a competitive advantage.

Resources 

12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto 

 

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Edward Kelly
Edward Kelly

Edward Kelly is a Manual QA for Gaia. He is experienced in testing Mobile, Web, and Stand-Alone applications. With over 10+ years of experience in testing and user interaction.

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