Over the past few years, Agile has taken over the world of software development for handling the entire process from planning to testing. In a survey of over 40,000 Agile executives, practitioners and consultants, around 95% reported their organizations had adopted Agile, from which 37% were software development companies.
But some are still facing problems in understanding and integrating this methodology. This guide will give a clearer idea about Agile software development and testing, including:
- What is Agile?
- What does Agile promise?
- The advantages and disadvantages of Agile
- What’s the difference between Agile and Waterfall?
- 6 of the most common Agile methodologies
- What is Agile testing?
- The 4 Agile testing methods
What is Agile?
Agile methodology is a process that enables software developers to move through their development cycle and rapidly incorporate changes. It’s a set of rules that encourage communication, adaptability, flexibility and working software over different processes. The Agile model for both development and testing supports concurrent activities, unlike the Waterfall model.
Adopting Agile allows the software development teams to work together more effectively and efficiently.
What does Agile promise?
Agile is about applying the set of practices in the software development process and changing the mindset of team members towards creating better software. It offers:
- On-time delivery of projects
- An authorized development team
- A high-quality product
- Bette communication and collaboration
- Good code design for easy maintenance
The advantages and disadvantages of Agile
As with all methodologies, Agile has its strengths and weaknesses.
The advantages of Agile:
- Shorter software development times
- Client involvement
- Control over work schedule and cost
- Effortless incorporation of changes
- High-quality product
The disadvantages of using Agile methodology:
- Lack of emphasis on required documentation and designing
- Difficult to maintain the level of collaboration
- Incremental delivery affects long-term projects
What’s the difference between Agile and Waterfall?
The Waterfall methodology is a process that enables the software development team to see progress through different phases. It’s a sequential model that moves from requirement analysis to the software maintenance phase.
On the other hand, Agile helps deliver visibility, accountability, value and adaptability, eliminating the chances of project failure.
6 of the most common Agile methodologies
Each software development team has its own requirements, so to help companies carry out their processes, Agile offers several different methodologies. Here are some of the most popular:
Scrum is one of the more common Agile methodologies used by most software developers to lower a software project’s risk. The word scrum is considered a synonym for agile, and as such Scrum is a framework used to carry out Agile.
Companies who adopt Scrum after working under the Waterfall methodology often observe a smooth transition. This is because Scrum offers time-based releases and sprints.
Because of the fast iterations, Scrum methodology is most suitable for teams whose stakeholders or customers want to be highly involved in the work process.
Kanban methodology is used to design, manage and improve a software development workflow. It enables the organization to start working with their existing workflow and slowly drive evolutionary changes. At its core, Kanban can be considered as a large and personalized to-do list.
Unlike Scrum, which is a time-based practice, Kanban is priority-based - whenever the developer is ready to take on a new task, they need to pull it out from the to-do list. As this method has fewer meetings for the planning process, the development team needs to be extremely close.
The most important difference between Scrum and Kanban is that, while working with Scrum sprints, the items can’t be changed in the list - the work for the team members is fixed. In Kanban, the developers can add new tasks between any project's urgent requirements.
Kanban is best suited for small teams or teams that don’t have pre-decided release dates.
When there’s constant change in the project's demands and requirements from the customer’s side, XP is the best technique. Extreme programming methodology enables companies to frequently release project versions or modules by adopting a short development cycle.
XP keeps stakeholders in a tight loop and helps developers maintain the product's quality through constant planning, testing and feedback of the delivered work. There are six phases involved in Agile eXtreme Programming methodology:
Lean methodology is known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy, where the team of software developers release a bare-minimum product with all its core features.
The Lean software development method increases the speed of software development and decreases the development cost by allowing the development team to divide a process into value-adding activities and non-value adding activities.
By adopting the DSDM approach, software teams can rapidly process the Agile project's development and deployment. This method was originally introduced to bring structured discipline to rapid app development methodology, but later became a software development technique.
DSDM requires the active engagement of the users in the project. Besides this, it gives the development team the power to make any decisions.
This methodology uses three techniques: time boxing, prototyping and MoSCow rules. Any project in this method must undergo seven phases:
- Pre-project work
- Practicability study
- Business study
- Functional model repetition
- Designing and creating iteration
- Post-project work
The focus of FDD is to design and build features for the software. FDD describes very precise and short phases of work that have to be practiced separately per feature. This method includes domain walkthrough, code inspection, design inspection and more.
FDD creates software by keeping the targeting the following:
- Domain object modeling
- Class ownership
- Development by feature
- Feature teams
- Configuration management
- Visibility of progress
- Regular builds
What is Agile testing?
Agile testing is a critical factor in Agile software development. It’s different from previous software methodologies, where the testing of software is a separate process that happens after development. In Agile testing, the process of examining development work goes on in a loop. It goes hand in hand with the software development procedure and provides ongoing feedback. Besides this, when we talk about Agile testing, the testers or quality assurance employees are no longer a separate team - they’re all part of the Agile software development team.
The 4 Agile testing methods
The Agile testing process has four different methods to check the quality and responsiveness of the software.
1. Acceptance test-driven development (ATDD)
ATDD includes the end users, software developers and testers in the testing process. Input from these roles is gathered and used to define the ATDD test.
Here, the end user focuses on the software problem, the developer concentrates on the process that can help solve the problem and the tester looks at the stages that could go wrong.
The acceptance tests are generally automated and these tests represent the software user’s perspective and specify the details of how the system will function.
2. Session-based testing
The session-based testing method ensures that the software is tested comprehensively. In this method, test charters are added for the testers to know what to test.
All tests conducted using this methodology are during time-boxed sessions. Each of these sessions end with a face-to-face discussion between the testers and the developers to cover the following points:
- Previous testing methods
- What new things were discovered and corrected by the testers?
- Problems faced by the testing team in the process
- Remaining modules to be tested
- What is the feedback from the testing team about the modules they tested?
3. Behavior-driven development (BDD)
BDD methodology for testing software includes all the project stakeholders to understand each feature of the software before the development process.
In BDD, the three-amigos approach is important; the developers, testers and business analysts generate different scenarios, which explains the example-focused communication. These scenarios are written in a specific format that contains all the information on how a feature of the software behaves in different situations with various input parameters.
The tests are built around these scenarios, which later help create software functionalities that make the scenarios pass.
Best practices that the testing department should follow are:
- To ensure the process is efficient, a document must be streamlined
- Adopt the three-amigos approach and use a declarative test framework to specify the testing criteria
- Reuse the automated tests across all the scenarios
4. Exploratory resting
With exploratory testing, the test design and execution phase are carried out together. Exploratory testing focuses more on interacting with the current working software than planning, creating, and running tests separately.
The exploratory testing method isn’t scripted. In this method, the testers must mimic the user’s behavior and find cases that might break the software.
Some of useful practices the testers should follow include:
- Organizing the functionalities of the software using a spreadsheet or mind map
- Testing which modules were covered in the previous exploratory testing procedure
- Paying attention to the scenarios of the software at higher risks
Agile methodology is meant to improve and advance the software development and testing procedure. The process is more than a project management trend; it’s a project management discipline that emphasizes transparency, communication, and the iterative method. By adopting this methodology, any software development team can fasten their product delivery process and offer a quality product.