For the past years, Agile methodology is recognized as an innovative approach to developing and testing software. Based on the 2018 VersionOne’s State of Agile Report, nearly many of the large corporations worldwide are using agile in some sort.
However, some respondents noted that adopting agile is not commonly used within their corporations. This simply shows that it is still a long way to go in agile’s full adoption and functionality.
What is agile’s definition? Why is this software has been so popular these days? This article explores what agile methodology is all about and what is the best approach in introducing it within your organization in detail.
Agile is not the only solution
Each firm is distinct and encounters various internal issues and factors (e.g. size of organization and stakeholders) and external factors (e.g. clients and regulations). To address the changing needs of different organizations, several agile methodologies and types of testing can be undertaken while applying one of those agile methodologies. The right mix for your team is based on your internal and external factors, business needs, and organizational goals. Some of the most widely used agile methodologies and testing methods include:
- Behavior-driven development
- Acceptance test-driven development
- Exploratory testing
- Session-based testing
Two types of agile methodologies
What is the agile scrum definition? As commonly defined, scrum is one of the widely used software testing methodologies employed by 58% of organizations based on VersionOne’s records. This uses a highly iterative process that focuses on identifying the main features and goals before taking on every sprint. It is created to minimize risk while promoting value instantly.
Scrum lists the requirement or user story that details how features should be carried out and evaluated. The team then starts the cycles with a series of sprints to achieve mini bursts of value quickly. To assist how the team will work in a flexible approach and prevent potential priority shifting, Scrum responds from the inquiries at the very start.
Scrum vs. Waterfall
What makes Scrum different from Waterfall? Although Waterfall involves various testing and bug fixing cycles prior to product release, Scrum is much more collaborative and iterative. One of the main differences is that Waterfall seeks heavy documentation initially. This documentation process makes it difficult to modify the features as the process continues. In general, this can have a negative impact on some environments like consumer-grade software. In others, this can have a positive effect like is a team wanting to launch a rocket. No one seeks risky requirements that shift most often.
Basically, Scrum is like “mini waterfalls.” It has well-defined requirements before starting at every sprint and should not be shifting within it. The only difference is that the detailed requirements for the succeeding sprint are not being set months ahead.
Digging deeper about Scrum, it requires more frequent collaboration among testers, developers, and business units. They do this through daily standups and sprint retrospectives to have proper communication and alignment. Also, a Scrum Master is tasked to keep the project going by eliminating team blockers to ensure everybody is working at his most effective pace. The Scrum Master can be anyone involved the team like a senior developer or tester.
Scrum is known for providing one of the easiest team transitions, especially those who initially used the Waterfall environment. Scrum is time-based with sprints and releases that can be planned early. It provides quicker iterations and improved collaboration.
With its fast iterations, Scrum can be best used for teams with customers and stakeholders who seek to be actively involved in monitoring the working products at the showcase meetings. The collaboration enables the team to modify upcoming showcases. The key members involved in the Scrum approach are product owner, Scrum Master, developers, testers, automation engineers, and stakeholders.
Scrum best practices
Aside from improved communication, collaboration and adaptability, other best practices for the testers using a Scrum methodology are:
- Identify acceptance criteria based on communication through a user story provided by a sales representative or customer. This direct link reduces potential miscommunication between parties.
- Use the acceptance criteria to create the code and ensure the team’s code approval.
- Test the code in both sandbox-like and production-like environments before deployment to production
Essentially, Kanban is a very simple Agile-based methodology that focuses on manufacturing. Toyota conceptualized it to assist in increasing productivity in its production facilities. In its core, Kanban is considered a huge, prioritized to-do list. With a resemblance to Scrum, Kanban requirements are being tracked by their existing process stage (e.g. to-do, being developed, testing, and completed).
However, unlike scrum that is time-based, Kanban is not. Instead, it is solely based on priority. In case a developer is preparing for the next task, he checks the to-do list. With fewer planning meetings, this only means the team needs to collaborate most often. In this methodology, once the developers are working much faster than the testers, there is a possibility to experience bottlenecks. In times like this, team members should assist in different areas. To accomplish this, this needs a great deal of flexibility and adaptability within the group.
Kanban vs. Waterfall
Kanban has the same requirements as Waterfall. However, in Kanban, the requisites can be modified, and the testing team does not have to test each requirement unless the developer asks for it in cases of a backlog. Generally, Waterfall is mainly time-based with much overhead in planning. The thorough planning in a Waterfall environment has benefits in some cases, like developing expensive things, but it’s not frequently needed. In Kanban, product releases can still be planned. However, teams usually don’t provide features with timeframes unless the item being questioned is at the priority list of the backlog.
Kanban simplifies the transition for the right teams. To ensure the smooth transition to Kanban, the team consisting of developers, business analysts, stakeholders, and testers should meet regularly. As you transition to Kanban, it is vital to consider that this methodology provides a faster means to bring code to production. However, the code can have some technical debt. The reason behind is that developing without being aware of what's next doesn't provide creating the most reusable code.
Kanban is designed for small teams or organizations that don’t develop features for the public or provide timelines for product releases. Also, it is a preferred methodology for any products or teams designed mainly on maintenance tasks as bugs are not frequently straightforward and need thorough research to resolve. In turn, this makes time management quite challenging. Certain teams that cannot reduce planning time for resolving issues are likely better off when employing a Scrum or Waterfall methodology. The key members involved in a Kanban environment are project manager, product owner, developers, automation engineers, and testers.
Kanban best practices
Aside from ensuring visibility and emphasizing collaboration, the best practices for Kanban testers are:
- Keep open communication lines between the testers, business owners, and developers.
- Ensure a flexible team that can take other tasks outside of their core responsibilities to reduce bottlenecks.
- Enable everyone as product owner so that they fully care about the final product.