Automated Regression Testing Challenges in Agile Environment

Starting an Automated Regression Testing with Agile methodologies?

  • “Is it possible to use Agile methodologies in Automated Regression Testing?”,
  • “Can traditional tools be used”?
  • “How efficient open-source testing tools are?”
  • “What are the challenges of implementing regression test automation in Agile Environment”.

In this article, let us analyze some of the key challenges faced while implementing Regression Test Automation with Agile methodologies. Automated regression testing services in the Agile environment stands a risk of becoming chaotic, unstructured and uncontrolled.

Agile Projects have their own challenges with respect to test automation. Vague project scope, numerous iterations, negligible documentation and early & frequent Automation requests mandate a lot of challenges to the Test Automation Team.

Some of these challenges are discussed below

Challenge 1: Requirement Phase

Regression Test Automation developer captures requirements in the form of “user stories”, which are brief descriptions of customer-oriented functionality.

Each requirement has to be prioritized as follows:

High: The mission critical requirements that are absolute to be considered in the first release

Medium: The requirements which are important but can be worked around until implemented.

Low: These requirements are nice-to-have but not critical to the operation of the software.

The release “iterations” are planned, once priories are established. Normally, each Agile release iteration takes between 1 to 3 months to deliver. Customers/software folks take the liberty to make too many changes to the requirements. Sometimes, these changes prove to be volatile that the iterations are bounced off. These changes are greater challenges while implementing agile regression testing process.

Challenge 2: Selecting Right Testing Tool

Traditional, testing tools with record-and-playback-features force the testing teams to wait until the complete iteration of the software is done.

Additionally, traditional test automation tools don’t work in Agile context because they only solve traditional problems, and those are different from the challenges faced by the Agile Automation teams.

Test Automation in the early stages of an agile project is generally very tough, but as the system grows and evolves, some aspects settle and it becomes appropriate to deploy automation.

So the choice of testing tools becomes critical for reaping the efficiency and quality benefits of agile.

Challenge 3: Script Development

The Automation testers, developers, business analysts and project stakeholders contribute to kick-off meetings where “user-stories” are selected for the next sprint.

Once the “user-stories” are selected then they are used as the basis for a set of tests.

With each iteration, the functionality grows and regression testing must be performed to ensure that existing functionality has not been impacted by the introduction of new functionality in every iteration cycle.

The scale of the regression testing grows with each sprint and ensures that this remains a manageable task the test team to use the test automation for the regression suite.

Challenge 4: Resource Management

The Agile approach requires a mixture of testing skills. The testing resource will be required to define unclear scenarios and test cases, conduct manual testing along with the developers, write automated regression tests and execute the automated regression packages.

As the project progresses, specialist skills will also be required to cover further test areas that might include integration and performance testing services.

There should be an appropriate mix of domain specialist who plan and gather requirements. The challenging part in the Resource management is to find out test resources with multiple skills and allocate them.

Challenge 5: Communication

Good communication must exist among Automation testing team, developers, business analysts, and stakeholders.

There must be a highly collaborative interaction between client and the delivery teams. More client involvement implies more suggestions or changes from the client. It implies more bandwidth for communication.

The key challenge is that the process should be able to capture and effectively implement all the changes and data integrity needs to be retained.

In traditional testing, developers and testers are like oil and water, but in the agile environment, the challenging task is that they both must work together to achieve the target.

The agile team is spread across the globe based on the size of the project. Hence, it is imperative to maintain proper defect tracking and the communication channel to make a successful agile testing process.

Defect tracking tools such as Bugzilla, Jira, Mantis, HP/ALM, BugNet etc. should be used to keep track on the bugs logged.

These tools also help to closely watch if the bugs are getting repeated in the subsequent test cycle. For effective communication channels such as Skype, TeamViewer, SharePoint, Slack, Jive can be used. Besides, proper task allocation, stakeholder’s responsibilities, the creation of proper email distribution list will all help avoid miscommunication.

Challenge 6: Daily Scrum Meeting

Daily Scrum Meeting is one of the key activities in Agile Process. Teams meet for 15 minutes stand up sessions. The effectiveness of these meetings and how far these meetings have helped Automation Practice is always a challenge

Challenge 7: Release Phase

The aim of the Agile project is to deliver a basic working product as quickly as possible and then to go through a process of continual improvement.

This means that there is no single release phase for a product. The challenging part lies in integration testing and acceptance testing of the product.

If all these challenges are addressed in a well-optimized manner, then Automated Regression Testing in the Agile environment is an excellent opportunity for QA to take leadership of the agile processes.

It is better placed to bridge the gap between users and developers, understand both what is required, how it can be achieved and how it can be assured prior to deployment.

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Automation practice should have a vested interest in both the how and the result, as well as continuing to assure that the whole evolving system meets business objectives and is fit for purpose.

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