How to run Regression Testing in Agile Teams
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - May 5, 2021
Here’s the thing.
Agile software development has brought forth a slew of advantages that have unquestionably revolutionized the process for the better. Achieving faster ROI and time-to-market, better-incorporating user feedback, constant upgrades: these benefits have made Agile the most favored development model in the industry.
However, like all things in life, Agile has its issues. In particular, it is a challenge to balance Agile sprints with iterative practices like regression testing.
This article will explore these challenges and outline how they can be addressed so that robust Agile development pipelines can run comprehensive regression tests without losing out on the benefits of speed, efficiency, and accuracy.
What is the issue with Regression Testing and Agile?
As the name suggests, Agile development is about speed. Sprint cycles are short (two weeks at most, usually less), and developers push out specific features in each. Test cycles must also be timed in similar bursts to keep pace with development.
However, in the real world, every time a new feature is introduced, it needs to be tested along with all the already existing features. With every new build, there is a possibility that recent code will clash with previously written code, thus disrupting existing features or functions. User experience needs to be improved by new functions, not degraded.
Regression testing helps achieve this by checking if new code contradicts or scrambles older features. It ensures that new code enhances, or at least leaves old code unaffected with every build.
Obviously, repeating tests of increasingly expanding codebases is time-consuming, not to mention tedious and prone to error if done manually. Additionally, regression test cases should be kept up to date by removing test cases related to previously tested features and adding those pertaining to the newly added ones.
To avoid this, regression testing needs to be strategized and set up in alignment with Agile principles and processes to avoid this.
Regression Testing in Agile Development
To incorporate regression testing into Agile pipelines, QA teams have to streamline and prioritize tests via a risk-based, collaborative approach. Additionally, they must heavily use automation so that tests can be accelerated enough to match Agile timelines.
Let’s look at some techniques for regression testing in the agile process:
- Risk-based approach: QA teams choose test cases related to software modules most affected by recent changes, rank them according to risk level, and run tests accordingly.High-risk test cases cover critical software functions, which are visible to end-users, defect-prone or integral to overall functionality. Medium-risk cases cover exceptional situations (negative test results, boundary value tests, etc.). Low-priority tests cover all other aspects and are generally included in the final regression test before a major product release.
Are you clear on the differences between Bug Severity vs Priority in Testing?
- Collaborative approach: The QA team covers every change introduced in a sprint. They do this by structuring tests by priority and then allowing other team members to suggest corrections if needed. In this case, developers opine on whether recently added features can affect critical functions, thus keeping QA scripts and structures on track and efficient.
Best Practices for Regression Testing in Agile Environment
To begin with, Agile teams must include testers from the beginning of each sprint so that they can structure tests and keep updating them right from the initial development stage.
A few other agile regression testing best practices are:
- Opt for Automation: To speed up regression tests for Agile sprints, automation is non-negotiable. Start with an automated regression test script, then make modifications with every new feature. That way, QAs have to focus on making incremental changes with every sprint, and not actually run the tests themselves.Bear in mind that testers will have to invest some manual test effort in the early stages – studying product flow, software logic, UI changes, etc. Automated regression tests are best introduced after the software has been developed to a certain extent with some major changes already in place. Additionally, punctuate regression tests with manual verifications to look out for false positives or negatives.
As mentioned before, regression test suites have to be updated every time changes are made to the software in development. Review it after each sprint, discard obsolete test cases and add relevant ones to streamline quality assurance.
With automated regression testing on BrowserStack, access infrastructure of 2000+ real mobile devices and desktop browsers on the cloud, capable of executing tests and delivering feedback in time, every time. When running tests on BrowserStack, tests fail only when they find an error in the application or test script, and never from unavailable browsers or devices. No more false positives. Use parallel testing to get test feedback in minutes. Distribute regression tests across hundreds of parallels and run them all at once.
- Don’t aim for 100% automation: No matter how refined the test infrastructure, 100% automation is not possible. At the very least, test scripts have to be written, and results verified by human testers. In the best-case scenario, 70 to 90% automation is realistic because a certain number of test cases will result in false positives/negatives and are unsuitable for regression tests.
- Zero in on the most vulnerable software areas: Most developers and testers know their software well enough to narrow down the areas/functions/features that are most prone to being affected by changes in every sprint. Additionally, user-facing functions and integral backend issues must also be verified with regular regression tests.As mentioned previously, the collaborative approach to regression testing in agile development helps with this, because it brings developers into the mix. Devs can point out exactly which parts of the app are most likely to be destabilized by new code, and QAs can shape regression tests accordingly.
Challenges of Regression Testing in Agile
Before venturing into regression testing in a scrum, one must be acquainted with some of the major challenges likely to pop up:
- Too many changes: Agile methods incorporate stakeholder feedback after every sprint, which is a good strategy to prevent major changes in later stages. However, if management and users suggest too many changes to product requirements, it might require regression test scripts to be reworked from scratch in the middle of a project.
- Expanding test suites: The scale of regression tests increases with every sprint as new features are added. With sufficient automation and team structure, the suites can quickly become unwieldy and unmanageable.
- Pressures of test case maintenance: Expanding test suites also need to be maintained, examined, and updated after each sprint. Obsolete tests need to be removed, new tests need to be crafted and added. This can be tedious if a project requires too many iterations.
- Communication requirements: Testers have to be in constant communication with developers, business analysts, users, and other stakeholders. They need this to be familiar with the features being built as well as user expectations. For small teams, in particular, this might be difficult to achieve and maintain.
- Requirements for automation skills: Automation requires testers with technical skills and ample knowledge of test automation frameworks like Selenium, Appium, multiple programming languages, and experience with running tests in different environments. For teams starting out with Agile development, consolidating a team of such individuals might pose financial and time-related challenges.
Regression tests are integral to any development structure as they ensure that incremental development does not break an application at any juncture. Designing and executing regression testing to adapt to Agile needs combines the best of Agile principles with the safeguarding schematics of comprehensive testing – so as to deliver defect-free, high-quality user experiences in competitive timelines.