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Scrum Testing: Doing It Right

02 Jun 2020

Testing in Scrum is one of the most hotly debated topics in the already combative Scrum community which rarely sees eye to eye. 

Try to do a search on Scrum testing and you will hear a thousand voices sharing a thousand opinions, rarely agreeing with any of the other voices. 

In this article, we will investigate what makes Scrum testing such a peculiar beast, how it differs from “traditional” software testing and how you can avoid mistakes that some Scrum teams make.  

Turning Tradition on Its Head 

First off, it’s imperative to understand how Scrum testing differs from traditional testing. 

The latter approach used to be mainstream doctrine. It required testers to step in only after the research and development stages had been completed. They would test the product and report on bugs in order to enable smooth deployment. 

Then, the development team would take over to iron out any detected errors. This strict hierarchy of phases was seen as beneficial for ensuring stability and predictably over the course of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). 

Among other things, Scrum testing aims to address one glaring flaw of the traditional method— lack of flexibility. Dynamic and interactive, it does away with the fixed sequence of tasks teams have to go through. Since testing isn’t something left for the last stage of the project (like in the Waterfall methodology), the testing window broadens significantly. 

The product delivery frame is shorter and deadlines sharper. The whole team takes responsibility for building a quality, working, and bug-free solution. 

Extensive Revamping of Processes

The basic idea behind Scrum testing is simple. 

During iterative cycles, organizations stay quick on their feet and make changes as soon as possible. Namely, self-organizing teams should react the moment user requests for modifications emerge. Two processes that allow for this superior agility are constant communication and consumer feedback. 

In other words, testers always observe a product from the standpoint of the end-user. A handful of Scrum Events are designed to facilitate this perspective: 

While they will address different aspects of delivering a great piece of software, these events will focus on different parts of the process and help testers contribute at every point in the SDLC, not just towards the end. 

New Requirements and Challenges 

It’s worth pointing out the Agile environment puts forward some unique challenges. 

Testers are obliged to follow a new set of rules that form the core of the Scrum framework. First and foremost, testing takes place throughout the SDLC, meaning one has to adhere to it from the get-go. 

Furthermore, there is a much tighter collaboration between testers and developers than before. The testers are even encouraged to learn new concepts related to development, such as architectural diagrams and programming languages.  

They are also exposed to essential business logic and internal workings of how applications work. They may need to have informative consultations with business analysts and developers. In such an environment, the “tunnel vision” mindset doesn’t yield results. 

Instead, it’s necessary to grasp the big picture, development terminology, and business case scenarios. 

Of course, for some testers, this could be quite a lot to handle. The learning curve, however, mustn’t be used as an excuse. Getting familiar with the new testing requirement is a matter of survival in the dynamic market of today. 

Testing Automaton 

Another innovation comes in the form of testing automation. 

Scrum teams need to embrace this change and make the most of it. There are a couple of reasons for this. Automaton speeds testing up without compromising its quality. What is more, it decreases risks that occur during regression testing, making it much easier to pace up this process and ward off burnout. 

To ensure these outcomes, testers have to step up their skills and capabilities. A good place to start is learning about the automation toolset fit for Scrum testing. 

And there’s no shortage of great tools one can go for:

  • Jenkins
  • Codeship
  • Appium
  • Selenium WebDriver
  • GitLab
  • Etc.

One can also leverage services in the league of Testing. They hinge on automated functional testing and mount artificial intelligence engines. Hence, they are a sound choice for accelerating authoring, execution, and maintenance. 

Finally, we should mention Behavior Driven Development (BDD) and unit testing tools like JBehave, Pytest, Cucumber, and JUnit. You can’t go wrong with them either. 

The Four Quadrants

One of the ways to approach Scrum testing is the Agile testing quadrants technique developed by Brian Marick.

four agile quadrants

Activities in the Quadrant 1 revolve around inspecting the quality of the code itself. Upon doing that, testers have to provide immediate feedback and developers perform their tasks based on that feedback. In this quadrant, the most common techniques are component architecture testing and unit testing. 

Quadrant 2 is when developers and testers receive a requirement and subsequently take on a set of repetitive tasks, never losing sight of overarching business objectives. One of the key tasks here is testing possible scenarios. On top of that, testers have to prioritize user experience (UX), which calls for wireframe and prototype testing.

Automation fully kicks in going into Quadrant 3. Teams scrutinize product use cases, while scheduled demos are run to keep development on the right tracks. The Quadrant also tends to include Collaborative, User Acceptance, Usability, Exploratory, and Pairwise testing. 

Finally, in Quadrant 4, testers evaluate architecture, stress, load, data migration, and performance. They also test for security flaws using authentication and put other measures in place to thwart cyber threats. 

Note that it takes time to perfect the art of Agile testing via Quadrants, but keep at it. With enough practice, you’ll ramp up your capacities and make short work of bugs and impediments. 

Step by step

Taking into account present market conditions, we would say it’s high time to transition away from a traditional testing environment.

Yes, it’s a big change for those accustomed to the Waterfall model. But, the benefits of adoption are too big to be missed out on. You have the opportunity to take the efficiency of project management and collaboration to the next level.

You can start the endeavor by working out a transitioning strategy that accounts for your specific business case.

Next off, educate all team members on new requirements, techniques, tools, processes, and concepts. Find ways to achieve a higher level of flexibility and adaptability with the initial setup. Examine the product from the consumer’s point of view and solve complex issues on the fly. 

If you play your cards right, you’ll supercharge your production workflow and delight your customers. That’s a true win-win right there.