Automation Testing for Agile teams | How to Make it Right

How to Implement Automation Testing in Agile teams

The world is witnessing the rise of Agile methodologies in software development. They require a new approach to software testing, which must well align with the nature of Agile, a fast-moving philosophy. Test automation was not born to serve Agile teams, however, it makes Agile testing- a crucial part of the Agile concept- achievable. This article shows all essentials for the implementation of automation testing for Agile teams.

Software Testing in Agile Teams

How Automation testing solves them for Agile teams

Agile Methodology

Agile methodology has been a buzz phrase dominating the software industry in recent years. Many product teams have transitioned from Waterfall to Agile to promote continuous iterations in the software development life cycle (SDLC). In Agile methodology, development and testing processes happen in parallel, presenting the critical need for a collaborative team.

Agile projects require agile testing, which follows all principles of the practice. It is indeed an irreplaceable part of Agile software development. Adopting this approach, QA teams start testing at early stages and keep continuously testing for the entire process instead of waiting for the final build.

As with its proactive nature, Agile enables QA teams to access all basic units and levels of the product to validate its functionality, performance, and appearance. It allows the completion of an Agile SDLC, ensures all client’s requirements are developed correctly, and shortens the time to market, all in a lean way.

Test Automation in Agile vs. Waterfall

Between Agile methodologies and traditional means like Waterfall, the Agile manifesto heightens the principle of interactions and iterations.

From the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB®), an Agile project focuses on establishing:

A people-centered culture. Instead of being dependent on tools to work with different participants, the collaboration from business representatives, QA engineers to developers needs to be streamlined. With distinct and imperative skillsets that each position has, let it be deciding on the product features to develop or a testing strategy to follow, efficient team dynamics is surely determinant to the success of a project.

Sooner and faster feedback. Continuous integration is crucial. Contrasting to traditional approaches in sequential development, stakeholders are now accessible to the status or any issues of the software at any given stage. Some examples such as feature requests or requirements can be addressed and clarified to steer clear of any false expectations from both sides.

Efficient development and project management. Management frameworks like Scrum and Kanban, or the Extreme Programming (XP) approach are what Agile teams often follow to optimize workflows. Different practices and instruments to have iteration-divided projects, symbolized tasks and work-in-progress in tickets to break down large chunks of work to manageable workloads.

Working software delivery with testing and development activities. To keep all testing and development doings in parallel with each other, teams must adhere to the idea of short iteration sequences. Having changed the role of testing to shared responsibility, a simplified process ideally have:

User stories developed with the involvement of both business stakeholders, QA engineers and developers

Unit and integrations tests created and ran by developers as features based on user stories are developed

QA engineers script and run acceptance tests in accordance with the Acceptance Criteria (AC), as well as end-to-end tests to ensure the functionality of the software from top to bottom

Stakeholders utilize pre-written acceptance test scripts to experiment and see if the completed features fulfill the Acceptance Criteria in the user story as feedback for developers

The Importance of Test Automation for Agile Teams

The importance of Test Automation for Agile teams

Challenges posed for Agile methodology in software testing

Agile methodology is the fastest approach to turn an idea into reality, especially for dynamic projects that are constantly changing. Nevertheless, the transformation into Agile is challenging. Its biggest advantage—the capability of continuous iteration—is the root of many major obstacles:

  1. Ever-changing code due to frequent builds and deployments
    • Agile methodology’s nature is meant to adapt to continuous changes. For every single update, the application’s code-based and GUI layers must be tested to ensure that they function correctly upon new changes. It results in a massive amount of regression testing for QA teams to perform.
  2. Extensive test coverage needed under time constraints
    • Agile projects are often broken down into small sprints for the team to complete their work within one to two weeks. In such a short period, the QA team has an intensive workload to ensure the quality of new builds and the functionality of all previous features.
  3. Pressure on software performance
    • With every build, the product comes with more features and improvements, which result in a high volume of added code. The application’s structure becomes more complicated while increasing pressure on its performance. It easily forms bottlenecks in the development process if the QA teams cannot execute all performance tests promptly.
  4. Complicated API testing
    • Modern products, especially mobile applications, are expected to meet intensive data exchange requirements across different servers. API testing must be performed within the entire process to ensure that data integration.

How automation testing solves them for Agile teams

Software testing in Agile teams

While the development work scope is divided into specific sprints, the QA team must always ensure all developed features work well with the current build. With such tremendous testing coverage, manual testing turns out to be a painful option. Automation testing, on the contrary, by its very definition, guarantees time efficiency in test execution and the testing quality overall

Specifically, automation testing in Agile methodology helps:

  1. Handle regression testing with less effort
    • Regression testing is the most significant testing type to be automated. With all repetitive test cases being scripted on hand to run automatically, testers can relieve the pressure of performing them manually.
  2. Extend test coverage
    • Another advantage of test automation for QA teams is the capability to execute tests across browsers and platforms. Thus, the team can cover all possible testing aspects of their project with the right automation tool according to new changes.
  3. Better communication and collaboration
    • A collaborative team is crucial to every Agile project. With the deeper involvement of QA teams in all SDLC stages, communication between developers and testers must flow swiftly to keep up with constant updates. A useful automation testing tool gives the team a powerful reporting capability and robust integration with the CI/CD pipelines.

How to Implement Test Automation Effectively in Agile Teams

How to Implement Test Automation effectively in Agile teams

Test automation contrasts with agility by nature. Automation testing best performs on stable products with little changes in the last minute, not on dynamic projects adapting the Agile methodology. Therefore, knowing how to implement automation in Agile teams is essential before jumping into Agile testing.

Plan and be prepared for Agile beforehand

  • Agile projects can only succeed with inherent Agile teams. QA and development teams are equally essential to the project’s success, from an original idea to the final build. Both sides should be proactive enough to collaborate with each other and the product owner continuously from the early stages while keeping up with all clients’ requirements.
  • Agile is meant to be a lean process that requires the team to finish all planned workload in short sprints. The automation testing plan, including the desired automation framework if the team opts to apply open-source tools, must be designed and built correctly in advance before beginning the project.

Know what test cases to automate in Agile projects

  • Not all test cases in Agile projects are feasible for automation. With a high volume of requirement changes, the Agile team usually comes with instant adjustments in the code base, making it fragile and unstable. Test automation tools cannot handle such fragile objectives and require costly script maintenance in the long run.   
    Regression testing is the must-have candidate to be automated. With “fixed” features in previous sprints, automation reduces time and resources for them while ensuring their functionality against the impact of new changes.
  • Additionally, other ideal objectives for QA teams to automate Agile projects include APT tests, non-functional tests, and tests behind the GUI. In the midst of ever-changing requirements, these tests are considered stable enough for the automation tool to perform at its best.
  • Otherwise, new features that are developed in the current build should be left for manual testing. Automating them in the first place does not benefit the QA team much because they will need to frequently re-test them as new changes occur.

Conduct parallel testing 

  • As the entire Agile development process is all about continuous delivery, parallel testing comes as the right fit in this approach with test automation. Consequential tests become the obstacles that slow down the deployment process.
  • With automation in place, QA teams can execute several tests on different devices, browsers, and operating systems simultaneously. This saves a huge amount of time for the team, especially at the later sprints of the project. Team productivity and test quality are then enhanced in a broad perspective.

Take advantage of DevOps Integration

  • DevOps – a set of practices dedicated to cross-functional collaboration – fuels Agile teams to achieve their goals. The principle bridges the gap between the development, testing, and operation teams, which is a must in all Agile methodologies.
  • DevOps integration allows QA teams to report and share their testing process across teams seamlessly. DevOps integration has been developed as a standard in many automation tools. Testers can opt to integrate the tool into their CI/CD pipelines for a complete solution.

Read more: Top 14 CI/CD tools

 Select the right automation tool 

As mentioned, not all tests in Agile should be automated. However, the choice of automation testing tool for Agile teams should cover the scope of testing as much as possible.   
To do so, the team must consider some criteria when selecting the automation tool, with the nature of Agile methodology in mind: 

  • The tool must support all operating systems that the software is supposed to run on;
  • The tool supports a wide range of divides and browsers to execute parallel testing;
  • The learning curve for the tool should not take too long so that all members of the QA teams can quickly get started;
  • The tool comes with robust reporting and integration capabilities.

Apart from these criteria, there are more requirements for the team to look at to choose the most appropriate automation tool for their projects.

Read more about How to select the right automation testing tool.


The rising demand for Agile applications for almost every software development team makes the competitive advantage of automation stand out. Although the positive outcomes of automation can only be clarified in the long run, QA teams must plan their automation strategies right from the start.

These five steps above are basics for all Agile to keep in mind when deciding to go for test automation. However, the list is not exhaustive. On a case-by-case basis, every team and business will need to consider other factors for their Agile automation testing strategy to utilize the methodology’s benefits best.


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