5 Lessons for Agile Testers from 2018

This is a guest posting by Nishi Grover Garg.

Every year we see the software industry evolving at a rapid pace. This implies changes in the way testing is conducted within the software lifecycle, test processes, techniques and tools, and the tester’s skill set, too.

I’ve been into agile for more than a decade, and I’m still learning, changing and growing each year along with our industry. Here are five of my key lessons and observations from 2018. I hope they help you in the coming year!

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Testing Earlier in DevOps

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As DevOps is becoming a mandated trend in most teams, big or small, it has brought along the need for testers to contribute to continuous processes, too. Testers already know the benefits of shifting their testing efforts left, and now with DevOps, they need to chime in at the earliest possible point in the software development lifecycle.

These days, testers should not only understand the pipeline to ensure a smooth delivery, but also set up test-related practices and exit criteria at every step of the way. There are many specific courses designed to help testers see DevOps from their side, and we can find our required learning opportunities based on our context and tools. Testers, come and join the DevOps party!

Getting Outside the Box

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Teams should be constantly exploring opportunities to network and finding ways to learn outside of their organizations. Simply excelling in your own project or technology may not be enough anymore. Teams with people willing to look outside their usual atmosphere and bring back what they learned will have more chances of success.

Consequently, whether you’re a developer or a tester, you must look for ways to gain new ideas from other people (and share your own knowledge) by participating in online forums, signing up for web seminars, attending meetups and conferences, and following popular industry blogs. Every small step in this direction will give your team the benefit of your learnings, along with giving you exposure and visibility in the community.

Increasing Focus on Usability Testing

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With new websites and mobile apps launching every day, users can choose from a ton of offerings, and retention time and attention spans decline. This poses new challenges for software development teams because now, in addition to proving the product’s functionality, they have to concentrate on getting and retaining business users, too.

Usability is a big factor in software development, and usability testing forms a big learning area for software testers. Testers must learn about focus areas like learnability, understandability, attractiveness and user friendliness of the application, according to their context. Applying techniques such as informal general interviews and brainstorming to very formal usability labs and surveys can help paint a complete picture. Testers must have a special focus on usability to ensure the satisfaction of their users.

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Enhancing Mobile and Performance Testing

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Most products today are available as mobile apps, and most websites are being accessed on smartphones. This makes mobile testing a major skill set and learning area. Performance of every mobile application is of concern. How many times have we downloaded an app and deleted it within minutes? And how many times have we opened a website on our phone and closed the tab after a few clicks because it just wouldn’t load or look right?

This highlights how much performance is a major focus area for the development team, beginning with building lighter APIs and keeping the number of anticipated users in mind while designing the application. Testers also need to master the required performance testing skills and tools relating to their context and be able to think of risk areas related to performance, load and stress.

Integrating Tools and Analyzing Metrics

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With increased focus on continuous integration and shortening delivery cycles, we need faster ways of performing smart testing and test analytics. Integrating testing within continuous delivery pipelines requires testers to learn tools and techniques for white-box and API-level tests along with functional test automation that can be rerun continuously.

Testing-related data and metrics are gathered from various sources, such as requirement management systems, test management tools, defect life-cycles and change management tools. This implies that testers need to get ahead of the curve and learn the best ways to integrate these systems with tools that can provide generic functionalities in one place. Gathering these metrics and running data analysis will provide ways to improve test effort, optimize test case execution and reduce recurrence of main defect areas.

Looking Ahead to 2019

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Every new year brings a change in our perspectives. Ideas emerge from past lessons and pave the way for new beginnings, so I recommend analyzing the previous year to discover opportunities for improvement for yourself and your team.

Happy New Year, and happy testing!

Nishi is a consulting Testing and Agile trainer with hands-on experience in all stages of software testing life cycle since 2008. She works with Agile Testing Alliance(ATA) to conduct various courses, trainings and organising testing community events and meetups, and also has been a speaker at numerous testing events and conferences. Check out her blog where she writes about the latest topics in Agile and Testing domains.

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