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Common Challenges Faced by Testers in the Agile Methodology

By SiliconIndia   |   Tuesday, 27 November 2012, 22:44 Hrs   |    3 Comments
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Bangalore: With the growing complexity of software development, many software development firms are slowly adopting the agile methodology to overcome the various challenges of waterfall. Using the agile methodology, testing teams are able to bring down the time taken to test a product, easily make last minute changes and ensures that at the end of any of the testing stage, the product is ready for release.

However, the shift from waterfall to agile methodology has an impact on the testing teams. The differences between these two methodologies pose many challenges to the testers.   Take a look at some of the challenges of agile testing.

1.    Lack of documentation
The lack of appropriate documentation is one of the biggest challenges faced by testers. Without proper documentation, testers cannot validate the results with the developers or whether the application is functioning as expected.

2.    Find the hidden bugs
Before sending the application or the product to the testing teams, developers are expected to unit test the application. However, when developers perform inadequate unit testing on the application, it is left to the testers to find the bugs that went unnoticed. Considering the testing deadline, finding the bugs is indeed a challenging task for most of the testers.

3.    Broken Code
Another major challenge faced by testers are the codes accidentally broken due to frequent builds. Codes are changed and compiled on a daily basis and there are high chances for the codes to break.

4.    Performance Problems
As the complexity of the software increases, the more problems it will have with regards to its performance. As its complexity increases, a developer would need to add more lines of code. While adding the extra codes, if the developer doesn’t focus on the impact of the changes on the en-user, it can introduce some performance issues which can ruin the end- user experience.

5.    Last minute changes
Although agile testing welcomes last minute changes to the application, however, at times it becomes difficult for the testers to accommodate the changes, especially with the deadline approaching.


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Reader's comments(3)
1: You have listed the following five items as problems for testers:
- Lack of documentation
- Find the hidden bugs
- Broken code
- Performance problems
- Last minute changes

To be blunt, if these are the problems in a group, that group are for surely not understanding what agile development is about.

Secondly, the post seems to some extent, to blame developers. This is classic dysfunctionality in a non-agile team. The old divide still exists and if not addressed you are very little hope of being effective.

Firstly bring your developers and testers together. One approach is to pair a developer and a tester to deliver a feature. Address your lack of documentation by having them work together to specify requirements and testing requirements up front, before the development actually begins. This will allow developers to write better unit tests + integration tests etc.. It will prevent the classic knowledge decay and long feedback loops that happens between with old-hat hand over of dev to test.

Ensure you have continuous integration in place. Ensure that the CI system also auto-installs (minimalist continuous deployment). This will take care of your broken code. If the build breaks, have a culture of immediately fixing it. You can take care of performance testing as part of CI as well. Testers should be helping with writing of automated tests that run in your CI environment.

If you have the above in place, last minute changes become less of an issue, but whatever you do, don't deliver substandard quality. In many cases it is better to delay delivery, than to delivery bad code which will just introduce waste. Or you can decide to deliver less functionality at a time, but ensure a high quality deliverable which will provide value.

From Schalk Cronjé on Linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=69301&type=member&item=203168781&qid=5b05622b-25b8-4506-b4b4-d58f4ccb384d&trk=group_items_see_more-0-b-cmr
Posted by:Murray - 19 Feb, 2013
2: Oh dear. So many misconceptions. Your team is unfortunately not doing agile at all. Please have a look at the linkedin discussion where this is discussed further http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=69301&type=member&item=203168781&qid=d596c26a-35de-43e3-8de9-640ed2f37c8b&trk=group_items_see_more-0-b-cmr
Posted by:Murray - 19 Feb, 2013
3: 1. Lack of documentation
The lack of appropriate documentation is one of the biggest challenges faced by testers. Without proper documentation, testers cannot validate the results with the developers or whether the application is functioning as expected.

Without documentation, any behavior is acceptable. Kick the stuff back over the wall and insist on
specification and design docs

2. Find the hidden bugs
Before sending the application or the product to the testing teams, developers are expected to unit test the application. However, when developers perform inadequate unit testing on the application, it is left to the testers to find the bugs that went unnoticed. Considering the testing deadline, finding the bugs is indeed a challenging task for most of the testers.

Faults are put in code by people. The more complex the code the greater likelihood of faults.
Measurement allows testers to focus their energy on where the faults are most likely to occur.

3. Broken Code
Another major challenge faced by testers are the codes accidentally broken due to frequent builds. Codes are changed and compiled on a daily basis and there are high chances for the codes to break.

Measuring the code deltas will, again, draw attention to where problems are most likely to be.

4. Performance Problems
As the complexity of the software increases, the more problems it will have with regards to its performance. As its complexity increases, a developer would need to add more lines of code. While adding the extra codes, if the developer doesn’t focus on the impact of the changes on the en-user, it can introduce some performance issues which can ruin the end- user experience.

A little dynamic measurement would go a long way here. Many times, the performance problems are
induced by the layers of abstraction used by developers (e.g. the O-O machine)

5. Last minute changes
Although agile testing welcomes last minute changes to the application, however, at times it becomes difficult for the testers to accommodate the changes, especially with the deadline approaching.

Again, measurement will show you how to get the biggest bang for the testing buck.
Posted by:RickK - 03 Feb, 2013
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