4 Tips to Create a Simplified Test Plan for Your Agile Project

Planning is an integral part of initiating any project or activity, including software testing. Although formal test plans may seem outdated and unnecessary to most fast-paced agile teams that prioritize cutting down on documentation, it’s still a good idea to keep a pared-down test plan that can guide the testing effort throughout the project.

In my article published on TestRail blog, I talk about four useful tips to create a simplified test plan for your agile project.

1. Include the basics

A test plan can be as detailed as the team requires, but at the minimum, it must contain the context, timelines, and a brief overview of the testing activities expected to be performed in the project, release, or sprint.

Based on what level of test plan you are creating, begin with a basic heading, like schedule and timelines, testing activities and types of testing expected to be performed, people involved in testing, or any new hires or training required for the project or release.

2. Build off the project plan

Most of the test plan can be derived from the context set by the overall project plan, so give that a thorough read and get the details of the project lifecycle, expected delivery schedule, interaction points with other teams, etc.

Note any specifics that emerge, like shared resources with other teams, sync points for integration tests throughout the project’s lifecycle, or special types of testing needed, like performance, load or security testing.

3. Define a clear scope

Let’s say your project is a mobile application that needs to work on both Android and iOS. It would be beneficial to list all the environments and OS versions that need to be supported. Including them in the test plan ensures you set up the test environments early and allocate testing tasks across all of them. It also ensures that you are not bogged down by repeated testing on numerous test environments at the time of release. What is not defined in the initial test plan can automatically be considered out of scope.

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4. Use visual tools like mind maps

A simple Agile Test Plan using a Mind map

Read full article here

Continuous Testing in DevOps

Agile testers need to constantly rethink their processes and tooling in order to move toward faster and more reliable software delivery. The key there is to embrace the continuity. Continuous delivery is necessary for agile development, and that cannot happen without having continuity in testing practices, too.

In my article published on TestRail blog, I discuss the various aspects of Continuous Testing in DevOps-

Continuous testing

Continuous testing can be defined as a methodology focused on continuous quality and improvement. It can use a number of practices and tools to help do that.

Continuous testing encompasses the verification and validation of each piece of the software under development to ensure:

  • Code quality — Are developers creating code of good quality?
  • Application correctness — Are developers creating the correct features?
  • Place in the pipeline — Can the application code flow through the pipeline and across environments and specified tests successfully and easily?
  • A good customer experience — Are users seeing value in the delivered application?

Continuous testing is the way toward continuous delivery. Teams that struggle with continuously delivering on time or with high quality often find the solution to their problems by setting up good continuous testing practices.

Read the full article for some tips to improve your continuous testing framework and help your DevOps succeed, like-
  • Ensure test automation is the best fit
  • Leverage automation benefits in all aspects
  • Select the right tools
  • The Typical Pipeline & what it requires

Continue Reading ->

Agile teams must strive for continuous improvement of their continuous testing strategy. If they’re successful, they can reduce their release times from months or years to weeks or days (or even hours!). By adopting the correct practices and embracing the spirit of continuous learning and improvement, we can help our testers to become champions of agile.

<Image Credits – manufacturingchemist.com>

Is Test Automation Alienating Your Business Testers?

With numerous test automation tools and frameworks available today, many in the software testing industry are focused on learning them all. It is important to stay updated with new technology. But are testers losing something in the race to become more technical and equipped with automation skills?

In my article published at TestRail blog, I examine ways to see if your test automation is becoming so technical and code-intensive that it’s in danger of alienating the subject-matter expert testers who best know the core of your business?

Technology should serve people

It is important to understand and remember that test automation tools have been designed to make testers’ lives easier and better. They are not intended to replace testers or overpower them. They make tests execute faster, with more accuracy and fewer errors, so if they eliminate anything, it is redundancy and repetitive work. This technology is meant to serve testers — to save their time and effort and give them more freedom.

To this end, the first intent behind adopting any technology must be its fitness for use in the project, not its popularity in the market. The skills needed to adopt the tool and begin using it in the project should be easily obtained by hands-on learning or training. Read full article ->

Testing is creative

Testing is a creative job, and it always has been. The advent of new tools and technology has not changed this fact. Tools can do part of a tester’s job, but they still cannot test. Although some people may argue on behalf of artificial intelligence and machine learning that can take over many actively creative aspects, we are not there yet. We still want and need a human to capture the creative tests, discuss the pros and cons of design aspects, peer-review test cases, and report problems.

Everyone can contribute to test automation

When we look at testers’ resumes, the tendency is to look for tools they can work with. But the more important skill we need is their ability to contribute to test automation in one way or another. We cannot judge this fact just by asking if a person is able to write test automation scripts or knows a certain programming language. They may be able to learn the Gherkin format to design and write feature files for Cucumber tests. Or if you decide to adopt a keyword-driven framework, they could pick up the keywords and begin writing tests so that the same test cases can double as test scripts.

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Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-14

“An Agile Test Automation Strategy”

Use the Agile Test Quadrants to help you identify the different types of test automation tools you might need for each project, even each iteration.

Test Automation Pyramid (introduced by Mike Cohn)

Lowest Layer- Bulk of automated unit , technology facing tests. Quickest feedback, code much more quickly using xUnit family of tools

Middle layer – Automated business-facing tests that help the team. “Are we building the right thing” Tests operate at the API, behind the GUI level. Bypass the presentation layer – less expensive to write & maintain these tests. Fit & FitNesse are good examples, written in domain language

Top Tier – Should be the smallest automation effort as they  have the lowest ROI. Done through GUI, operating on the presentation layer. More expensive to write, more brittle and need more maintenance.

The Test Automation Pyramid
  • Any tedious or repetitive task involved in developing software is a candidate for automation.
  • AN automated deployment process is imperative – getting automated build emails listing every change made is a big help to testers. It speeds up testing & reduces errors.
  • A fast running continuous integration and build process gives the greatest ROI of any automation effort.
  • Another useful area for automation is data creation or setup. Cleaning up test data is as important as generating it. You data creation toolkit should include ways to tear down the test data so it doesn’t affect a different test or prevent rerunning the same test.

What we shouldn’t automate

  • Usability testing
  • Exploratory testing
  • Tests that will never fail
  • One-Off tests
  • Plan-in plenty of time for evaluating tools, setting up build processes, and experimenting with different test approaches in the initial iterations.
  • If management is reluctant to give the team time to implement automation, explain the trade-offs clearly. Work towards a compromise.
  • We will always have deadlines, and we always feel pressed for time. There is never enough time to go back and fix things. During your next planning meeting, budget time to make meaningful progress on your automation efforts.
  • Good test management ensures that tests can provide effective documentation of the system and of the development progress

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-13

“Why we Want to Automate Tests and What holds us back”

  • Test automation is a core agile practice. Agile projects depend on automation.
  • Manual tests take too long and are error prone.
  • Automation regression tests provide a safety net. They give feedback early & often.
  • Automated builds, deployment, version control and monitoring also go a long way toward mitigating risk and making your development process more consistent.

“Build Once, Deploy to Many” – is a tester’s dream!

Projects succeed when good people are free to do their best work. Automating tests appropriately makes that happen!

If we become complacent about our testing challenges and depend solely on automated tests to find our issues, and then just fix them enough for the test to pass – we do ourselves a disservice.

However, if we use the tests to identify problem areas and fix them the right way or refactor as needed, then we are using the safety net of automation in the right way.

When tests that illustrate examples of desired behavior are Automated, they become ‘living’ documentation of how the system actually works.

Barriers to Automate –

  • Programmer’s attitude – Why automate at all
  • The Hump of Pain – the initial learning curve
  • Initial Investment
  • Fear – Non-programming testers fear they have nothing to contribute
  • Legacy code
  • Old habits, team culture
  • Without automated regression tests, manual regression testing will continue to grow in scope and eventually may simply be ignored.
  • Teams with automated tests and build processes have a more stable velocity.
  • Good test design practices produce simple, well-designed, continually refactored, maintainable tests.
  • Team culture & history may make it harder for programmers to prioritize automation of business-facing tests than coding new features. Using Agile principles & values helps the whole team overcome barriers to test automation.

4 Exit Criteria your User Stories must have

Planning and developing new features at the fast pace of agile is a hard game. Knowing when you are really done and ready to deliver is even harder.

Having predetermined exit criteria helps you be able to make the decision that a feature is truly ready to ship. In my article published at TestRail Blog, I compiled a list of exit criteria you must add to your user story to make it easy to bring conformity and quality to all your features.

All Tasks Are Completed

This first one sounds obvious, but it may not be. I still see many teams struggling with getting their testing done within the sprint. Developers work on a user story and deem it done, while testers are left to play catch-up in the next sprint.

Put that practice to an end once and for all by making sure that no user story can be proclaimed done without having all tasks under it completed, including development tasks, testing tasks, design and review tasks, and any other tasks that were added to the user story at the beginning.

Ensuring all tasks are completed in a sprint also mandates that you begin thinking in depth about each user story and the tasks necessary for each activity to be completed, so that you do not miss out on anything at the end.

Tests Are Automated Whenever Possible

As our agile teams move toward continuous delivery and adopting DevOps, our testing also needs to be automated and made a part of our pipelines. Ensuring that test automation gets done within the sprint and is always up to pace with new features is essential.

By having test automation tasks be a part of a user story delivery, you can keep an eye out for opportunities to automate tests you are creating, allocate time to do that within the sprint, and have visibility of your automation percentages.

I have used the following exit criteria:

  • At a minimum, regression tests for the user story must be added to the automation suite
  • At least 50% of tests created for the user story must be automated
  • Automated regression must be run at least once within the sprint

Depending on what your automation goals are, decide on a meaningful standard to apply to all your user stories.

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Upcoming Talks and Events 2020

The year 2020 has started on a good note. I am excited to have been invited to speak at amazing events. Here is a list of my upcoming talks and events–

The details of each of these events and my talks can be found at their respective websites at->

Selenium Day : https://seleniumday.com/

DevopsCon Singapore: https://devopscon.io/singapore/program-singapore/

TestBash Detroit: https://www.ministryoftesting.com/events/testbash-detroit-2020

Looking forward to each of these!

*********UPDATE********

Things changes drastically as 2020 progressed.

Events have been postponsed / cancelled / moved online due to lockdowns due to COVID-19 Pandemic

You will find new details of the events , schedule and my talks in later posts.

**************************

The Partnership of Testing and Checking

Human Testing is a craft that is more than executing a bunch of tests, performing clicks and actions. A tester has a unique understanding of the system and ways to critique it. Over time, the tester develops a deeper comprehension of the application and its intricacies, integrations, weak points, and history. This makes them the best judge to find out the failure points of the system and comment on its health.

The Product Risk Knowledge Gap is the difference between what we know about the product and what we need to know. The purpose of testing is to close or at least reduce this gap.

While automated checks can help in determining problems in what we know (and have scripted as checks), it may not help as much in the risk areas of what we do not know about the product. That requires exploration, creativity, intuition and domain knowledge. This is the human aspect of testing.

The creative and human aspects of testing lie with the tester, which I have experienced as well as written about a few years back as a hands-on tester myself here – https://testwithnishi.com/2014/12/31/automation-test-suites-are-not-god/

Your Name: Review:

Automated Checks-

Automated scripts have some built-in steps in the form of test data that we pre-define and verifications that we add. These steps are helpful for areas of the application that we need to check, double-check or re-check a number of times, and because these types of checks can be made explicit, they can be automated. Since the same steps will be performed the same way over and over again, it is better called “checking” rather than “testing.”

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Guest Talk at Qapitol QA

I was invited by Ajay Balamurugadas to present a guest talk at his organisation Qapitol QA for their enthusiastic test team. I spoke about Layers of Test Automation to design a robust test automation framework. The topic was well received and the testers in audience showed keen interest and had some good questions! It was a good experience visiting and meeting the team and presenting a short demo of Sahi Pro too!

The testers at Qapitol QA are surely an inquisitive lot with a dynamic attitude and quest for learning. They showed a lot of interest in Sahi Pro as a tool, and also about test automation in general. I like to encourage such talent and help them in any possible way. I wish to continue the relationship and see them again in future events.

Speaking at the DevOps & Agile Testing Summit – 8Nov’19, Bangalore

I was invited to speak at the DevOps and Agile testing Summit organised and conducted by 1.21GWs on 8th Nov 2019 at Bangalore. It was a great event which brought together many keen minds as delegates and many inspiring speakers. https://1point21gws.com/devops/bangalore/

My talk was on “The Building Blocks of a Robust Test Automation Strategy”. As we know testing teams are faced with a number of questions, decisions and challenges throughout their test automation journey. But there is no single solution for their varied problems! In this talk I outlined a number of strategies that agile teams can follow– be it their selection of what to automate and how much, what approaches to follow, whom to involve, and when to schedule these tasks so that the releases are of best quality.

I am grateful that my talk was so well received and led to great discussions later with many participants. I enjoyed the day and am always glad to be invited by the 1.21GWs team.

A peek into the event – pictures from my session

@Sahi Pro was also a knowledge partner at the event and delegates also got a peek into Sahi Pro via video and brochure handouts.

Looking forward to many more successful events! 🙂