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Test Automation in Scrum: How to do it Effectively?

Imagine you’re a software development team building a recipe website. Traditionally, the entire project might be planned out in detail upfront, like a giant recipe itself! This can be cumbersome and inflexible.

Agile methodologies like Scrum help break down this big project into manageable portions. This is useful in today’s fast-paced world, where there isn’t much time to develop and test the product, yet the product is expected to be top-notch.

Scrum is an iterative and adaptable approach that allows the team to respond to changes in requirements or user feedback more effectively, ultimately leading to a higher-quality software product. Thus, scrums make software development easier by:

  • Breaking down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks.
  • Keeping the team focused on delivering the most valuable features first.
  • Providing opportunities for course correction and improvement throughout the development process.

Also, read more about Agile Software Testing.

Why do we need test automation in Scrums?

The essence of adopting Agile methodologies like Scrum is to have flexibility in the development process and constantly ship out portions of the product. When it comes to automated testing, you might know that it is an excellent way to take care of repetitive tasks, especially in such time crunches. It becomes a no-brainer then that with automated testing, you can fast-track a lot of your testing, thus fulfilling the Scrum principle of quick development.

Here are more reasons why test automation is a great idea in Scrums:

  • Faster feedback: Scrum relies on quick feedback loops to ensure the product is on the right track. Automated tests can be run frequently, providing rapid feedback on whether new features or changes have introduced bugs. This allows developers to catch and fix issues early within a sprint before they snowball into bigger problems.
  • Regression testing efficiency: With each sprint in Scrum, new features are added on top of the existing functionality. Manually retesting everything after each change can be time-consuming. Automated regression tests, designed to verify core functionalities remain intact, can be executed quickly and repeatedly throughout the sprint to ensure stability.
  • Improved test coverage: Scrum teams often have tight deadlines. Automation frees up testers’ time from repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on more exploratory testing, usability testing, and edge-case scenarios that are not easily automated. This improves overall test coverage and identifies potential issues that might be missed by just manual testing.
  • Efficiency for repetitive tasks: Many tests involve repetitive tasks like checking form validations or data entries. Automation eliminates the need for manual repetition, freeing up testers’ time for more exploratory and creative testing efforts. Test automation also avoids human errors in repetitive tasks, allowing testers to focus on other priority items.
  • Reduced manual effort: Automating repetitive tests frees up testers’ time to focus on more exploratory and creative testing efforts. They can delve into usability testing, edge-case scenarios, and areas that are difficult to automate, ensuring a well-rounded quality perspective. Read How to Automate Exploratory Testing with AI in testRigor.
  • CI/CD integration: Scrum often benefits from continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) practices. Automated tests can be integrated into the CI/CD pipeline, automatically running whenever new code is committed. This enables automatic detection of regressions and helps ensure a smooth release process.
  • Consistency: Automated tests are designed to follow specific steps exactly each time they run. This removes human error from the testing process and ensures consistent results across different testing environments.

What should be automated in Scrum?

Though test automation is great for Scrums, not everything will take you forward. In fact, automating certain scenarios can increase your test maintenance. In Scrum, you should prioritize automating tests that provide the most value and efficiency within the fast-paced development cycles.

  • Regression testing: These are tests designed to ensure core functionalities don’t break with new code introductions. Automating regression tests saves time and resources in subsequent sprints, as you don’t need to manually retest these areas repeatedly.
  • Repetitive and stable tests: Focus on automating well-defined, stable functionalities with clearly defined expected behaviors. This reduces the maintenance burden of the automated tests, as they’re less likely to break with minor UI changes.
  • Smoke tests: These are basic tests that ensure the core functionalities of the application are working at a high level. Automating smoke tests provides a quick sanity check after code changes or deployments, catching major issues early on. Know about Smoke Testing vs. Sanity Testing.
  • API tests: If your application relies on APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for data exchange, automating API tests can ensure seamless integration and data flow between different systems.
  • Data-driven tests: These tests involve running the same test case with different sets of data. Automating data-driven tests allows for broader test coverage and reduces the need to write individual tests for each data variation.
  • Usability tests (partially): While the subjective nature of usability testing makes it difficult to fully automate, some aspects can be automated. For example, you could automate tests to ensure buttons are always visible on the screen or follow accessibility guidelines.
  • Tests integrated with CI/CD: If your Scrum process utilizes CI/CD, aim to automate tests that can be seamlessly integrated into the pipeline. This allows for automatic test execution whenever code is committed, catching regressions early and preventing deployment issues.

Factors to consider what to automate

Here are some more considerations that you can use to see if what you wish to automate should be automated:

  • Test stability: The functionality being tested should be relatively stable and unlikely to change frequently. Automating tests for constantly evolving features can become a maintenance burden.
  • Test value: Focus on automating tests that provide high value and catch critical bugs. Low-impact tests might not be worth the automation effort.
  • Test maintainability: The automated tests should be easy to understand, modify, and debug. This ensures they remain valuable as the codebase evolves.
  • Cost vs. benefit: Evaluate the time and effort required to automate a test compared to the value it provides. Simple tests might not be worth the automation overhead. Read How to Save Budget on QA.
  • Complexity of tests: While automation is beneficial, avoid automating overly complex tests that are difficult to maintain or become brittle with code changes.

How to start test automation in Scrum?

Here are the steps to start test automation in Scrum:

  1. Build team awareness
  2. Identify automation candidates
  3. Select tools and technologies
  4. Integrate with CI/CD (if applicable)
  5. Write maintainable tests
  6. Start small and scale gradually
  7. Collaborate
  8. Track progress and adapt

Best practices to make test automation efficient in Scrum

While on your journey to automate testing in Scrum, you can refer to these practices to make your efforts fruitful.

  • Prioritize what to automate: Not all tests are created equal. Focus on automating high-value functionalities, critical regression tests, and well-defined features with stable requirements. Read Transitioning from Manual to Automated Testing using testRigor.
  • Start small and scale strategically: Don’t overwhelm your team. Begin with a small set of impactful tests and gradually expand your automation efforts as your team gains experience. Know more about Test Scalability.
  • Write clean and maintainable tests: Use clear code, comments, and meaningful variable names. This makes tests easier to understand, modify, and debug in the long run.
  • Keep it simple: While automation is powerful, avoid overly complex tests that become brittle with code changes. Evaluate the maintenance effort compared to the value provided by the automation.
  • Collaboration is key: Foster close communication between testers and developers. Testers should involve developers to ensure tests accurately reflect functionalities.
  • Integrate with CI/CD (if applicable): Leverage CI/CD pipelines to run automated tests with every code commit. This enables early detection of regressions and smoother deployments. Read about Continuous Integration and Testing: Best Practices.
  • Measure and adapt: Track metrics like test coverage and identify areas for improvement. Use your Scrum retrospectives to discuss challenges and make adjustments to your automation strategy as needed. Here are the QA Metrics to Improve Your Software Testing.
  • Collective ownership: Encourage collective ownership of test automation within the Scrum team. This ensures everyone is invested in maintaining and improving the test suite.
  • Select the right tools: Choose automation tools that align with your project’s needs and technical expertise. Consider factors like ease of use, language support, and integration with your existing development stack.
  • Use data-driven testing: Leverage data-driven frameworks to streamline test execution with different sets of data. This improves test case reusability and reduces maintenance effort.
  • Focus on early and frequent testing: Integrate automation early in the sprint cycle to identify bugs as soon as possible. Run automated tests frequently throughout the sprint to maintain a high level of quality. Use Shift Left Testing to catch the bugs early.

testRigor as a better solution to automate in Scrum

The right test automation tool will reduce your manual work and not require constant human intervention. Luckily, this is possible these days due to tools utilizing AI and ML. One such tool that is probably the best out there is testRigor.

With testRigor, you can easily automate various test scenarios involving table data, 2-factor authentication, QR codes, emails, audio testing, file downloads, and more across various platforms and browsers. The best part is that you can create your tests using plain English language as testRigor uses generative AI to comprehend the test scripts and convert them into executable test cases. They make test creation even easier through their generative AI feature that allows test creation with the help of just a description.

You can bid test maintenance woes farewell if you are using testRigor. This tool makes sure to reduce this known burden to a bare minimum so that you can focus on writing better test cases and achieving good test coverage.

testRigor has a clean and easy-to-use interface that makes it easy to collaborate and keep up with test execution and reports. This tool also integrates with other platforms that might be used in your Scrums. You can also import or copy-paste your manual test cases from the test management tools, such as Zephyr, TestRail, PractiTest, etc., and convert them to automated tests immediately in no time.

This was just the tip of the iceberg. You can do a lot more with testRigor. Check out the tool’s top features and benefits.

Conclusion

Scrum’s fast-paced, iterative nature with frequent deliveries makes test automation valuable. While automation can’t replace manual testing entirely, it acts as a powerful tool for Scrum teams to deliver high-quality software faster. To achieve the best results, choose competent tools to deliver faster, more efficiently, and with top-notch quality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When should a Scrum team implement test automation?

A Scrum team should look to implement test automation from the beginning of the project. Early implementation allows the team to catch defects sooner, reduce manual testing efforts, and streamline the integration and delivery processes.

What challenges might a team face with test automation in Scrum?

Common challenges that a team might face include:

  • High initial setup costs and learning curves.
  • Difficulty in maintaining test cases due to frequent changes in requirements.
  • Selection of inappropriate tools or frameworks.
  • Integration of automated testing into the CI/CD pipeline.
  • Ensuring adequate test coverage and dealing with flaky tests.
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