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Volodymyr Klymenko, CEO, Senior Automation Quality Assurance Engineer

Jan 05, 2024 17 min read

Regression Testing in Agile [A FULL GUIDE]

The article details the vital role of regression testing in ensuring software quality during rapid and incremental Agile development cycles. It covers the importance of a robust testing strategy, including identifying code changes, selecting critical tests, balancing automated with manual testing, and maintaining thorough documentation. Practical insights are offered on when to perform regression testing effectively, and the challenges and best practices to optimize this essential process are discussed.

Regression Testing in Agile
How to ensure that code updates do not "break" already implemented product features? Learn why regression testing is vital in Agile projects and what strategies will help you implement it effectively in your workflow. Dive into the world of reliability, compliance, and speed with the mastery of regression testing in Agile. 

What is regression testing?

Regression testing is a strategy in software quality control that focuses on verifying whether changes to the code (such as bug fixes, optimizations, or adding new features) have affected the already existing functionality of the application. 

Basic aspects of regression testing 

  • Identification of changes: Before beginning regression testing, it is necessary to understand what changes have been made to the code to identify potential risk areas. 
  • Selecting the appropriate tests: Often, there is no need to run all existing test cases. Techniques such as test prioritization help to use resources efficiently. 
  • Frequent execution: Regression testing becomes necessary regularly due to constant application changes. 
  • Automation: Frequent execution of regression testing encourages its automation. Automated testing software offers speed and efficiency and reduces the impact of human factors on testing results. 
  • Manual testing: There are cases when the personal approach of the tester is indispensable. Manual regression testing can reveal aspects that automated systems might miss.  
  • Documentation: The importance of keeping detailed documentation of the testing performed cannot be underestimated. It serves as a source of information for future development and testing iterations. 

Advantages of regression testing  

  • Stable product quality: With regression testing, teams can be sure that changes made haven't broken existing functionality. 
  • Early bug detection: Quickly identifying and fixing problems reduces overall development costs. 
  • Improve development productivity: Automated regression testing in an Agile environment can be easily integrated into continuous integration, facilitating fast and efficient development. 

What is regression testing in Agile? 

In an Agile environment, speed and adaptability are critical success factors. However, despite this flexibility, the quality of the product should not be compromised. Regression testing in Agile development ensures this quality by helping teams identify and fix unexpected problems that may arise after code changes. But when exactly should this testing be done in Agile? This point in the article provides practical guidance on the optimal timing for regression testing.  

Regression testing when merging branches 

Branch merging is a crucial operation in modern development methodologies, with properly executed regression testing playing a key role in preventing potential issues. This is particularly important when integrating working branches back into the main branch. Inadequate merging processes can lead to conflicts, either the loss of existing functionality or the introduction of new bugs. Although continuous testing with every merge might be impractical, developers should at least conduct partial testing. Key scenarios for partial testing include significant code changes, functionality additions, or major bug fixes. Moreover, the integration of regression auto-tests into Continuous Integration (CI) systems proves highly efficient. By doing so, each code commit triggers an automatic regression test, ensuring code quality and stability with every change. 

Regression testing Agile when implementing new functions 

Every time a new feature is added to a product, there is a risk of unexpected interactions or conflicts with existing code. Therefore, testing the new feature and its interaction with existing elements is important. For example, when adding time-tracking functionality to a billing application, there may be a need to test integration with a database or other modules. 

Regression testing after bug fixes 

Fixing bugs, especially in large systems, can have unintended consequences. Therefore, after each patch, it is necessary to retest to ensure that it has not led to new problems in other parts of the system. 

Regression testing after major updates 

Any major software update can lead to many problems, especially if it affects core system components. For example, upgrading to the latest version of a framework such as Ruby on Rails can change the behavior of an application or how it interacts with other systems. 

Regression testing before release 

Before releasing any product, ensuring it meets all quality and stability standards is important. Regression testing in Agile development helps the team to identify and fix all possible problems, ensuring the reliability and high quality of the release. 

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When performing regression testing, it is important not only to determine the optimal time to perform it but also to understand the context of changes in the code. Certain changes may require more in-depth or specific testing, while others require a less thorough approach. It is also recommended to regularly review and update your test scripts, adapting them to the evolution of the product. 

Why Regression Testing Is Needed in Agile  

In today's programming world, where code changes are persistent and product requirements constantly evolve, regression testing is becoming an integral part of the development process, especially in Agile. The following approaches and practices highlight the importance of regression testing in Agile: 

  • Interaction of new code with existing code: When developing new features, predicting how new code will interact with existing code can be difficult. Regression testing allows you to identify and solve appeared problems. 
  • Ability to avoid delays: In a dynamic Agile environment where each sprint has clear deadlines, regression testing helps to catch bugs early, allowing the team to stay on schedule. 
  • Regression testing as a safeguard: Regression testing is essential for safeguarding against potential bugs and conflicts, even in thoroughly tested products. This testing allows developers to confidently focus on introducing new functionality without fearing inadvertently damaging existing components. Despite careful merging to production, the possibility of glitches and conflicts always exists. Therefore, to protect users from the adverse effects of incorrect merging, it is crucial to conduct comprehensive or partial regression testing. This process not only ensures the stability of new updates but also maintains the overall integrity of the product. 

Generally speaking, regression testing in Agile helps to improve code quality and contributes to a smoother and more efficient development process. It allows teams to confidently move forward, knowing their product will meet high standards. 

A step-by-step guide to Agile regression testing  

Step 1: Understanding the basics of Agile regression testing 

In Agile, code changes happen quickly. Regression testing helps ensure that new changes do not break existing functionality. This is especially important when the team is working on multiple fixes simultaneously. 

Step 2: Planning regression testing in Agile 

Planning is one of the key phases of regression testing in Agile scenario. A correctly planned process allows the team to use resources efficiently and guarantee high product quality. Let's consider in more detail the main aspects of planning: 

  • Defining the purpose of testing: Before starting testing, clearly define what you want to test. This can be a check of specific functions after making changes or a general system check after larger updates. 
  • Selection and prioritization of test cases: Testing everything is not always possible or appropriate. So, you need to choose the most important test cases. At the same time, it is crucial to consider various factors: the frequency of use of the function by users, the criticality of the functionality for business, the area where changes were made, etc. 
  • Resources and tools: Determine what tools and resources you need for testing. This can include test environments, automation tools, specifications, and other materials. 
  • Teamwork: Effective planning requires close collaboration with developers, project managers, and other stakeholders. This will help ensure that all requirements and expectations are met. 
  • Defining deadlines: Agile works in sprints, so it's critical to set clear deadlines for regression testing not to disrupt the overall work schedule. 

 

  • Risk analysis: Identify potential risks associated with code changes and develop strategies to avoid or minimize them. 

After planning, you will clearly understand what, how, and when to test. It will also ensure the coordinated work of the entire team and increase the chances of successful completion of testing within the given time frame.  

Step 3: Use automation 

Automating regression testing can significantly improve team productivity and ensure fast defect detection. Here are some key points: 

  • Choice of tools: Frameworks such as WebdriverIO for web testing or JUnit for unit testing can be used to write and execute automated test scripts. The choice of a specific tool depends on the project's needs and the testing requirements. 
  • Constant update of tests: With the appearance of new functionality and changes in the code, automated test scripts may require updating. This is important to keep the tests up-to-date and ensure their reliability. 
  • Test coverage: It is important to understand that not all test cases are suitable for automation. However, a strategically selected subset of tests can significantly reduce test time and improve release quality. Understanding how to do regression testing in Agile environments is crucial for maintaining the integrity and performance of software throughout iterative development cycles. 

Step 4: Manual testing 

Some aspects of regression testing Agile are better done manually. Here's why: 

  • Intuitiveness and user interaction: Automated tests may not detect user interface design or interaction problems. Manual testers can run test scripts aimed at detecting such problems. 

 

  • Exploratory testing: This approach allows testers to freely explore the application and discover issues that may be missed in automated scenarios. It's a basic process of creating regression testing documentation. 

 

  • Flexibility to change: In cases where the product changes rapidly, updating automated test scripts can be expensive and resource-intensive. Manual regression testing in Agile may be a more efficient option in such circumstances. 

 

  • Focus on specific cases: Besides general test cases, manual testers can focus on specific, often overlooked cases that can reveal potential defects. 

Step 5: Close cooperation with developers 

Collaboration between developers and testers is key to successfully executing the regression testing strategy in Agile frameworks. Developers and testers should maintain regular communication to discuss any issues uncovered during testing and to devise solutions. Upon identifying an issue, a tester should report it with detailed explanations and, if possible, include screenshots or videos for clarity. However, it is crucial for testers always to be ready for direct communication with developers when needed. This approach ensures a swift comprehension of the issue's root cause and facilitates the formulation of an effective solution. 

Step 6: Continuous integration 

Continuous integration allows you to run tests automatically every time a change is committed. This ensures constant code quality control and allows problems to be detected and fixed early in development. 

Step 7: Continuous analysis and evaluation 

Test results should be carefully analyzed to identify potential problem areas and improve the testing process. Pay attention to test failures and patterns: if a certain part of the code breaks often, it may need rework or additional attention. 

Step 8: Adaptation of the test set 

Changes in the product may require changes in the test suite. Continually review and adjust test scripts to reflect the current state of the product. New functionality may require new tests, while legacy tests may become redundant. 

Step 9: Ensuring the quality of documentation 

All test scripts, results, bug reports, and other materials should be well documented. Good documentation simplifies the knowledge transfer process between team members and provides transparency to other stakeholders. 

Step 10: Evaluation and continuous improvement 

Regularly review and evaluate your regression testing techniques. Collect feedback from the team and use metrics to keep them relevant and effective. 

Regression testing in Agile emphasizes close collaboration, adaptation to changing requirements, and continuous integration. Effective documentation, active participation of all team members, and continuous analysis of results are key to guarantee product quality. Evaluation and improvement of methodologies ensure their relevance in a dynamic Agile environment. 

Challenges of Regression Testing in Agile 

Regression testing in Agile process is complex, where interaction, speed, and efficiency require a unique approach. In today's IT world, where change is the only constant, the need for effective testing is key to the success of any product. However, what are the challenges testers face on the way to perfect regression testing in Agile? Let's consider this question in more detail. 

01

Too much change: A deep understanding of the product is necessary to adapt to constant changes in requirements. This may require additional time to analyze changes and rethink test approaches. 

02

Expanding test suites: As the product grows, the complexity and scope of the tests increase. Testers need deep knowledge of test designs to optimize and prioritize tests.  

03

Ongoing test case maintenance: Testers must be proficient in version control to manage test case updates effectively. 

04

Communication requirements: Communication requires a deep understanding of business needs and technical requirements. It is also necessary to have soft skills to resolve conflict situations.   

05

Technical skills and automation: In addition to automation tools, testers need to know continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) to integrate automated tests into development processes.  

06

Budget and resources: An understanding of the cost of work and the associated risks is required to justify the budget investment in automation. 

07

Adaptability of the test environment: Knowledge of infrastructure, virtualization, and containerization may be necessary to create flexible test environments.  

08

Synchronization with other teams: Understanding DevOps culture and practices is key to ensuring smooth team interaction. 

09

Monitoring and reporting: Proficiency in monitoring tools such as Grafana, Kibana, or Splunk can help generate test status reports. 

10

Education and training: Continuous professional development is crucial in adapting to rapidly changing technologies and methodologies. 

Given these challenges, regression testing in the Agile process requires a high level of professionalism and adaptability from the team. We dissect the challenges and provide practical solutions on how to do regression testing in Agile, ensuring that software enhancements don't compromise existing functionalities. 

Regression Testing Best Practices in Agile 

Regression testing Agile is crucial in software development. The right approach to this type of testing cannot be underestimated, as it affects product stability and customer satisfaction. In this chapter, we'll look at regression testing best practices in Agile that will help teams optimize their workflows and improve the quality of their final product. 

01

Integrate testers from the start: Include testers in the development process as early as possible. This will allow them to structure and update their tests as the code changes.  

02

Automation priority: In an Agile environment where changes happen quickly, automation of regression tests is necessary. Create automated regression testing scenarios and update them regularly with each new sprint. 

03

Manual testing in the early stages: While automation is critical, manual testing is also essential, especially in the early stages or when new features are implemented. Testers can study product flow, application logic, and user interface changes. 

04

Update test suites: The regression test suite must be reviewed and updated with each code change. Remove outdated or irrelevant test cases and add new ones to match the current state of the product. Our team regularly updates the regression testing strategy in Agile to adapt to the evolving features and codebase. 

05

Controlling false results: Regardless of automation, always allow manual verification. This will help detect false positives or negatives that automated tests may miss.  

06

Continuous learning and adaptation: Technologies and methods change rapidly. Teams should regularly evaluate their regression testing approaches and adapt them to industry innovations. 

07

Communication and collaboration: The team must communicate regularly for regression testing to be effective. Developers and testers must work together to ensure product quality. 

Applying these best practices will ensure that your Agile team can perform efficient and effective regression testing, maximize product quality, and ensure customer satisfaction. 

Conclusions 

In this article, we've looked at the key role of regression testing in project work, figured out when to use it within Agile, and why this method is indispensable in Agile methodologies. Additionally, you have learned the step-by-step regression testing methodology and the main challenges in Agile and received practical recommendations for effective testing. We hope that this knowledge will be useful in your professional activities! 

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FAQ

Why is regression testing crucial in Agile?

Regression testing plays a crucial role in Agile methodologies, where incremental changes are frequent. It ensures that these updates do not introduce new defects or reintroduce previous ones. This practice is vital because, without thorough regression testing, there's an elevated risk of bugs slipping into the production environment, potentially compromising the quality and reliability of the software. 

Why should you choose Luxe Quality for your regression testing needs?

Our team is equipped with a wealth of experienced professionals who are adept at providing top-notch regression testing services and excel in tailoring and streamlining the QA process to fit your specific needs. Among our experts, we have QA architects and analysts capable of developing a comprehensive QA strategy. This holistic approach ensures that our services are about testing and building a robust quality assurance framework for your projects. 

How often should regression testing be performed in an Agile project?

Regression testing should be done after every product change to ensure quality. However, in practical terms, it often aligns with each code change, especially after merging branches to test environment or production. 

When is the best time to introduce regression testing in the Agile methodology?

Regression testing should be an ongoing activity. Starting early, perhaps right from the first build, ensures that any introduced feature or functionality does not break existing ones. 

How does automation fit into regression testing in Agile?

Automation is a boon for regression testing in Agile. Automated test suites can quickly verify that existing functionalities remain unaffected, making it easier to keep up with frequent changes in Agile cycles. 

When is regression testing done in Agile?

In Agile methodologies, regression testing is conducted regularly throughout the development cycle, particularly after each code commit, at the end of sprints, before major or minor releases, and following bug fixes. This ensures that new changes integrate seamlessly without disrupting existing functionalities. Additionally, in CI environments, regression tests are often automated and executed frequently, allowing for constant validation of the software's integrity and rapid feedback, which is essential for maintaining high software quality in Agile fast-paced development environment. 

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