Context-driven testing has been around for over a decade, but its adoption in quality assurance (QA) practices is still low. This is due to a lack of understanding of what is context-driven testing and its relevance in an agile development setting.
Context-driven testing counters the usual belief that there is a fixed set of scripts, methodologies, and sequences that must be followed – regardless of the context – to get the product to market. Breaking this myth has several benefits, particularly in an agile world.
Understanding Context-driven Testing in an Agile World
On the surface, it may seem like context-driven testing does not play well with agile development models, where fixed deadlines are set aside for discrete sprints and testing sessions, with pre-determined slots for review and debugging.
In reality, the benefits of context-driven testing are very suitable for agile teams and may even work to reduce the tester’s workload and speed up development. It is only a matter of knowing where to apply it!
Importance of Context-driven Testing: 4 Key Benefits
By adopting context-driven testing in an agile environment, you can:
1. Fine-tune software requirements
Typically, context-driven testing is conducted before product development even begins to make sure that it is aligned with the project’s final expectations and the user’s requirements. By this time, you will have a minimum viable product (MVP) at hand, and are ready to start production and plan for the final release.
At this stage, context-driven testing will help you identify flaws in areas like compliance, security, and user experience so that you can fine-tune software requirements.
This is a vital benefit for agile software development, where the appearance of new requirements later on in the lifecycle can significantly derail production. Instead, if you adopt context-driven testing early on, you are better positioned to meet sprint timelines and develop a high-quality product.
2. Find (and remove) your frustration points
Agile development will inevitably involve highly collaborative processes. Multiple sprints will work parallelly, and product, development, and testing will work together to meet release goals. It can be difficult to ensure that all of these processes move smoothly – especially when you are in the thick of things! That is why context-driven testing is so important in an agile world.
In addition to unit, functional, performance, and exploratory tests, this approach includes an assessment phase where you validate your product and process levels. As one of the outcomes of context-driven testing, you will be able to capture workflow frustration points and the pains in your processes.
As a result, context-driven testing allows agile teams to work better together and also make life easier for the end-user.
3. Clarify your documentation woes
Testing documentation (especially if you are a startup) can be difficult to wrap your head around. Where do you begin, how much do you document, and what do you leave out, particularly given that testing can never be 100% comprehensive or bug-free?
Context-driven testing is beneficial for agile teams because it prepares the bedrock for future documentation.
It posits the context as a clear starting line, and requires a clear understanding of the context behind the user story. Interestingly, since agile software development is entirely driven by user stories, the two approaches are well aligned. As you move forward with operating within the context, it becomes clearer what documentation you need, the specifications required, what notes could be helpful, and so on.
4. Maintain absolute user-centricity
One of the key challenges of standard testing is that it follows a one-size-fits-all model. But every company, including startups, is now addressing a variety of personas with different needs.
Standard testing means that you miss out on testing against the nuances of each user’s expectations, their differentiated stories, and, therefore, the features you need to deliver. Context-driven testing, in contrast, considers every story and test case in the context it will appear in the real world.
As you can see, context-driven testing can not only be accommodated into agile software development, but they are a good fit. It ensures a user-centric testing practice and a preference for the shift left model, so that fewer issues are found in production, and there is a minimal gap between reality and perception. Through context-driven testing, we can actually shorten development lifecycles and keep sprints on track.0